Remember the infamous Bob Ward interview, from a year ago?

Minor EDIT 15/Oct,  (corrected two hyperlinks) 11/Oct/11   Guest post by Bob Fernley-Jones (AKA Bob_FJ)

With the help of Mr Ward, Australia’s national broadcaster attacked the work of several sceptics of CAGW, (catastrophic AGW), including against a 2008 paper by Prof Bob Carter; one of his hundred, which Ward described as the worst paper ever.   The major issue seems that it did contain a misquote of source, of what was basically published elsewhere.  However, the professor previously apologised for it in the same journal, and it was hardly a big deal.  Despite this, the unchanged attack was delivered by ABC radio’s “The Science Show”, without reference to the published correction.  One can only speculate that perhaps it was to counter the professor’s highly acclaimed book of 2010, which was contrary to their dogma.  The interview went viral around the world, such as here in Oz, in the USA, and in the UK .  The latter link is also valuable in giving a disturbing background on “Bob Who?”, PR man of the LSE, although some of the 800 comments are a bit emotional.  The ABC’s denigration of Bob Carter went to the greatest extreme, conflicting with parts of their own Editorial Policies, and against the wishes of the Chairman in an address to staff in 2010, to which some staff openly declared their opposition and bias.

So, has the ABC attitude towards CAGW scepticism changed over the past year?  Well in general, no; for example, here follows a listing of twenty of the more significant CAGW stories on “The Science Show”, to which there was ZERO balancing material other than on website comments. 

MAIN LIST OF EVENTS, (Short title, story date, and brief comments):

1) BBC Trust; science report; 24/Sep

Amongst other things, presenter Robyn Williams prompted Sir Steve Jones, (The examiner for the BBC Trust science review), that the BBC gives too much support for sceptics, given “the weight of evidence” against them. Apart from this open bias, “The Science Show” also disregards AT LEAST the following clause in the ABC Editorial Policies. (my emphasis):

4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.

Various polls known to The Science Show give that around 50% of the Oz community’s belief on CAGW is knowingly excluded from consideration.   

2) Eureka prizes; 10/Sep

John Cook repeated an unfounded claim of a direct connection between CO2 and CAGW via radiation as recently measured from satellites and planes using EXACTLY the same words as in 5) below.  Williams was aware from the earlier discussion, that this was misleading, particularly in ignoring feedbacks and modelling assumptions etc.  (whilst most sceptics do believe that CO2 is indeed a GHG).  However, he made no attempt to query it in the interview, or to edit the pre-recorded show before it went to air.  But then, Cook must be correct, because he won an Eureka Award from the Australia Museum for his book!  (sarcasm intended) 

3) “Science under attack”; 6/Aug

The BBC “Horizon” movie by geneticist Sir Paul Nurse (President of the Royal Society) showed him evidently to have little expertise in climate change, a fault that he targeted at those he criticised.  For instance, strangely, instead of popping down the road to East Anglia to report on the “great accuracy” of climate modelling, he visited the USA.  However, he and Williams were clearly confused about the difference between weather and climate change, and BTW, they both seemed to evade the well-known UK public disdain on the laughably poor weather forecasting in the UK in recent years. 

The Horizon “doco” had “new-age” jazzy video effects, and it seems to mark a declining trend in the “Horizon” earlier good quality. (possibly intended to grab younger audiences?).  It is a plum favourite reference for Williams including him this time spruiking its future showing on a competitive TV channel. (Uh ! ?)  It included an obvious deception in the minute or so of video clips when James Delingpole was clearly stunned by a couple of Nurse’s entrapments, and which Williams gleefully described several times.  Of course, they were cut from a much longer shoot, which Delingpole reported lasted at least 3 hours, with quite different pre-defined objectives. 

4) Climate change Tasmania; 30/July

This included Robyn Williams being enthusiastic yet again about the Nurse movie; quote; my emphasis:

Robyn Williams: “… and he [Nurse] went to see a modeller, [in the USA, not in East Anglia….!?], and they’ve got two screens, the screen at the top shows the models and what they predict with real weather systems going around, and then underneath you’ve got what was actually shown in real time of the real weather, and both are exactly the same. It’s quite extraordinary…”  

5) John Cook book: Climate change deniers; 14/May

Robyn Williams:   Authors John Cook and Haydn Washington analyse the approaches of those who deny climate science. Despite multiple lines of evidence pointing to the same conclusion, deniers continue to deny. Cherry picking is one tactic. Another is the use of fake experts or scientists who are not climate scientists. The authors explore why, as the science firms, the public view, at least in Australia, is going the other way.”

Amongst a host of head-shaking stuff, Williams again gleefully refers to the Nurse movie, {See 3) & 4)}, but see also e.g. at Jo Nova’s a more detailed critique.  The science show website transcript, (linked in the title above), was closed for comment unprecedentedly after 83 largely critical entries, and at least 3 critical comments that seemingly conformed to blog rules disappeared in moderation without explanation.

6) Email from Prof David Karoly; 21/Mar.

In response to a request from both “The Science Show” and “Media Watch”, sweeping criticisms were made of Prof Bob Carter’s book, that the Science show had earlier declined to review.   However, back-up detail from Karoly does not seem to have eventuated at over 6 months later.  That is hardly surprising though, given the 354 references, the impressive rationale in the book, and its high acclaim.  More information here  and here

7) Naomi Oreskes’ book; 8/Jan

Robyn Williams:   Despite data being collected for over half a century, despite a President being warned about the looming threat of a changing climate in the mid 1960s, and despite plants and animals now changing their behaviour to fast altering conditions, a few scientists continue to raise doubts regarding climate science and its findings.  Naomi Oreskes sees a pattern. The pattern repeats itself in a string of issues including controversy over tobacco smoke, the dangers of acid rain, and DDT…”

8) Tim Flannery’s book; 1/Jan

Robyn Williams:   On the release of his book, Here on Earth an argument for hope, scientist and author Tim Flannery appears in a public forum …   … Tim Flannery attended the Copenhagen climate talks…   …in 2009 which were largely seen as a failure.  Despite this, and most environmental indicators looking bad and getting worse, Flannery outlines the reasons he is hopeful for the future of life on planet Earth.”

Well, as an expert on fossil mammals, Flannery should have a “scientific brain”.  However, he’s been more reserved lately about his earlier failed prophecies.

9) Antarctic penguins threatened; 13/Nov

Many rather speculative and controversial claims over a very wide range of scientific disciplines were made therein and in the referenced paper.  For one thing; Emperor Penguins nest in colonies on sea ice during the winter, and it is hard to imagine their sea ice would significantly diminish anytime soon in winter, everywhere around that vast continent.  It is also unknown if they really must nest on inland sea ice, although it has been hypothesised that this weird behaviour is to deny predator attacks…. and…. 

10) Bob Ward Interview; 2/Oct

See the opening paragraph for links to three major commentaries.  In the week leading up to that show, Bob Carter was invited by “The Science Show” producer to have a telephone interview in response to Ward’s unheard critique.  The professor sensibly declined and Emailed his already published response to Ward’s previously published critique on the same paper.  However, this was all ignored during the broadcast, apart from innuendo of saying that Bob Carter declined to appear on the show, and to advise listeners to go see their website instead.  More information at links in 6)

 And now quickly; some additional links in case you don’t yet get the ABC drift:

11) Designing blimps for geoengineering; 1/Oct

12) Big changes in carbon output being achieved; 1/Oct

13) Plants and CO2; 27/Aug

14)  How insects respond to rising temperatures; 27/Aug

15) The laws of thermodynamics and the fate of humanity; 11/June

16) Southern Ocean Sentinel observes impacts of climate change; 7/May

17) The Great Barrier Reef in the age of rapid climate change; 28/May

18) Climate change and biodiversity; 26/March

19) Cyclone Yasi’s effect on the Great Barrier Reef; 26/Mar

20) David Suzuki’s book; 18/Dec


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).

3 Responses to “Remember the infamous Bob Ward interview, from a year ago?”

  1. I used to listen to the science show most weekends, but I stopped recently as I was sick to death of the very pro-AGW message being repeated over and over.

    It’s a real shame, and some what disgraceful.


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