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« Keep on spinning | Main | Cold weather probe? »

Indy defends itself

The Independent has now issued a defence of its publication of the David Viner `Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past' story. As commenters note it's not a very strong defence, putting the blame on the headline writers.

A more accurate headline would be something like: "Snowfalls are becoming less frequent in our little corner of the world but that doesn't necessarily mean that snow will disappear from our lives completely and forever." Unfortunately, any sub-editor who would suggest such a tediously long headline is unlikely to last very long.

H/T Jiminy Cricket in the comments.

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Reader Comments (30)

The story was about the frequency of snowfalls, and how "snow is starting to disappear from our lives" ...

It was starting to disappear ten years ago ... but we've just seen a great deal more of it, for the last three years in succession.

And they call this a defence?

Jan 10, 2011 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

We wos wrong but we can't admitt it !!!

Jan 10, 2011 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

I'm not sure how they think suggesting that the headline of the article in any way detracts from the actual quote "children just aren't going to know what snow is", as proof that Prof Viner was saying that snow will be a thing of the past!
As this quote is being offered as an example of exageration of CAGW and not thehead line,then I'm at a loss to see what the point of the article is.

Smokescreen anyone?

Jan 10, 2011 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered Commentersunderland steve

I'm not sure I recall the headline, but I do remember David Viner bleating about children not knowing what snow would look like. What are they trying to defend..?

Jan 10, 2011 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Perhaps that article - sorry, story - is a forewarning of how the AGW scene is likely to respond in future when its catastrophist hyperbole goes awry? i.e. mealy mouthed revisionism.

Jan 10, 2011 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterhardened cynic

As pointed out by Dave in the Indy thread, the quotes from the 2000 story were: "According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event."

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

It is the last sentence that is the killer. The sub-editors in 2000 are blameless.

Jan 10, 2011 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

Mike, exactly, making this about sub-editors and headlines is another subtle form of straw man. Most sceptics - at least, respected, verifiable sceptics, such as the man who host this blog - would never merely quote the headline. As far as I can remember I've always seen Viner's words quoted verbatim to make the very fair point that his forecasting abilities were not everything they were being cracked up to be - notably by himself - in 2000.

We all know the game, that the believers will now speak of natural variation, of temperature averages over the whole year, over thirty years, over the whole earth.

But that is now and Viner's words were then. In 2000 the UK had not experienced much snow for quite a while. As ever, the climate experts are brilliant at forecasting, as long it only involves the past.

Another word for this is propaganda and the death of true science. In my view Viner and the Indie deserve everything they get.

Jan 10, 2011 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

The Independent should be issuing a correction and not try to defend the indefendsible.

Jan 10, 2011 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

"in our little corner of the world" ... the implication being that such things are only local events.

Jan 10, 2011 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeal Asher

Funny, isn't it - when al-BBC publishes an article with what Jo Abbess considers a misleading headline she's all over it like a cheap suit and gets the obliging hack Harrabin to change it ( From her finger wagging email to Harrabin, here's why:

"A lot of people will read the first few paragraphs of what you say, and not read the rest, and (a) Dismiss your writing as it seems you have been manipulated by the sceptics or (b) Jump on it with glee and email their mates and say "See! Global Warming has stopped !"

I presume Ms Abbess was nowhere to be seen when the Independent published a grossly misleading article under a headline that supported her religion.

Funny that. If it works for them they support it. If it doesn't they deny they ever agreed with it or that it was important. Same with 10:10, same with Himalayan glaciers, same with the Hockey Stick.

It's all about whether to be honest or effective, I guess.

Jan 10, 2011 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Steve Connor's writings provide more entertainment than science.

Here's another classic headline
"Exclusive: Scientists warn that there may be no ice at North Pole this summer" (27 June 2008)

Now Connor could also blame this on the headline writers...... but HIS first sentence is: "It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year."

His current attempt to explain away his earlier naivite seems pathetic.

I find the Independent's completely 'taken in' approach to AGW quite ironic. In a similar distortion of the concept of 'expert concensus' and 'certainty', The Independent was the sole 'intellectual' media outlet to maintain scepticsm against the case for WMD in Iraq. They did a fantastic job then, and for me one of the best front pages ever was a blank white page apart from the words: 'Hutton Inquiry a whitewash'. I was a proud Independent reader then. Connor has really helped to damage his paper's 'independent' and 'intelligent' repuitation.

Jan 10, 2011 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

"children just aren't going to know what snow is",

Yep, geography and English Language lessons just aren't what they used to be!

Jan 10, 2011 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

It's not just the Independent - even the Express was at it at one point:

WHY WINTER NO LONGER EXISTS "Winter has gone for ever and we should officially bring spring forward instead, one of the country’s most respected gardeners said yesterday."

To their credit, it appears the Met Office rejected Dr Taylor's plans to completely rearrange the seasons...

Jan 10, 2011 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Never mind their obviously false claim that the headline was not supported by the story, what annoys me is the insouciance with which they say, outright, that their sub-editors can just lie for brevity. They think that's less contemptible than running an excitable load of hooey in the first place?

Jan 10, 2011 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

[Off topic]

Tonight's episode off Horizon on BBC2 might be interesting: Ben Miller on temperature measurement.

I wonder if AGW gets mentioned...

[/Off topic]

Jan 10, 2011 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeerke

A year ago I did the tedious work of examining UK snowfall for every year since that Independent piece appeared in 2000.

2002 is the only year that can be described as having experienced relatively little snow. There appears, therefore, to be absolutely no evidence to support Steve Connor’s new claim that “snowfalls are becoming less frequent in Britain.”

Jan 10, 2011 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDonna Laframboise

By resurrecting the Viner story, and then trying to defend the underlying belief, the Indy is very effectively rubbing its own nose in its own copious gullibility.

Jan 10, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

"Ben Miller on temperature measurement"

That should be interesting. I wonder what's been left on the cutting-room floor..?

Jan 10, 2011 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Thanks Peerke, I'll look out for that.

Jan 10, 2011 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered Commentersunderland steve

@ Donna

We had heavy snow in London around this date in 2003. I remember because my daughter was 4 days old and I took her to the window to show it to her. She couldn't see it but I wanted her to be able to say she had, it being a thing of the past and all.

Jan 10, 2011 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Ah, its those pesky sub editors. To them, a good headline would be "Nixon Innocent!", because, after all, something like "Nixon Resigns Over Watergate Just Days Before Congress Planned to Take Up Impeachment Proceeding" would have been too many words.

Jan 10, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

Nixon innocent! Perfect analogy, mpaul. Well done.

Jan 10, 2011 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

The Independent: "Don't believe the hype over climate headlines"

I don't, I really don't but thanks for the tip.

Jan 10, 2011 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

"Heavy snow will return occasionally, says Dr Viner, but when it does we will be unprepared. "We're really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time..."

Sounds remarkably prescient to me.

Jan 10, 2011 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterPedro

"in our little corner of the world"

Warmists still think the MWP was regional.

Jan 11, 2011 at 1:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterel gordo

"Montford - a journalist who fraudulently claimed to be a member of the House of Lords and to be a former scientific advisor to Margret Thatcher."

One of the commenters dismisses a recommendation to read THSI with the above. Montford, Monckton, what's the difference? Hell, if you're not even going to bother getting the right person, who cares if the scurrilous claims are true...

Mike Post>

"As pointed out by Dave in the Indy thread..."

Ta, nice to see that someone actually reads the comments. :)

Jan 11, 2011 at 5:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterdave

"Heavy snow will return occasionally, says Dr Viner, but when it does we will be unprepared. "We're really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time..."

Sounds remarkably prescient to me.

3 years in a row is not occasionally, and it was forecast, just not by the MET.

Jan 11, 2011 at 8:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

Last night the Met Office added another dimension to this story. It seems the PR team are incapable of holding the line and are now contradicting everything in sight, in spite of the evidence.

The subplot to this appears to be the Met Office picking certain journalists to deliver their spin for them at arms length. All very interesting.

Jan 11, 2011 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAutonomous Mind

Paul Hudson takes a scornful swipe at UK Energy planning......

Jan 11, 2011 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

For Peerke and James P, there was an interesting bit on the Horizon programme last night.

A clever scientist explained to Ben Miller (at around 50 minutes) how a one degree average temperature rise would lead to a huge rise in the number of extreme warming events.

This scientist did not also go onto explain the implication of the other end of the graph. That extreme cold events (for the UK sub-zero snow events) would become increasingly rare.

Jan 12, 2011 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicbeancounter

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