Click images for more details



Recent posts
Recent comments
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Steig's method massacred | Main | Intergovernmental Panel on Economics »

Baghdad Fi

Fiona Fox has the most hilarious article up at the BBC College of Journalism blog, in which she defends the BBC as being neutral on global warming.

Shades of Comical Ali.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (95)

Over in Oslo, she's been saying climate science reporting needs to be more open and better communicating the uncertainty monster, so Dr Curry's work is having some effect it seems. Asher Minns from the Tyndall Centre (and apparently the originator of 'this is not a story' when Clmategate broke) called for an end to 'climate porn' and exageration. He was also shocked that trust in climate scientists was very low, and thought they needed to do a lot of work to restore that.

I'm guessing he hasn't seen the Steig story yet.

Feb 8, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

I'm sure the BBC are absolute neutral.
As is Fiona, of course.

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

FF says "Conversely, that similar polls now show most people in the UK accept that climate scientists are agreed on the basics is something that the BBC should be proud of."

Seems to prove Sissons right!

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Tory MP Robert Halfon proposed a ten minute rule bill aiming to give the public a vote on the way the BBC is run.

The Harlow MP says the corporation is "something the UK should be justly proud of" but accuses it of being run as a "feudal monarchy".

The bill would enable licence fee payers to vote on the BBC's strategic direction and aspects of senior salaries and programming.

Licence fee payers would also be given a vote on the election of members of the BBC Trust and BBC Executive Board.

Mr Halfon says the move would "democratise the licence fee" and make the organisation more accountable to the British public.

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

I hate to be the pedant here, boss, but why do you Americanise the name? Next you'll start using "humor".

That gentleman is known as Comical Ali in Trafalgar Square, not Baghdad Bob.

[BH adds: I was racking my brains for what he was called! Changed it now]

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

the uncertainty monster = pig's head on a stick


Feb 8, 2011 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

I suppose we all live to some extent in universes of our own invention, but hers seems particularly fantastical, albeit vital for her own self-respect.

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

The quick sly Fox jumps over the elephant in the room

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Fiona Fox (aka Fiona Foster) will never escape her past.

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac


Ouch. I remember that too. As you say, some things stay with you forever. However often you shift names.

golf charley

Hah! Funny.

Bad Andrew



Interesting nuanced language by FF: a 'plague' of sceptics (she needs to watch those little tells); also since when was Benny Peiser a 'household name'? I mean no disrespect to Dr Peiser, but really... FF is indulging in hyperbole to justify her misrepresentations here.

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


Excellent comment over at the BBC CoJ site. Biff, bosh.

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


"pigs head on a stick" is from Lord of The Flies. It's what Simon defiantly speaks to The Lord of The Flies up on the mountain when it taunts him.


Feb 8, 2011 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Harrabin just gave a very impressive monologue in defence of sceptical opinions at the Norwegian conference. Fox is on the other end of the table - she must be apoplectic :)

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterFergalR

Well, Ive just added my pennies worth...lets see how long it gets to stay there, but just in case it goes down the old bung hole (or what ever its called over at Real Climate:), here is my rant :)

Sorry, but this article is utter tripe.

The simple fact is that the BBC is a Mann Made Global Warming (tm) advocate. It is amazing at how incredibly incurious the BBC is when it comes to its pet religion, not once have I ever seen a real analysis of any of the white washes, real in depth interviews with people like McIntyre, who is at the core of the destruction of the Hockey Stick, or any of the other serious skeptical scientists etc. You claim that Bob Holland has been interviewed, but Id hardly call the seconds he was allowed to speak without being coached in to showing some sympathy for Jones as informative or reflective or even useful.

You can claim you have aired interviews with Monkton until the cows come home, but all someone has to do to see the BBC's true colours and how it views skeptics is to look at the farce conducted by Nurse and then the hit piece on Monkton a week later...which strangely enough all just happen to coincide with the Science and Technology select committees report being released.

Your very own so called climate science reporters also appear to be nothing more than mouth pieces for Mann Made Global Warming (tm) alarmism. And in fact the only time Black has reflected on all the alarmism was when he went off topic and got hammered by alarmists out there for daring to stray from the faith. Even then he still reasoned with it as being nothing more than reflective of the vile and hatred supposedly shown by "deniers" to climate scientists like Jones etc.

And there we have another problem...the only way the BBC can understand something is to project that issue upon skeptics. So in Blacks mind, the vitriol and anger he was exposed to by those who believed in Mann Made Global Warming (tm) was to reason that this was nothing more than a reflection of attitudes shown by "deniers" to climate scientists.

Sadly Fiona, you have only highlighted the problem the BBC has with Mann Made Global Warming (tm). The reason you cant see the very real problems is because you are on the inside looking out, which means that any reform that comes to the BBC will not come from the inside but will have to be imposed upon it from the outside.

Finally, isnt it funny how Fox, Harribin, Black etc can all get themselves to Carbonpolooza and meet with the faithful but yet couldnt find the time to get to Lisbon to cover the conference on how skeptics and alarmists can bridge the gaps between each group.

Perhaps thats indicative enough of where the BBC's allegiances lie.



Feb 8, 2011 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

"Scientists facing Lord Lawson in a BBC studio are unlikely to focus on the gaps in knowledge when he is attacking the whole of climate science." writes Fifi *)

Crikey - who invited Lord Lawson then? Wasn't it the Beeb? And didn't they know him?
Ah - I forgot: the Beeb's young hopefuls are a mirror of their contemporaries, for whom anything that happened before the Age of Twitter is simply non-existent .. So the poor dears probably only knew that Lord Lawson was ... old ... and thus probably incompetent and no challenge for the scientists ....

*) 'Fifi' is a name given preferentially to toy poodles, in France.

Feb 8, 2011 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans


If you haven't read the book, the gist of it is that fear (of things in their own imaginations) contributed to the kids on the island behaving like animals. We have our own imaginary monster to contend with today. Well, some of us do. ;)


Feb 8, 2011 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Not much support for Fiona over there. The propaganda of Fox and Ward is wasted. Fox and Ward. Ward and Fox. Sounds like a dodgy firm of accountants or solicitors or cowboy builders.

Feb 8, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@ Mac, 'Fiona Fox (aka Fiona Foster) will never escape her past.'

The article linked to was written by a Fiona Fox (or Foster) who wasn't afraid to challenge orthodoxies. The only way the article can be seen as embarrassing to her is if it is read deliberately to miss the point she makes. Misreading that article in that way is the sort of thing George Monbiot does.

Feb 8, 2011 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

I wonder if the BBC's neutrality means it will report this?

Feb 8, 2011 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Bad Andrew

I have read LotF, although it was rather a long time ago. Thanks for the explanation, which I was going to request (busy day today).

I agree that the children on the island are prey to their imaginings, but wasn't Golding's position (as a Catholic) that Evil is real? I believe this was much more evident in the original manuscript of LotF, which was heavily edited for publication.

All the rest of Golding's work that I have read is about different readings of the Fall, and always, the way evil manifests in the human mind.

He was a troubled man, I think.

Feb 8, 2011 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Ben Pile


That's me told as well. I will re-read with the brain on as soon as I get a chance. I must admit it was a few years back when I last looked at the FF piece.

Still, thanks for the cautionary note.

Feb 8, 2011 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Andrew: the uncertainty monster = pig's head on a stick

Gottit. Lord of the Flies.

I was nine years old and had read the Radio Times but my parents wouldn't let me stay up to listen to it.

Feb 8, 2011 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A


I don't know much about William Golding or his other writings, but I will do some research. I am Catholic, too, and LOTF, especially Simon's encounter in chapter 8 (I think) has always stuck with me since I read the book in high school. With all the talk of Uncertainty Monsters, and the imaginary crises (AGW-induced) I can't help but see a parallel degeneration in some people due to fear, as pointed out by numerous people in the climate blogosphere.


Feb 8, 2011 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Is this the same Fiona Fox who whilst on BBC's Newswatch, said that Roger Harrabin and Richard Black should be "congratulated" for not giving Skeptics equal time in the Climate Debate?

Feb 8, 2011 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr John

Bad Andrew

Try The Inheritors which was his second published novel. Its like LotF in that he's dealing with the Fall again, but this time the Eden is paleolithic Earth and the meeting with personified evil occurs when Neoliths run into Sapiens. Guess who is the embodiment of evil?

I've always liked The Spire but that's partly because it is notionally about the construction of Salisbury cathedral, which is a favourite of mine and not very far from where I live.

I thought the To the Ends of the Earth trilogy was excellent, but you will need to know your way around C19th naval terminology and slang ;-)

Sadly Golding seems to be a bit out of favour at the moment. Hopefully that will eventually change.

Feb 8, 2011 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Thanks for the info, BBD!


Feb 8, 2011 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

When I read it my only thought was "God? Is this Tom Reid? The parody is sooooo funny!" It was marvelous. Then I realize that she was in fact Bonkers!

As Josh pointed out the other day, Reid did sound like a parody, and so does she, if you don't know here better.

Feb 8, 2011 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

BBD, Bad Andrew

Since The Lord of the Flies is a literal translation of Beelzebub, I think you are right in assuming Golding was writing about evil personified. Beelzebub was the one in Paradise Lost "than whom, Satan except, none higher sat".

(I know this is all OT, but I can barely read the CoJo piece, as it is in white type on a black background.)

Feb 8, 2011 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

I was watching some comedy stand up programmes last friday, and Al Murray did a brief set and he asked the audience, who was worried abour global warming--- there was virtual silence

Feb 8, 2011 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdrianS


Yes, the clue is in the name ;-)

Feb 8, 2011 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Sorry Ben Pile, but Fiona Fox wasn't challenging orthodoxy she was attempting to re-write history.

Feb 8, 2011 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

I watched a fair bit of the webcast from Oslo today. Seemed to be the usual bunch of fellow travellers on a freebie to boost each other's egos though there was much gnashing of teeth about the demise in climate reporting.

The Bob took Deller's comment about there not being enough bullets as a prime example of what climate reporters are up against.

Shortly after there was a discussion about Climategate where Fiona, as chairperson, remarked that it all seemed far too polite and invited questions from the audience to spice things up a bit!

Later came the dreadful Oreskes. I wonder whether the Bob also took offence with her final slide (in line with his Dellers objection) which showed a woman pointing a gun at her husband with the caption "sorry harold but I'm reducing our carbon footprint".

Feb 8, 2011 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterbillyquiz

@Mac 'Sorry Ben Pile, but Fiona Fox wasn't challenging orthodoxy she was attempting to re-write history.'

What 'history' do you think she was re-writing? And why has it upset you so much?

Feb 8, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Ben Pile

Did I really write 'outch'?

Oh God, the shame.

Feb 8, 2011 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

OK, too many Non-conformists and Presbyterians in my background for me to know how properly to address a bishop, but this bishop completely skewered the pretensions of La Fox in that first comment on the BBC blog. Brilliant!

Feb 8, 2011 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

Agree Morgan and he did so throughout the comments.
I suspect that BBC reporters have to raise blog-threads (with comments allowed) to demonstrate how impartial our public service is.
I suspect also that few of them have the cojones to actually revisit those comments.
None so blind as those who will not look!
Dear old Auntie has become an expensive public disservice.

Feb 9, 2011 at 12:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

geek comment: she mis-spelled Lomborg, Peiser, and Lindzen. Having covered climate science for 8 years.

Feb 9, 2011 at 1:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoddy Campbell


As some of the commenters over there pointed out, the best part is she did that right after claiming that the beeb had made "Lomburg" and "Penny Peiser" household names!

Feb 9, 2011 at 2:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

tHANKS bISHOP, your grace etc etc
Thanks ever so much, I temporarily left your blog to read Fiona's wise words for myself.
Very droll.
Which alternative planet does she come from by the way?

The BBC article says that "Fiona Fox is Director of the Science Media Centre - an independent press office working on the front line between the national news media and science on controversial issues".

I misread that the first time and had to go back for a second look, silly me.
I had imagined that she came from the Ethics Centre.
Eithics Centre, Independent Press Office, Commody Central or whatever?
Enough said.

But very, VERY droll.

Feb 9, 2011 at 5:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

Perhaps comedy would be even better?

Feb 9, 2011 at 5:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

Just read FF's piece thrice, in a vain attempt to fathom what she's trying to articulate. She's barking mad. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES BUY THIS WOMAN A DRINK.

Feb 9, 2011 at 8:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterLevelGaze

@Ben Pile
"The only way the article can be seen as embarrassing to her is if it is read deliberately to miss the point she makes."

Possibly the last line on the archived page may help sway readers opinions!

"Reproduced from Living Marxism issue 85, December 1995"

Feb 9, 2011 at 8:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Funny how Fionna is unsupported by readers of her blog.
We have the same in France, any pro-agw blog article with a non filtered comment space is immediately countered by a furry of skeptical replies, what an editor at l'Express (a mainstream daily) once called a "horde of skeptics orchastrated by oil lobbies". I would call it Muphy's Climate Law, or Fionna Law.

Feb 9, 2011 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJean Rochefort

Sorry Ben Pile, but Fiona Fix was arguing from an orthodox position herself and she did attempt to re-write history over the Rwandan massacre.

Feb 9, 2011 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

@Mac - 'Sorry Ben Pile, but Fiona Fix was arguing from an orthodox position herself and she did attempt to re-write history over the Rwandan massacre.'

Simply restating that Fox was 're-writing history' does not make a persuasive argument that she did.

What history does she 're-write'?

She re-writes none. She doesn't attempt to make the conflict less awful than it was; she doesn't let any player off the hook; she doesn't dispute that people were killed in huge numbers; she doesn't come down on any side.

And far from 're-writing history', she was actually there, seeing the aftermath of the conflict, and its continuation.

What she does is challenge the black-and-white moral story told by NGOs and Western agencies at the time. History shows that she was right, but not because she wrote it.

Let's not take lazy swipes at FF.


@ Pete H - 'Possibly the last line on the archived page may help sway readers opinions! "Reproduced from Living Marxism issue 85, December 1995"'

I think you insult those readers' intelligence. Why would that line say anything about the analysis within the article itself?

Feb 9, 2011 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Ben interesting though your defence seems to be I don't think many will agree!=
After an article entitled 'Massacring the truth in Rwanda' appeared in the December 1995 issue of Living Marxism. The magazine subsequently reported receiving 'a stream of outraged letters from the Nazi-hunters of the prestigious Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, the Rwandan embassy, the London-based African Rights group and others.'
Rakiya Omaar and Alex de Waal of African Rights wrote to the magazine to express their outrage at the article: 'Investigating crimes against humanity gives one a high threshold of shock. But the article by Fiona Foster on Rwanda (Massacring the truth in Rwanda, December 1995) was the sort of writing that we never expected to appear in print. We each read it with a growing sense of outrage, leaving us at the end simply numb. Had your paper been entitled Living Fascism we might have been less surprised, but even then we would have expected something a little more circumspect. Not only do you make an apologia for the genocide - the first to appear in print in a widely sold English language publication - but go so far as to question its very reality. This is not only an affront to the truth, in defiance of the fundamentals of humanity, but deeply offensive to the survivors of the third indisputable genocide of this century'.
Fiona Foster is Fox's alias! why? I have no idea!
Given her involvement in the Devine tribunal case
'What came as a surprise was the revelation far down the story that the fake call in question was made by Fiona Fox, head of the Science Media Centre in London!' ' she made a call posing as a journalist looking into MPs' expenses.'
I would be inclined to feel she has a big trust issue hanging over her!

Feb 9, 2011 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered Commentermat

I'm sorry, Mat, but you do no more that merely restate opinion.

Please explain what history you believe to have been 're-written'.

Fox neither apologises for, nor 'denies' anything. What she questions is the use of the term 'genocide' by western agencies and NGOs to suit their own moral/political agenda.

Feb 9, 2011 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Mat - yes, I had forgotten about the call she made to Devine's secretary. She is clearly an untrustworthy character, playing politics and spinning for her chums in the Labour party and BBC, and evidently some clients in the corporate sector, under the guise of science advocacy. I think Levelgaze's comment is brilliant and well worth repeating:


Feb 9, 2011 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Ben (great blog btw), are you of the opinion that Fionas background as a writer for Living Marxism has no bearing on her political writing today?

The BBC article says that "Fiona Fox is Director of the Science Media Centre - an independent press office working on the front line between the national news media and science on controversial issues"

How independent can a closet Marxist be?

I wonder if your view would be the same if she out of the closet, and was a Director of 'The living Marxist Science and Media centre'?

Feb 9, 2011 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Frosty, I occasionally write for the descendent of Living Marxism, Spiked.

So I guess I must be a 'closet Marxist'. What does that say about my blog?

If you read the stuff put out there by the likes of Spin Profiles/GM Watch/Powerbase -- which is a project organised, supported and funded by the likes of Caroline Lucas, Zac Goldsmith, and George Monbiot, the Optimum Population Trust -- you'll see that it is they who have the most to say about Fox's article being 'genocide denial'. You'll also notice that they question the integrity of the SMC, because of Fox's association with LM magazine in the same way you have.

I think there's plenty to criticise Fox for, whether or not she's the Fiona Foster who wrote the article (and I don't know, either way). Actually, I think the article in question was both very brave, and very insightful.

The stuff she's written more recently, however, speaks for itself. It's not very brave, and does little to shed any light on the debate.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like to think that, whether or not an argument comes from a Marxist, or from a devout capitalist, its merits are in the argument, not in the author's associations, past or present. We should criticise FF for what she writes, not bogus interpretation of what she writes, and innuendo about her past political associations.

Feb 9, 2011 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>