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« The ethics of global warming policy | Main | Spamvertising - Josh 207 »
Thursday
Mar072013

Thought crimes

Maxwell Boykoff has written one of those activism-dressed-up-as-academia papers on the subject of media coverage of climate change. Apparently the media should be ignoring dissenting views. Who would have thought it!

To the extent that mass media misrepresent and/or gratuitously cover these outlier views, they contribute to ongoing illusory, misleading, and counterproductive debates within the public and policy communities, and poorly serve the collective public.

Sounds as though these transgressors are public enemies. Burn them in the streets I say.

Boykoff gets a lot wrong in his two paragraphs on Climategate. This sentence was a goodie:

After 6 months of multiple independent investigations into possible wrongdoing by data manipulation and the violation of U.K. Freedom of Information laws, Phil Jones and the other climate scientists involved in the email discussions were cleared of the legal charges (Adam, 2010).

Independent - nope. The Russell inquiry was to all intents and purposes run by a former colleague of Jones. And no legal charges were ever brought because of the statute of limitations, so nobody was "cleared" of anything. But Jones was found guilty of misleading policymakers over "hide the decline", so the allegation of data manipulation stuck. Oh yes, and we still have no investigation of the allegations of journal nobbling, so the questions over the integrity of the climate literature remain.

I wonder what the rest of the paper is like?

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Reader Comments (28)

If you read the "After 6 months..." extract before the "To the extent..." extract it seems to make sense.

Mar 7, 2013 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

A brief scan suggests its pish and woo, but isn't Colorado the home of Dr Pielke jr ? I'll await his take - as they are both pictured here

http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/

Going to the kitchen to get a tea must be interesting in that place.

Mar 7, 2013 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

I like this bit..."and counterproductive debates "

But I almost forgot that "The science is settled"

PW

Mar 7, 2013 at 8:35 AM | Registered Commenterpeterwalsh

Max has ongoing interests in climate adaptation, cultural politics and environmental governance, science-policy interactions, and political economy and the environment. He has experience working in North America, Central America, South Asia and Europe.

He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies (with a parenthetical notation in Sociology) from the University of California-Santa Cruz (2006) and Bachelor of Sciences from The Ohio State University (1995).

Sounds like a early-edition "Climate Sociologist".

Doesn't tell us what his BSc was in.

Definitely a pod-person though.

Mar 7, 2013 at 8:36 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

The BBC has alreadybeaten Boykoff to the draw.

Mar 7, 2013 at 8:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Oddly this is not a bad thing , like their addiction to claiming 'conspricy ' is behind why the public has fallen out of love with AGW , the call for AGW sceptics to be silenced with only the 'correct ' views allowed. Is actual counter-productive for the cause . For it sells very badly with that same public and actual stops them from making changes that would actula make a difference .

Has with the 'madness of Mann' sometimes the best idea is to let them get on with shooting themselves in the foot .

Mar 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Perhaps a House of Commons Select Committee should be set up to discuss "Thought Crimes"?

Mar 7, 2013 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

"Oddly this is not a bad thing , like their addiction to claiming 'conspricy ' is behind why the public has fallen out of love with AGW , the call for AGW sceptics to be silenced with only the 'correct ' views allowed. Is actual counter-productive for the cause."

Not really - keeping dissenting views away from any "authoritative" institution is key to their whole enterprise, and *the* success factor of the whole CAGW narrative so far.

Sure, the whole suppression effort will gradually lead to increasing levels of public suspicion and muffled groans within academia, but that is still far preferable to the effect that a level playing field would have on their position.

Mar 7, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterOkes

Interestingly much political reporting can follow this pattern. If we look at the amount of time given to Nigel Farage of UKIP with no MPs, compared to that of Plaid Cymru or the SNP with multiple MPs, the coverage is obviously disproportionate. Climate, as anyone who reads WUWT is a political issue despite the best efforts of many to depoliticise it. The skeptics are apparently conservative, with those who support IPCC etc being rampant Marxists.Using this idea I would predict that Nigel Farage is a skeptic, so given his disproportionate exposure will will see skeptic arguments being given more airtime?

Mar 7, 2013 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterGarethman

The bias, circular thinking and political activism in social science seems to be even worse than in climate science.
Boykoff's main claim seems to be that sceptics have been given excessive attention in the media . Of course the opposite is true, as shown from the climategate emails and from the 28gate story - activist journalists like Black, Harrabin and Revkin do what they are told.

Boykoff provides no evidence to support his main claim, but he doesn't need to. He knows it's true, because he's read it in the Guardian and in the papers by Oreskes and McCright & Dunlap.

I was puzzled by the claim at the top of p 3 about ' the October 2009 U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre report of possible “global cooling” ' - what report is he referring to? He doesn't give a citation.

Mar 7, 2013 at 9:29 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Oddly this is not a bad thing , like their addiction to claiming 'conspricy ' is behind why the public has fallen out of love with AGW , the call for AGW sceptics to be silenced with only the 'correct ' views allowed. Is actual counter-productive for the cause .

Mar 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM | KnR


I agree with KnR, but Napoleon expressed the same idea more succinctly:

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

I am sure that both Nelson and Wellington would have agreed with Napoleon about that.

Mar 7, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Media ethics should be such that would lead to objective reporting and the quest to treat people as rational individuals thus providing the greatest good but the media see themselves having a duty to their community (not necesssarily the general public). This duty is to select and interpret the facts and feed their community with conclusions regardless of bias. So the media has moved from reporting the experts in a field to being experts themselves and they are highly under qualified.

Mar 7, 2013 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterEric H.

Foxgoose

I think you may have missed the best part of his biography

"In addition, research Max co-authored with Jules Boykoff (Pacific University) appeared in the 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth. "
http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/people/boykoffmax.php

Ignoring the bad English, no conflixt of interest there!

For those who like to laugh at people who have problems thinking try

http://www.countercurrents.org/cc-boykoff080706.htm

Mar 7, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

There's surely few forums in modern society where we see such naked bias and concerted, repeated attempts at suppressing free speech as in climate science.

Climate change advocates simply cannot handle an ever-growing dissent amongst scientists, commentators and the public, which is perhaps not surprising as such dissent has flowed squarely from repeated observed evidence that flatly contradicts the theory and thus their own AGW alarmism.

In a sane world any conflicting evidence would be heard, assessed and counter-argued according to the facts. In the la-la land of politically driven climate science the only solution offered is to try and shut down debate altogether. Thanks to the internet and blogs like BH, they will not succeed.

They're worried about opposing views because facts are falling against them. They're losing the AGW argument, and they know it.

Mar 7, 2013 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

This is all just the latest incarnation of that beloved Marxist trope 'False consciousness'.

1. We keep telling people the truth.
2. They don't believe us.
3. It can't be that we are wrong. (Obviously) Therefore...
4. People are being manipulated by brainwashing.
5. We need to work harder at our own brainwashing.

At least it's better than the alternative. Everyone from the Fabians to revolutionaries have a different step 5, namely: We sieze control and tell them what to do. It's for their own benefit after all. Even if they're too stupid to realise it.

Mar 7, 2013 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

In some corner, it must be quite frustrating to Boykoff, one of the architects of the media prowess of the climate activist movement, as the author of the "false balance" thesis, to see years of hard work by mainstream media wrecked by a rag-tag band of amateurs who seem to come out of nowhere.

Boykoff now has at least a couple of papers on Climategate, an event he can barely bring himself to even call by its name, but yet has to write about it and get papers out of. The earlier one began by framing Climategate as the overnight creation of Marc Morano by the mere clever use of words, to put it briefly.

Both papers are nothing by the attempted deligitimization of Climategate in the social studies sphere. You tag it, and hopefully with your word on it as a serious leader in the field, no one else would follow up.

I wonder how Pielke Jr is taking it, with his 'skeptics are irrelevant'. How are both irrelevance and undue influence both possible?

Those who think Pielke Jr would have something to say about Boykoff's paper are neither paying close attention to what Pielke is writing nor placing him in the context of the academic environment he operates out of.

Mar 7, 2013 at 11:07 AM | Registered Commentershub

Eric H said:

So the media has moved from reporting the experts in a field to being experts themselves and they are highly under qualified

This is particularly obvious on 24-hour news channels. The real experts are often not available when required, so instead the news reader plays the reporter role, and interviews the reporter playing the export role. Quite daft.

Mar 7, 2013 at 11:09 AM | Registered Commentersteve ta

Paul M, the report Boykoff refers to is Paul Hudson's article references to which are in the Climategate emails.

The whole passage is, plainly put, stupid. In 2008, Richard Kerr in a Science article addressed the same question. The issue of stagnation of temperatures has been around from even earlier, and not just a creation of skeptics designed to capture media attention. If temperatures don't rise, people will talk about it, the gag orders of 'false balance' notwithstanding.

Mar 7, 2013 at 11:35 AM | Registered Commentershub

Boykoff:

To the extent that mass media misrepresent and/or gratuitously cover these outlier views, they contribute to ongoing illusory, misleading, and counterproductive debates within the public and policy communities, and poorly serve the collective public.

Suppose this meant that the mass media's misrepresentation of outlier views has muddied the dialog with debates over outlier views not actually held, ah, er , because the actual views were misrepresented. For example, we are accused of denial. Does this not misrepresent the outlier(?) views of most of us?

Mar 7, 2013 at 12:11 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Garethman true the mistake is that people think that because the science supporting 'the cause ' is poor that should be enough to bring it down . In pratice its on the political front that the war will be won as science is merely acting has a poor servant to this .

Mar 7, 2013 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

According to one of the best known physicists of the early 20th century, Max Planck:

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

We might have to wait until the main lights in the current generation of climate scientists have retired before fresh thinking triumphs.

Mar 7, 2013 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

We might have to wait until the main lights in the current generation of climate scientists have retired before fresh thinking triumphs.
By which time how many of us will have frozen to death, I can't help wondering.

Mar 7, 2013 at 1:26 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The moment you allow emotion to define your views on climate matters, you inevitably fall into a black/white, good/bad polarisation -- what Craig Loehle calls categorical thinking.

From that stance, something can't be slightly good or bad, but completely so. So skeptics cannot be slightly wrong, they must be completely wrong -- deniers, fossil-fuel funded shills, evil and greedy people spreading disinformation. Wind good, fracking bad. Biofuel good, fossil fuel bad.

The ascendancy of unrestrained emotionalism, the idea that one's feelings are of paramount importance, is the enduring curse of the post-modern mentality.

Mar 7, 2013 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Bifurcation fallacy comes to mind. Either you supprt CAGW or you don't care for the environment.

Mar 7, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric H.

On topic, just recently - Richard on Bob

@richardabetts
Once again I seem to have attracted the disapproval of the climate thought police ie: @ret_ward

https://twitter.com/richardabetts/status/290510275508072448

Mar 7, 2013 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Not sure he's right about the "thought" bit, though, Barry.
I've always seen Ward as a sort of "I Speak Your Weight" machine only without the sophistication.
If you notice, he never turns his back on you; it's so you can't see where Grantham sticks the key.

Mar 7, 2013 at 4:20 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Re: Boykoff; as if the torrent of worldwide Reuters, AP, AFP etc... press releases, paraphrases and articles, comments and innuendos by political pundits accompanying any alarmist paper in Nature or Science did not exist...

Mar 7, 2013 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

An opposition to debate is a just a disguised admission of one's own intellectual bankruptcy.

Mar 9, 2013 at 7:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomcat

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