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« An unbalanced panel | Main | Bob spurned »

In which a BBC presenter reveals what balance means

Hat tip to Barry Woods for pointing me to this Twitter exchange, in which the BBC's Helen Czerski reveals what the corporation understands "balance" to mean in the context of the climate debate:

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Reader Comments (120)

I catalogued the errors in Cerski's programme on twitter a day or so later after I saw it on iplayer (I don't have a license to watch her make a fool of herself live)

Mar 28, 2015 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterRog Tallbloke

With Jonathon Renauf acting as a cheer leader for the climate alarmists (who can forget Michael Mann on Climate Wars) and spending a lot of licence money doing it, I can see the "balance".

Of course we also have the green parrot Roger Harribin regurgertating whatever green nonsense he stumbles on. The barring by the BBC of any sceptical scientists - can't have the half-witted climate "scientists" or stupid pretend experts providing answers the BBC want.

It would be easier to ask are there any balanced environmental journalist in the BBC?

Answer - The silence is deafening!

It is wonderful to see our licence money being used to save the planet.

Mar 28, 2015 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

That must be one of the funniest Twitter threads.

Man 's comment must be the funniest. Taking exception to any refence to even a "slowdown", he omnipotent my declares that it be referred to as a "temporary slowdown".

He better guard it closely. Dark forces will be out to steal his crystal ball.

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

This would be funny, if it was not so sad. As for Harribin, the Beeb's chief green flag waver, I remember getting into an email exchange with him when he claimed that he did not know of any climate scientists who were sceptics. Unfortunately things will not change in this country whilst the vast majority of those sitting in parliament are true believers.

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Impartial ... Ho ho. It's because of the unique way the BBC is funded.

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterRousseau

The BBC's balanced bias is demonstrated by having a Green chip, on both shoulders.

Green potatoes are toxic, and turning them into chips, only adds to the risks to human life.

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Helen and Brian Cox are very good when they stick to their areas of expertise, but there is something about climate physics that makes them lose their scientific integrity, i.e. you don't make statements of certainty about that which you know little about, though they probably have a bit more credibility than snail biologists and geneticists.

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Climate obsession is so wrong that its believers have to redefine the entire language to fit their obsession.

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Peter Stroud, Green Screen was a term used for the imposition of a background image in TV.

Now, Green Screen is a term used for imposing a Green point of view, that filters out, everything else.

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

The BBC is so corrupted, it doesn't even know it's corrupt.

Burn it down.

[metaphorically, before any literalist alarmist gets on their imaginary high-horse]

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

I think by using the inverted commas around the term skeptic, Helen was pointing out that the programme didn't include any people who might claim to be skeptics, but really aren't. I can't see any reason why we would want such people on national radio explaining a complex topic that they clearly don't understand. Of course, I'm not arguing that they should be censored, simply pointing out that if you were deciding who to include on such a show, why would you include people who are woefully mis-informed?

Also, given that I suspect that everyone here regards themselves as a real skeptic - rather than pseudoskeptic - I can't really see why you would be all that bothered by Helen's tweet. The only possibility I can think of is that deep down you all realise that you aren't actually genuine skeptics?

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

aTTP, and what about people who are not genuine physicists?

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Just make a complaint and see what the BBC says. It can be quite revealing. Here are a couple I've received:

Complaint 1:
Their response says it all:

"Thank you for your feedback about Storyville: Meet the Climate Sceptics broadcast on 31 January 2011.

Meet the Climate Sceptics was an authored film, clearly presented from the personal perspective of the film maker, Rupert Murray. He focussed on Lord Monckton because he is a high profile and key figure in the debate - as indicated when the Republicans put him forward as the sole witness in a hearing about climate change.

During the film, the film maker gave Lord Monckton the opportunity of presenting his case, also including a right to reply. The film maker was rigorous in his journalism and having trawled the peer reviewed papers on both sides, he discovered that substantially more papers gave evidence of man made global warming. He therefore drew his own conclusions about the issue.". Well, thanks for making that clear to the viewers!

Complaint 2:
My complaint:
"You have interviewed Al Gore on the subject of climate change and he has made various claims that are not substantiated by evidence. He has no scientific expertise whatsoever. Elsewhwere you have objected to Nigel Lawson speaking on the subject of the economics of climate change and have effectively gagged him from all further climate change discussions. On the subject of our responses to climate change (which he does not deny is occurring) I would have thought he was quite capable of making a sensible contribution. Mr Gore, on the other hand, has no expertise in the field of economics either. So why on earth was he interviewed on this subject? Can we have a level playing field on this subject please?"

Their response:
"Thanks for getting in touch with us on 13 July [2014] in connection with the article/interview, We apologise for the very lengthy delay in replying [reply received 3/3/15], so this took some time to concoct. We appreciate a prompt response is desirable and we’re very sorry indeed sorry this hasn’t been the case on this occasion.

You were unhappy that Al Gore was interviewed by the BBC on climate change. You stated that “he has no scientific expertise whatsoever”.

We appreciate your concerns. There is no BBC bar on politicians making comments on climate change. We simply try to frame debates so politicians debate against each other, not against scientists, because we think debates are better framed that way.

In this case Jon Donnison put a point made by Australia’s Tony Abbott (who is not a scientist) to Mr Gore (also not a scientist), which is acceptable. We believe the interview was acceptable because in the broad context of climate science, it is stated by leading meteorologists that Australia’s recent record-breaking temperatures are almost certainly elevated by greenhouse gases."

I'd love to see their manual on content guidance climate change programmes and discussions. It must be growing by the day!

Mar 28, 2015 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

ATTP: You are starting to sound a lot like Nick Stokes, creating obtuse argument and defending the indefensible. And is your twitter moniker @theresphysics?

Mar 28, 2015 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterthinkingscientist

From email exchanges I have been involved in with Helen Czerski I can reveal that, in ATTP's words, when it comes to the physics of the climate, she is "woefully mis-informed". So why is she included in the show (except she is onside with the BBC green propaganda)?

Mar 28, 2015 at 10:10 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The BBC is thundering down the alley towards defunding. It finds it increasingly hard to pretend it's not out of touch with almost all of its license payers. Like the Guardian, it will eventually start to contract and end up the preserve of green loonies, champaigne socialists and anti westerners. They'll sit on the sidelines whining that more commercial channels just try to appeal to the lowest common denominator ie the public. Alan Yentob's interview over Clarkson is an excellent example.

ATTP, you still haven't told us why you and all the other faux AGW believers won't take the lead in cutting CO2. The BBC is a fine example of do as I say, not as I do. Think of all the money that could be spent cutting CO2 if we shut BBC down. It would be a trade I'd sign up to.

Mar 28, 2015 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Look how aTTP automatically decries any 'sceptic' as 'failing to understand the subject' or being 'misinformed'. What patronising BS is that?

Mar 28, 2015 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

There are some who simply cannot imagine real skepticism, so they have to put italics, or modifiers upon the term. It's a pity.

What gets lost in the shuffle too often is that most skepticism centers not around the existence of AGW but rather the magnitude of it. So the alarmist consensus, the 'true believers' can ignore questions about magnitude and divert the discussion to putdowns of those who doubt the existence.

Kiddoes, few doubt the existence, so the arrogance is a little contrived when it is simply a cover for ignoring the real question, and sneering at those who do ask in sincerity, and who doubt with good reason.

But you'll learn, you Helens and Kens.

Mar 28, 2015 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Wow, Helen Czerski, fell in love - we are not worthy.

I have to smile, folk like Brian Cox and I do have a lot of time for him apart from his presentation and slightly pious ways - among others exhort the public to nailed on and no arguments - believe absolutely - in the myth of man made warming.

All the time on his telly programmes, Brian Cox asks, no begs us all to take a leap of imagination and speculate on things we may think [was] are happening in the far off depths of the universe, stuff unproven and only the barest of mathematical possibilities - dark matter for one - though lacking evidence - admittedly imho the logic for such a phenomenon is pretty damn strong.

Mr Brian Cox, has also taken a leap in another totally unexpected direction, he now believes pretty much as I do - that we are unique - Brian we are brothers under the skin mate! Helen - purchase some humility and get a grip on life and the human race.

Mar 28, 2015 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

F'rinstance, Ken, @ 2-5 degrees C/doubling from baseline CO2, do we only have to quadruple it or should we octuple it in order to forestall otherwise inevitable glaciation?

Mar 28, 2015 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Given that you said this on an earlier thread

There is no "greenhouse effect" (except in a greenhouse or similar). The earth's temperature (not that there is such a thing) is determined by standard heat transfer mechanisms, with radiatively active gases (plus direction radiation from the surface) cooling the earth and ensuring that the energy received from the sun is balanced by the energy radiated to space.

the "woefully mis-informed" person in the email exchange you had with Helen Czerski was certainly not Helen Czerski.

You should try reading my comment more carefully and try to actually understand what I was saying. I really don't think that you do.

Mar 28, 2015 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Thought for the day
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth"
Albert Einstein

Mar 28, 2015 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

It is the mentally unbalanced defining "balanced". It is, as I have made a nuisance of myself in repeating throughout the Obama years, the "Insane Left" (as I call them--formerly known as the radical activist Left, actually a coalition of all of the Left's most determinedly radical groups, but they have taken over the entire Left, and the center--only to find that they now must take over the Right, and of course all of us who are simply independent of mind and know how to find the truth for ourselves). And they have broken the system, by filling it with those incapable of good honest reasoning (i.e., being able to face a contrary fact, and hence, an ever-growing flood of contrary facts). There is no reasoning with those who are stuck in all-out-war mode; they twist every word (as this latest example so clearly illustrates) to pretend to themselves that they are the normal ones, the intelligent ones. This is what religions have done to mankind throughout history (Islam is another outstanding example of this now), how they always err when they inevitably err. And it is not just the Western nations; the whole world is once again thoroughly ensnared by long-outmoded, long-outlived, religiously-held tribal thinking, the poison that has been handed down by (the unquestioning ones in) every generation to (the unquestioning ones in) the next, throughout history since the time of the "gods".

Mar 28, 2015 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

Hee, hee, Dessler bessler addressee, Bessemer mucho!

Mar 28, 2015 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

ATTP: You've never told me what is wrong with my statement. But then I guess you can't.

Mar 28, 2015 at 11:06 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

So it's a Win-Win, then, huh Ken? We can't burn enough hydrocarbons to hurt us.

Mar 28, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Athelstan, I do wish you had not given us that link. The lady’s prose is quite stomach-churning, and what little I read is now lodged in my mind and, like an overly-rich, too-sweet pudding, is going to take a long time to digest and expel.

aTTP: as I am rather sceptical of Ms Czerski’s apparent view of “skeptics” [sic], as well as your own views on here, what sort of sceptic does that make me? You see, in my mind, and most probably that of most others on this site, to be sceptical is a good thing – particularly in science. To not believe everything that you are told; to ensure that you check the facts on any story; to understand that there are usually at least two sides to any story, so both have to be listened to to get a fuller picture (and, even then, it might not be the FULL picture). That is my view on scepticism, and, for climate, that none of what is claimed by the high and mighty is being supported by the most basic of observations leads to rapidly changing my scepticism to outright disbelief. For you to so blindly accept whatever you are told implies that you have no scepticism whatsoever, so should not consider calling yourself “scientific”, and has to make your claim to be a physicist suspect.

Mar 28, 2015 at 11:11 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

We might have trouble were it not being radiated to space or diving deep for reserve. I got my druthers, but they may be vain....the energy is most probably gone.

Mar 28, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Maybe the BBC have tried to construct a balance using a 3rd order lever.

Mar 28, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Helen Czerski and Brian Cox are no more and no less than rented talking heads for Jonathan Renouf and merely impart some "status" to the mouthing of a script...

I believe it's always useful to consider the production process - which after reading about BBC Horizon antics over the years - it's something I've done for ages....

The detail is telling - when Brian Cox starts a short monologue to camera about radiative physics arithmetic (simplified) in "Wonders of The Universe" he gets faded - as does just about any other arithmetic "Oh dahling... I can't even work out my bar bill !" And when there's a challenge - these latter day Max Headrooms are only left with sneering insults as a tactic to defend their BBC supply of pieces of silver.

Will they engage? - not on your Telly!

In the meantime - they've changed the Civil Servant's Code ... apparently so that politically mandated scientist gagging can be implemented - what toxic charmers (at DECC?) squeezed that one out? Irony isn't lost - as our Helen has been bleating about it on her Twitterings :0)

Mar 28, 2015 at 11:49 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Have you ever seen Max Headroom and Peter Max in the same room?

Mar 28, 2015 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim


CGI is getting spookily good these days - although I sometimes wonder if the head n shoulders pieces are to crop the puppeteers from the frame.

Looks like the vaunted return of Spitting Image has been strategically delayed till post General Election....

Mar 28, 2015 at 12:15 PM | Registered Commentertomo

In her latest tweets she is digging herself further into a hole, claiming to present evidence fairly then switching to activism - we have to decide what to do, then claiming the sceptic view is often presented. Maybe someone can post them up, not easy from my phone.

Mar 28, 2015 at 12:20 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

aTTP, and what about people who are not genuine physicists?


What you mean like attp. ?

Mar 28, 2015 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

BBC bias - attempted radicalisation of the masses.

Mar 28, 2015 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

ar Paul's request:

Helen:" The balance of evidence is clear. Public now needs to decide what to do, not to repeat last century's debate

Helen Czerski ‏@helenczerski
@dangainor @tan123 @ClimateDepot
It's excellent science source, whatever you think about news. I work v hard to represent evidence fairly

Tom Nelson ‏@tan123
So how does "no skeptic voice" equal "fair" representation of climate evidence?
@BBC @dangainor @ClimateDepot

Helen Czerski ‏@helenczerski · 35m35 minutes ago
@tan123 @dangainor @ClimateDepot The balance of evidence is clear.Public now needs to decide what to do, not to repeat last century's debate

Paul Matthews ‏@etzpcm ·
@helenczerski @tan123 @dangainor @ClimateDepot
bias and political activism, not science. Like your Horizon programme

Helen Czerski @helenczerski
@MsStockford @tan123 @dangainor @ClimateDepot
Evidence for CO2 causing warming is very strong. Consequences are harder to predict in detail.

Helen Czerski @helenczerski
@MsStockford @tan123 @dangainor @ClimateDepot
See Berkeley project, funded by skeptics. Evidence does not support the skeptic view.

Helen Czerski @helenczerski
@MsStockford @tan123 @dangainor @ClimateDepot
The skeptic view is represented more often than is justified by the evidence for that view.

Mar 28, 2015 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Knowing that Tweets and the internet are forever, I hope to live long enough for @theresphysics to feel thoroughly ashamed of having enjoyed the reflected glory of sharing a tweet (I bet he revels in that!) with @MichaelEMann. Then again, it could as easily be that it will be Mann feeling ashamed of the connection.

Mar 28, 2015 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

@ tommo: They really don't think these things through do they? I can think of no other vehicle likely to lead to ever more "leaks" to the media than imposing a gagging order on guvment scientists & engineers! Such leaks are not easy to trace, as if they were, the source of Climategate would be truly known by now!

Mar 28, 2015 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

"O, Lord, we didna Ken, we didna Ken."

Mar 28, 2015 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Alan the Brit

The Streisland effect is over-hyped - I think what's telling about Francis Maude's action is that they feel the need to do it in the first place.

As Sir Humphrey says in Yes Prime Minister

"the Official Secrets Act is not there to protect secrets, but to protect officials"

"They" rue the day seditious libel was repealed.....

The insufferable hubris of our public servants is just epic. Management of information (especially stuff evidencing monumental stupidity or worse) is what they're about They obviously feel uncomfortable with some of their decision taking - to the point where the need to PR it ....

It's time that a large part of the serial incompetents, self selecting eejits and potty ideologues infesting our public institutions were swept away.

Maude indulging in this sort of totalitarian malarkey is simply being sock-puppeted by Sir Humphrey and his worthless chums ... yet again it's deployed by and large to hide incompetence and bad behaviour.

What's actually risible and more than a little ironic - is that the media by and large do their job for them. Blogs are the primary place these days where naughtiness actually comes to light - and oh, boy ! - would they like to shut them down. Take a look at "Inside The Environment Agency" f'rinstance....

Mar 28, 2015 at 1:21 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Kim, I'll put in a good word for the Helens, sui generis.
Or at least, for wholly unknown reasons, statistically I've found they seem to like me.

Of course there is always one bad egg.

Mar 28, 2015 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Looks like the wrong BBC employee got punched in the face and the wrong one got sacked.

Mar 28, 2015 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

but its okay for tough guy cockney actor and current Queen Vic landlord BBC employee Danny Dyer to express his genuine belief in UFOs

So where was the balance there.

Mar 28, 2015 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

@ATTP: since ALL Climate Alchemists have been taught incorrect radiative and IR Physics, none has the right to defend that pseudoscience. Therefore, by definition, those taught standard Physics are not sceptics but real scientists.

This MIT module confuses Radiant Emittance, potential energy flux in a vacuum of an emitter to a sink at 0 deg K, with a real energy flux, when only the vector sum of Irradiances gives that flux:

The next module transposes Emittance for Emissivity. Climate Alchemists also failed to understand self-absorption. Correct these mistakes and there is zero AGW for all well-mixed minor GHGs. I have got sick and tired of people who failed their professional duty to expose the IPCC fraud telling me I do not know Real Science.

Mar 28, 2015 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

I've often noticed in the climate science debate a lack of understanding of the chain of evidence that you need to have to make your conclusions/results hold any weight. People often think it's all about what a paper says or what conclusions where drawn when in fact a result is only as good as the assumptions and methodology that goes into it.

So for example I don't need to be technical to ask how accurately your input data is and if said accuracy justifies the accuracy of your output. In fact that is precisely what auditors do.

So it doesn't matter how lofty or intricate or complicated you think the thing that you are studying is, if you can't measure to the accuracy that you want, if you have to make a list of assumptions to get any output, I just need to question any part of this chain to put your result in doubt.

It is up to the person claiming the result to caveat conclusions with this knowledge. Otherwise, well, it's not professional is it.

To be sceptical, I don't need to understand your theory to its fullest. I can understand logic and metrology instead and my argument can hold equal weight - sometimes more.

Something that should be shouted from the rooftops about climate science. Pity the BBC doesn't seem to understand, or want to understand this.

Mar 28, 2015 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

The only sceptic side that Helen Czerski and crew will have heard is either the more flamboyant comments made by largely American media people or warmist versions of sceptic arguments. I really doubt they have any idea what issues we have with climate science. Do you think they know who Nic Lewis is or what Steve McIntyre's concerns with Mann's work are? They don't know and they don't care. The only thing we can do is persuade them that unless they start listening they will continue to get nowhere. Polls suggest we have the upper hand.

Mar 28, 2015 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

When I was a student at Cambridge in 1895, the Dons decided that, as a science, the contents of physics were settled. Newton had, after all, explained everything there was to know about forces, light, gravity and phlogiston.

In particular they were profoundly irritated with a postman called Albert who kept shouting his mouth off. Fortunately, the vice chancellor found that he was a sex pest and had him locked up.

I am now concerned with our problems in conducting spaceflights to the moon. It is apparent that there is some interference from what we scientists call "warp matter", which is interfering with our instruments, because we keep missing the moon by a couple of hundred miles every time.

We believe that government funding to the tune of £100 billion is required by our department to further investigate this problem.

Mar 28, 2015 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterOld John Miller

I see Tamsin is trying to argue that Helen Czerski does understand the sceptic side. Hmm, I never got round to watching Tamsin's programme but was there anything about CO2 sensitivity and how different values meant that 2 of her 3 numbers were possibly fiction? Or that the first number was just vaguely right and not super accurate, something that is quite important givien the lack of data climate scientists have to work with?

Mar 28, 2015 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

attp, quick questions:

Which is the stronger GHG- water vapour or CO2?

Which is more abundant, and by how much?

Mar 28, 2015 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterOtter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

Radical Rodent

In your explanation of scepticism you have to add that sceptics also are encouraged when forensically established facts are evidence against the proposition about which they are sceptical.

Mar 28, 2015 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

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