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« Hilary on Burton | Main | Nobel laureate on temperatures »
Friday
Feb032012

Silencing your critics

Sometimes concurrent events can cause, if not cognitive dissonance, then at least a pause for thought. The news today brings two such events into focus.

Firstly, there is a petition to have Michael Mann disinvited as a speaker at a public lecture at his home university, Penn State, a kerfuffle reported in indignant terms by Andy Revkin here. (In passing I'm struggling to recall similar indignation from Revkin over all the disinvitations to sceptics -perhaps my memory is failing me, or perhaps it's the attempt to show public support for a disinvitation that is upsetting him).

Meanwhile, the Australian billionairess Gina Rinehart has bought major stakes in several media businesses, bringing with it access to Australian TV and the horrible possibility of sceptic voices being heard by ordinary law-abiding folk. The upshot is another petition, this time demanding that Australian media ownership rules be changed to prevent this kind of wickedness.

 

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Reader Comments (78)

Ah yes. Gina Rinehart (sp). The coal billionaire. Pure coincidence, of course.

Feb 3, 2012 at 8:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"The coal billionaire"

Coal and iron ore billionaire surely? ;)

Great. I am all for overt influence in media, Branson can buy another company and they both can hire who they want and people can watch what they want. The whole myth of requiring the posture of impartiality in any sector of the media is a big load of hypocrisy that mysteriously all sides in the political divide seem to use and abuse.

Feb 3, 2012 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Is a diversity of view not a good thing BBD? Are only the vested interests of the ruling party to be thought pure? Is discussion not a good thing? There are a lot of calls these days for one view or another to be prevented expressing itself. Do you agree that only views with which one agrees should be allowed to be published?

Feb 3, 2012 at 8:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

"The coal billionaire"
How disgusting big Al will be turning in his gold plated 27th home ! shame the media only has the heaters and their multi millions of funding to stand up to this sort of stuff !

Feb 3, 2012 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered Commentermat

Re: BBD

> Ah yes. Gina Rinehart (sp). The coal billionaire. Pure coincidence, of course.

Of course, it is a coincidence. You would never get billionaires in one area expanding into another would you? For example, I would never expect somebody in the music business to; run a train company, run an airline, run a telecommunications company, run a spaceship company etc. It is unheard of. Next thing you know these multi millionaires and billionaires will be congregating in Antarctica for publicity stunts.

Feb 3, 2012 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Sceptic voices are already being heard by ordinary law-abiding folk in the Antipodes, in particular the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley's dulcet tones. The point AVAAZ is making is that Gina has form on influencing her editors, witness Andrew Bolt's rise on Channel Ten in line with Gina's rise to the Board of
Ten surely not unconnected to her deep pockets.

Feb 3, 2012 at 8:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

Big ideological split here between the people who are OK if someone uses a billiion of their own money to get a platform, and those who think it's somehow more moral if a billion of taxpayers' money is spent on pushing a personal agenda.

Feb 3, 2012 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Cumbrian Lad

Is a diversity of view not a good thing BBD? Are only the vested interests of the ruling party to be thought pure?

I thought I had made it plain here at BH that I am agin all vested corporate interest when it seeks to warp public policy for its own benefit.

The fact that GR's self-interest is so blatant should cause anyone defending democracy to reject her influence out of hand. Even if they are a 'climate sceptic'.

Feb 3, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Re: Hengist

> witness Andrew Bolt's rise on Channel Ten in line with Gina's rise to the Board of Ten surely not unconnected to her deep pockets.

Top marks for getting so much unsupported innuendo into so few words. You imply:

1. Andrew Bolt never achieved his status through hard work, but through Gina's influence.
2. Gina never made it onto the Board of Ten because of her ability.
3. Gina hands out bribes.

A more subtle innuendo is that sceptics would never rise to any position anywhere without backer's in the coal (or oil) industry.

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

BBD

All human discourse is about "warping" views to its own point of. Basically you seem to subscribe to the myth of impartiality in disbursing information more complicated than train timetables ;)

If no corporate influence is permitted then I am guessing (you leave a healthy gap for this as usual) that you seem to think governments should provide the "non" vested information on policy? Or maybe disinterested groups of people who somehow spontaneously get together out of right thinking concern, like say er, um Greenpeace?

Who are the mythical wielders of disinterested policy advice to you?

It is scientists isn't it? Am I right?

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Ah yes. Gina Rinehart (sp). The coal billionaire. Pure coincidence, of course.
BBD

Think before you post BBD! You ask for huge amount of posts about bias! Shall we start with our very own BBC?

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

@TerryS

I'm sure Bolt works hard, but his career has been helped along by sharing Gina's views.
You are closest to the mark on number 2. Look I'm not alone "The Bolt Report has widely been seen as an attempt by Rinehart to wield political influence by proxy given Bolt shares her strong anti-mining tax and anti-carbon tax views." The Power Index
I'd like to make it clear I'm not saying (3) Gina hands out bribes.

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

By he way Bish, I love the line at the bottom of the "Rules to be Changed" link

"Sign the petition to Minister Conroy now to ensure a mogul-free Australian media."

I wonder how Murdoch empire is doing!

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Here's a little rejoinder to those who argue that the sceptic/warmist debate is simply a matter of personalities: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2012/02/uah-global-temperature-update-for-january-2012-0-09-deg-c/

Atmospheric temperatures are plummeting as we have the coldest European winter for 25 years.

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

"The fact that GR's self-interest is so blatant ..."

You will never remove self interest from policy making unless you remove human beings from the stage and replace them with robots. Even then you have to look carefully at who's doing the programming.

I would contend that having the interest clear and transparent is in fact making it acceptable. As I said in another comment recently, the honesty of a commercial interest is far preferable to the de haut en bas of the intellectual who feigns objectivity but is pushing an agenda or self interest just the same.

In the same way, the Gleikes and Manns of this world expect to be accepted as purely objective 'scientists' as though they were some exotic sub-species that is not prey to the hubris and many faults of humanity.

I want to know where a man stands, and want him to be honest about it. Then I can trust him, even though I may not agree with him.

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

It's another one of those irregular verbs: I am impartial, You are misinformed, He warps views to push his agenda.

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

The upshot is another petition, this time demanding that Australian media ownership rules be changed to prevent this kind of wickedness.

Shades of the graun's witch hunt against the NOTW, which was all a front to halt the advance of the EVIL Murdoch empire.

Wheels within wheels; which disguised the real reasons [a successful thwarting too] to stymie any ambition to provide an alternative point of view in the mainstream British media and thus, a redress of the political left leaning MSM in Britain.

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

If someone wants to take their own money, buy up a newspaper, and have it print nothing but pages of bunny-pictures, then that's fine.

Having the government enforce the views of leftists on all of the media (which is what .gov 'regulatory watch-dogs' inherently DO), then that it not fine.

Fox is doing so well in the USA simply because it LIES LESS than does the rest of the MSM. People WILL pay for factual, un-biased news: that is, if they are allowed the choice...

Yes, it must indeed drive the Leftist-hippies crazy, that evil idea that the masses be denied
Their Awesome Ideological Guidance... why, who knows what the peasants could get up to! They might, gasp, DE-FUND HIPPIE INSTITUTIONS!!! Oh no!!! The horror!!!

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered Commentercb

TLITB

It is scientists isn't it? Am I right?

Choose for yourself:

1/. The extractive industries - driven by profit and self-interest

2/ Atmospheric scientists - vocational exploration of the radiative properties of the atmosphere

Who would you trust, eh?

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Personally I am all in favour of blatant self-interest. At least you then know what you're getting and if you don't like it you can go some place else.
It trumps the alternative any day which is the holier-than-thou vested (non-)corporate interests like Greenpeace and FoE and WWF and the Club of Rome and the Sierra Club and the IPCC (and have I missed anybody important?) who try to persuade a gullible public and even more gullible bureaucracy that they are in it for the benefit of humanity.
I'll take the ones who have made a success of their lives by doing things that the people approve of (public approval being in the long run the only way to success in business) over those who have done precious little but whinge and hold out a begging bowl.

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Bish - you may not have seen another current case of a sceptic (Prof. Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt) being disinvited from speaking, at the University of Osnabrück. Derails at NoTricksZone.
URL: http://notrickszone.com/2012/02/01/university-of-osnabruck-shuts-down-debate-calls-skepticism-provocative/

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

MJ

So when a titan of the extractive industries starts buying up media assets to make herself even more money by distorting public policy, that's fine.

And your 'response' is simply the old, unfounded and tinfoilish claim that 'all climate scientists are eco-activist nutters'.

Okay. I think you've said your bit. And no, it wasn't very convincing.

Feb 3, 2012 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Again BBD you posit a false dichotomy. Are you saying that profit itself is an intrinsic evil? Is a scientific vocation always so pure and unsullied? Ambition, ruthless self regard and careerism with concomitant monetary gain are unknown in the science community? Not even office (lab) politics? Are there no industrial philanthropists who, despite their faults have funded great good from their ill gotten gains?

The world can be thought of in such black and white terms, but reality is far stranger.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

BBD

Who would you trust, eh?

Well, trust for what is the question begged?

I mean I wouldn't want any old atmospheric scientist drilling my teeth ;)

Anything"driven by profit and self-interest" is more understandable to human nature than the modern day artificiality of the claimed construct of impartiality, which is someting that can't be pinned down to a recognisable human archetype however is always claimed to live out <there somewhere in some mysterious space maybe in earthly form in corporate identities like the BBC for example.
Are you saying atmospheric scientists should dictate whether we should prevent coal and hydro projects going ahead in Africa because of some paper they have in pre-approval in Nature? Meanwhile the paper gets rejected and thousands of Africans dies of repiratory diseases while we wait.
I'm not saying that is the direct causality, mind you, but that is the implication of the gaps in your philosphy - you see scientific determinism leaking out all over the place where it shouldn't be.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterTS

TS - and others

Science is the exploration of nature. You are getting it muddled up with energy policy, which is determined by politicians in the light of what science has discovered about the radiative properties of the atmosphere.

You are smearing the messenger.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD wrote: I thought I had made it plain here at BH that I am agin all vested corporate interest when it seeks to warp public policy for its own benefit.

I feel the same way about the BBC.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

MJ and others mesmerised by the wonders of corporate enterprise

I'll take the ones who have made a success of their lives by doing things that the people approve of (public approval being in the long run the only way to success in business) over those who have done precious little but whinge and hold out a begging bowl.

Public approval the only way to succeed in business? My, where have you been? Managing perception is what it's all about. Hence the tremendous usefulness of controlling a few media outlets (Berlusconi, anyone?).

This can sometimes mean keeping a low profile and your customers happy, rather than worrying the public with unpleasant facts about the consequences of your business activities.

See Heckler & Koch, just as one example among very, very many. Note the 'Criticisms' section.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

@TerryS

"1. Andrew Bolt never achieved his status through hard work, but through Gina's influence."

1- A lot of people work hard, many of them for pittance, but it takes particular skills and influence to get a gig on TV. Not every Dick and Harry is given air time on TV because you've got to be showman to begin with. Presumably, Channel Ten hopes to win over Bolt's dedicated fan base as well by hiring him.

"2. Gina never made it onto the Board of Ten because of her ability."

2- Sure, she made it there by her ability to pay for 10 percent share in the company. And she inherited that 'ability' from her father. She didn't work like a dog like most millionaires do to make that first million dollars which, I am told, is the hardest ever. The more money you have the easier it becomes to make even more.

"3- Gina hands out bribes.

[snip - manners]

When the government sought to legislate for an increased share of the country's resource profits, she contributed to the 40-million dollar fear-mongering advertising campaign that opposed it. The mining companies' successful defeat of the Labor attempt to take a share of the profits (the government had to settle for 40 percent of what it had asked) was one of the reasons why the Labor reneged on its election promise and introduced a Carbon Tax.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

No BBD, I'm afraid you're dodging the question. You appear to be saying that a commercial interest is by its nature corrupt, and that a scientist can have no ulterior or impure motives. Is this your belief, or would you agree that a person in trade or commerce is at least likely to be honest and trustworthy as the person in academia?

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

The BBC does what the government tells it. Have you forgotten what happened to Greg Dyke already?

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Cumbrian Lad

Corporations are by definition self-serving. I did not say corrupt. You did. I have been clear enough about this above. Please review my comments.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

@ Cumbrian Lad Feb 3, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Quite.

The trouble with BBD's studenty type of argument here is that Greenpeace, Enemies of Humanity (well, they call themselves Friends of the Earth, but I cut to the chase), WWF etc fit very well into his first category, while Lysenko, the mediaeval Church, and Phil Jones fit well into the second.

Of course there is a third category to add, which is lowlife who wholeheartedly support the efforts of those in the second category, usually because it enables them to fill their pockets in the way BBD ascribes to the first, or for some other disreputable reason.

Thus carbon permit VAT carousel fraudsters, phishing scammers, the Mafia, the Camorra, Enron, and Osama bin Laden are all shoulder to shoulder with the like of Al Gore and BBD.

Most normal people would be brought up short if they found themselves in complete agreement with so many organised and disorganised criminals on, well, anything really.

One has to wonder what it is about these ecofascist loonies, really.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

BBD:

"1/. The extractive industries - driven by profit and self-interest"

Fair enough. We know exactly where they stand, and can judge accordingly.

"2/ Atmospheric scientists - vocational exploration of the radiative properties of the atmosphere "

Please add: “Who seek funding for projects, and accept that to merely plod along in a suitable scientific manner may not be as effective as creating a sensational scare-story based upon the few results achieved to date. Being able to hide behind a huge wall of disinformation, handily provided by politicians and media will certainly help.”

"Who would you trust, eh?"

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

The other point about BBD's category 2 is that it fails to take into account the possibility that these saintly scientists might be a bit thick.

When it's UEA we're talking about, this is a heinous omission.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

J4R

As usual, you show that you are incapable of separating out the various layers of an argument. Like others, you conflate ENGOs, criminals, the mediaeval church, Osama bin Laden and climate scientists. And myself.

And then accuse me of 'studenty-type' argument.

Give me patience.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BH - rather than banning me again, perhaps you might consider moderating this thread?

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

You imply corrupt motives, if not explicity saying so. Let's go with 'self serving' if you prefer:

You are saying that a commercial interest is by its nature self serving, and that a scientist can have no ulterior or impure motives. Is this your belief, or would you agree that a person in trade or commerce is at least likely to be honest and trustworthy as the person in academia?

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

BBD,

My dealings with academics tells me that they are a breed apart. The correlation of high intelligence with autism spectrum disorders means that, in my experience, there is a high proportion of academics who lack empathy and are capable of dedicatedly working outside the boundaries of that some of us would recognise as a conscience for the furtherance of their own careers or other objectives. They can be very dangerous personalities indeed. 'Professor' (UK version, i.e. not US code for lecturer) tends to mean one of two things in the UK - old school genius (rare) or something obsessive that you really don't want to see the dark side of.

The idea that there is some sort of higher moral calling in academia over industry can surely only come from somebody who has not been exposed to the harsh reality.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

Bishop: I feel this post has found its hole and should be buried.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

Carr

I asked BH to do the moderating. Not you.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"When the government sought to legislate for an increased share of the country's resource profits,"

When the Feds decided to try to take over the property rights of the States is more like it.

The miners pay royalties to the States who constitutionally "own" the resource as well as company tax to the Feds.

The whole episode has been a disaster, mining stocks have tanked and Swannie is wondering why capital gains tax revenue has tanked.


** disclaimer: I own mining shares.


Breaking news !! more Heads will explode frrm the latest news.

GINA Rinehart has appointed Professor Ian Plimer to the board of several key family companies.
And now Clive is messing with their heads Lol.

Feb 3, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterRipper

Cumbrian Lad

Is this your belief, or would you agree that a person in trade or commerce is at least likely to be honest and trustworthy as the person in academia?

Corporations are not individuals. False equivalence. Non-argument.

Have a look at The Corporation (Joel Bakan, 2004).

Feb 3, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD

Your post at 9:57 AM was the first one that stepped over the line into bad manners.

Last warning.

Feb 3, 2012 at 11:04 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

BH

I sense a certain bias here.

Feb 3, 2012 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

[venting]

Feb 3, 2012 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

My question relates to the individual. A corporation by legal requirement has to be self serving. The question of motive can only relate to the individuals involved. Similarly whilst the Royal Society, The Monarchy or Confederation of British Industry can have very high aims and objectives, the real test is what the individuals running those bodies actually do. My question to you stands.

Feb 3, 2012 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Plimmer, wasn't he the guy that Moonbat couldn't debate because he didn't have a grasp of the science of Mann Made Global Warming (tm), even though he had been dutifully slamming anyone who dared question his religion for years and then had to go running to "The Team" for help?

Could be worse I guess...she could have appointed Prof Jones! :)

Mailman

Feb 3, 2012 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

[goodbye]

Feb 3, 2012 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

So the BBC was so well-behaved under NL that TB had to sack Dyke....

Right.

Feb 3, 2012 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

That's neither here not there BBD. You cannot sit there in honesty and say the BBC is impartial and unbiased. The BBC is the print version of the Guardian, they are advocates for Mann Made Global Warming (tm), Palestinian statehood, so called human rights, multiculturalism and the destruction of the British way of life through its overt support of the EU...AND they are relentless in their unbridled love and support of Labour and it's hatred of the Tories.

What's worse is the BBC no longer reports the news. No, these days it reports it's own opinions AS the news.

Mailman

Feb 3, 2012 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

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