You may remember that I emailed Emma Jay, the producer of the Horizon programme who appeared to have misled James Delingpole over the nature of the programme. The BBC promised to get back to me and now, with a bit of prompting, they have sent me a copy of the letter that editor Aidan Laverty sent in response to Delingpole's article in the Spectator:
In response to James Delingpole’s article last week I wanted to clear up a few points concerning the Horizon documentary ‘Science Under Attack.’
From the outset, we made clear to James that the purpose of this film was to examine public trust in science generally - not just in the area of climate change - reflecting both the role of scientists and the influence of the internet and bloggers. At no point did anyone on the production team lie or mislead any contributors about the programme's content or objective.
Well, hold on Lord Copper, in her letter to Delingpole Emma Jay said this:
The tone of the film is very questioning but with no preconceptions. On the issue of who is to blame no-one will be left unscathed, whether that is science sceptics, the media or most particularly scientists themselves. Sir Paul is very aware of the culpability of scientists and that will come across in the film. They will not be portrayed as white coated magicians who should be left to work in their ivory towers – their failings will be dealt with in detail.
None of this was true, was it? The tone of the film was unquestioning and carried a clear preconception that sceptics were wrong. No scientist emerged criticised in any meaningful way. The idea that Sir Paul felt the scientists to be culpable in some way (if indeed he does) was not conveyed to the audience and none of the scientists' failings were discussed. This is hard to square with Mr Laverty's statement that " At no point did anyone on the production team lie or mislead any contributors about the programme's content or objective." Very hard indeed.
To return to the new missive...
We recorded an interview in good faith with James lasting just over 90 minutes - a typical length of interview for most scientific documentaries. The film contained five minutes from this interview, including what we believed were his key arguments.
Were they what he believed were his key arguments though, or was this just another example of sceptic arguments having to be interpreted by an environmentalist?
The science in the film was rigorously researched and accurate.
This is plainly untrue. Even the scientist interviewed by the programme has admitted that he got the figures wrong. It was a clear case of the BBC regurgitating anything that met their preconceived green agenda.
There is a substantial body of evidence that humans – rather than natural causes – are producing most of the increases in atmospheric CO2.
The significance of this human contribution can only be properly assessed against the evidence that the natural release of CO2 into the atmosphere is almost completely balanced by the absorption of CO2 into the land and oceans as part of the carbon cycle.
That ain't what they said in the programme though was it?
Really, this is an appalling letter for the BBC to write. Why do civil servants feel that the correct response to being caught fibbing is to fib some more?