Brulle: NY Times article on climate science hearing “fails to inform the public, and plays into the strategy of the climate denial effort.”

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"Brulle: NY Times article on climate science hearing “fails to inform the public, and plays into the strategy of the climate denial effort.”"

The New York Times has published one of its worst climate science pieces.  The headline, “At House E.P.A. Hearing, Both Sides Claim Science,” perfectly captures the he-said/she-said nature of the piece.

Yes, it’s true, both sides ‘claim’ science, but in fact one side rejects actual science.  The NYT mostly played the role of the stenographer here.

I asked Dr. Robert J. Brulle of Drexel University, whom the NYT itself quoted in 2009 as “an expert on environmental communications,” for his comments:

The NY Times has failed to provide any significant context by which to judge the scientific credibility of the contending political positions.  This leaves the reader adrift in competing interpretations, without any tie to the robust scientific evidence about global warming.  The role of the press in a democracy is to inform the public, not just repeat the talking points of politicians. This article fails to inform the public, and plays into the strategy of the climate denial effort, which is to sow confusion and doubt about the science of climate change.

Brulle directed me to the well-known 2004 media analysis by Max and Jules Boykoff, Balance as bias: global warming and the US prestige press, which conducted a content analysis that found:

We conclude that the US prestige press””the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal””has contributed in significant ways to this failed discursive translation through the adherence to journalistic norms, and more specifically to the journalistic norm of balance.  In the end, adherence to the norm of balanced reporting leads to informationally biased coverage of global warming. This bias, hidden behind the veil of journalistic balance, creates both discursive and real political space for the US government to shirk responsibility and delay action regarding global warming.

Plus §a change, plus c’est la mªme chose.

A content analysis of this new piece finds similar results.

I will repeat that the headline remains the single most important line in any news article for several reasons.  First and foremost, it is in bigger font and thus much more memorable all by itself.  Second, many NYT readers never go beyond the headline, which is doubly likely in this case since the headline strongly signals that no actual information will be communicated.  Third, the way links and newsfeeds are set up, the headline is the main thing (if not the only thing) many tens of thousands of other readers will ever see.  Just Google the headline (in quotation marks) to see what I mean.

While this piece treats its subject matter as if it were basically politics, where everyone’s position is equally valid, the NYT posted it under “Science” (where it should belong, given the material covered):

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/science/earth/09climate.html?_r=2

The first few paragraphs provide no information that would change the basic message delivered by the headline.  I’d be interested to know what the statistics are on how many people actually read more than a few sentences in a typical New York Times piece, but readership typically drops off pretty steadily.

The fourth paragraph presents the he-said/she-said about the House GOP :

The measure would overturn the E.P.A.’s finding that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases pose a threat to public health and the environment and would bar the agency from writing any regulations to control them. The bill’s sponsors say that the climate science behind the finding is dubious and that the proposed rules would have a devastating impact on the economy.

The next two paragraphs contain the only slightly normative scientific statement — but it is embedded in a factually incorrect statement and in any case quickly rebutted.

In an effort to support the E.P.A.’s regulatory power, committee Democrats rounded up five eminent academic climatologists who defended the scientific consensus that the planet is warming and that human activities like the burning of fossil fuels are largely responsible. The professors called for swift and concerted action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, although they did not endorse any particular policy means for achieving them.

The Republicans countered with two scientific witnesses who said that while there was strong evidence of a rise in global surface temperatures, the reasons were murky and any response could have adverse unintended effects. Another scientist said that the E.P.A.’s decision to ban the pesticide DDT 40 years ago had led to a huge increase in death and disease in the developing world.

In fact, the Democrats only had four witnesses.  I have no idea why the NYT hasn’t corrected that pretty glaring mistake, since it makes it look like they can’t tell the difference between the real climate scientists and the disinformers.

The NYT simply repeats the absurd claims about DDT.  How precisely would the EPA’s decision to ban DDT lead to bad things happening in the developing world?  Surely that requires at least another sentence, even if the claim were true, which it isn’t.  Anyone who believes the DDT witness has a shred of credibility should go to Deltoid (Tim Lambert) and read his posts, “Donald Roberts, “Scientific Fraud”, and DDT” and “Donald Roberts’ false testimony to Congress” and his multiple posts on DDT.

The NYT has some amusing stuff from science advocate Jay Inslee, and follows it with the best part of the piece:

The scientists themselves, when given the rare opportunity to speak, tried to steer clear of policy matters and stick to their scientific expertise. One witness, Christopher B. Field, director of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science, piqued the interest of members on both sides of the aisle by detailing new research on the adverse effects of rising temperatures on agriculture. Dr. Field said crops had certain temperature thresholds above which yields dropped sharply. For corn, he said, that temperature is 84 degrees, and a single day of 104 degrees causes a 7 percent drop in yield.

Dr. Field said that extreme warming could reduce crop yields by more than 60 percent. “This new information is quite striking,” he said. “Major food crops and cotton show little sensitivity to rising temperatures until you reach a threshold. That’s why people are generally not aware of these sensitivities.”

Precisely — see Half of world’s population could face climate-driven food crisis in second half of the century.

But the piece quickly undoes that with the ending:

Representative Morgan Griffith of Virginia, a freshman Republican and an avowed skeptic on climate change, noted that ancient temperature records indicate periods of warming during the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations and again during the rise of the Vikings, and wanted the scientists to explain just how warm it got during those eras.

Mr. Griffith also wanted to know why the ice caps on Mars were melting and why he had been taught 40 years ago in middle school that Earth was entering a cooling period.

“What is the optimum temperature for man?” he asked. “Have we looked at that? These are questions that, believe it or not, I lay awake at night trying to figure out.”

The scientists promised to provide written answers.

So here is the NYT, the one-time paper of record, merely repeating a bunch of long-debunked global warming denier talking points.  Does the NYT know why that is a bunch of nonsense?  If so, why not say so.  If not, I’m more worried (see Science Times stunner: “”¦ a majority of the section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity”).

The Mars myth has been well debunked — see Skeptical Science.

For the record, since the end of the last Ice Age, the temperature has been relatively stable, though generally slowly cooling globally.  Here is a rough 6,000 year reconstruction that climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe put together from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) Paleoclimate archive for her new book, “A Climate for Change,” which you can see in a terrific presentation:

Hayhoe last 6000 years

Yes, were it not for human activity, we would indeed be entering a slow cooling period (see Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, “seminal” study finds).

The rate of human-driven warming in the last century has exceeded the rate of the underlying natural trend by more than a factor of 10, possibly much more. And warming this century on our current path of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions is projected to cause a rate of warming that is another factor of 5 or more greater than that of the last century.

Some 7 billion people have chosen where to live based on the relatively stable climate — precipitation, soil moisture, rivers, and sea levels — that we have had until now.  What we are headed to ain’t optimal (see M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F “” with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F and Science stunner: On our current emissions path, CO2 levels in 2100 will hit levels last seen when the Earth was 29°F (16°C) hotter).

Yes, scientists have “looked at” what happens if we stay on our path of unrestricted emissions.  It is likely multiple, unmitigated catastrophes (see A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice).

BUT the way the NYT leaves it, you are left with the distinct impression that scientists had no answer to his Gish Gallup:

The scientists promised to provide written answers.

In fact, Dr. Somerville tried to explain that it was a myth that the scientific community believe in the 1970s we were entering a long-term cooling (see here).  But Griffith cut him off and repeated the myth.

I will note that while the NYT says Griffith wondered “why he had been taught 40 years ago in middle school that Earth was entering a cooling period,” in fact Griffith said:

If we have known for 150 years  the effects of greenhouse gases then why 40 years ago, when I was in elementary and middle school were we taught that an increase in GHG effect was going to lead to a new ice age.

That is a complete fabrication.  He was never taught that an increase in greenhouse gases would lead to a new ice age.  He has mixed up the standard denier talking point.  Even the few people in the 1970s who seriously worried we were entering a new Ice Age did not believe that GHGs were causing it.

In an email from the NYT reporter, John Broder, posted on Grist, Broder writes, “ It ends with some faintly ridiculous remarks from another freshman Republican skeptic.”  Well, it’s only ridiculous if you already know that it’s ridiculous.  Anyone who doesn’t follow this subject closely might think it’s reasonable since there’s no one to tell them otherwise, particularly given the final sentence.

Dr. Arthur Smith writes me that:

What he’s written there is an almost completely disinformative, bias-enforcing narrative. A reader coming in thinking Republicans are idiots leaves the article feeling the same way. A reader coming in thinking Republicans are saints taking on a dastardly scientific conspiracy also leaves the article with no change in opinion. Which seems to be the purpose of his brand of journalism, apparently.

I agree with Dave Roberts that this is “unforgivable dreck.”  Let me end with a scientific study that Roberts quotes:

Passive news reporting that doesn’t attempt to resolve factual disputes in politics may have detrimental effects on readers, new research suggests.

The study found that people are more likely to doubt their own ability to determine the truth in politics after reading an article that simply lists competing claims without offering any idea of which side is right.

“There are consequences to journalism that just reports what each side says with no fact checking,” said Raymond Pingree, author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University.

“It makes readers feel like they can’t figure out what the truth is. And I would speculate that this attitude may lead people to tune out politics entirely, or to be more accepting of dishonesty by politicians.”

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34 Responses to Brulle: NY Times article on climate science hearing “fails to inform the public, and plays into the strategy of the climate denial effort.”

  1. Wow what an inaccurate headline. So when the next hearing has a guy saying “my science says the earth is flat” what will the NYT hed read?

  2. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    This is not a question of ‘journalistic balance’. This is straight Rightwing bias from a uniformly Rightwing MSM. Where else does the MSM strike ‘balance’? In reporting the insurrection in Libya? You must be joking! Gaddaffi is a ‘mad dog’, his opposition ‘freedom fighters’-the message in 100% of the MSM. In reporting on China? Please! In this country China is rapidly becoming Public Enemy #1, despite having done nothing to harm us, paying us sixty billion or so per year for our minerals and enriching our cultural life in recent decades. No-the pretense of ‘equivalence’ between the rational, truth-seeking, scientific consensus and the fossil fuel financed industry of lies, disinformation and vilification is pure ideological bigotry, as you would expect from an industry totally owned and controlled by capitalist money power.

  3. Peter M says:

    The NYT in time will eat a 500lb crow. That time is not far off.

  4. And why would you report some crazy comments someone says in any hearing without placing them in context? To do anything else is just note taking as Joe suggests.

  5. climate undergrad says:

    Only one side can claim science:

    National Academy of Science, National and Oceanic Administration, American Meteorological Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Research Council, Federal Climate Change Science Program, American Geophysical Union, Geological Society of America, American Chemical Society, American Association of State Climatologists, US Geological Survey, National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, American Institute of Physics, American Astronomical Society,

    Academies of science of; China, UK, France, Russia, Canada, Brazil, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Mexico, Sweden, Ireland, Malaysia

    Im thinking about posting that anywhere I can think of. How would that look on a tshirt? I will be trying to think of a witty lead in phrase, help welcome!

  6. talonpoint says:

    The media really is the biggest reason the climate situation is so poorly misunderstood. Campaigns to raise awareness could do worse than to really hold the feet to the fire of the outlets that are less in the thrall of right-wing money and ideology.

    I have written to NPR and my local NPR station to say that I will no longer give money until their climate coverage improves. I considered the same for PBS, but some shows like Nova are pretty good. However, I have written to the News Hour which bills itself as the rational broker of information but is clueless on the story of the century.

    We need a serious media campaign to promote climate coverage. Some recipients of the message should be: The Daily Show, Colbert, NPR (Especially Science Friday), PBS News Hour, 60 Minutes, Maddow. All of these shows try to pierce the veil of corporate disinformation in many ways, but it just doesn’t seem like they get the seriousness of the threat and the urgency to act now. We can also write about local effects of climate change to editors of local newspapers, local weeklies, local news stations.

    Why not lobby MTV for a show on climate change, with some telegenic teens traveling the world and seeing the effects first hand? Discovery Green is still promoting flourescent lightbulbs as the solution, why not try to convince them they are fading into irrelevance? How many young people know who Tim DeChristopher is? I don’t believe that it’s simply corporate profits in all this, most people in the media simply aren’t as smart about science as they should be and they believe what they’re too lazy to verify.

    In all cases, the media needs to know that they risk losing ears/eyeballs and the attention, especially of the youth, if they continue to present climate fictions on par with climate facts. This is one of those things that, if enough people did it, we really could have change quickly.

  7. Solar Jim says:

    Any full width, front page, color advertisement paid by Exxon Mobile for this issue of the paper, like during recent months?

    Lately it seems most people in positions of influence have money rolled up and stuffed in their ears (and paychecks). I’m sure that has no corrupting influence. Just business as usual on the USS Titanic.

    News Flash: Petroleum Found To Be Matter, Not “Energy”
    Researcher says “oxidize it and civilization submerges out of existence”

    What is the matter with energy, besides a few trillion dollars of cumulative fuel subsidies, anyway? The Mad Hatter asks if anyone has a new paradigm. Or is that down another mine-shaft rabbit hole, or under the ocean? The answer might be blowing in the wind or on some sunny roof. Anyone care for an LED?

  8. Reading the postings on today’s Climate Progress has been incredibly depressing. “Climate Progress” appears to be an oxymoron when viewed in the context of today’s news and the ability/willingness to insure the future well being of God’s Good Creation as entrusted to us greed based humans.

    I am always dismayed(but no longer surprised)that human beings will sell their souls to the highest bidder for a brief fleeting moment of fame in the spotlight. It is particularly disconcerting when scientists do this in testimony to Congress and through their efforts, which sow confusion, assist the powers of greed to continue the short-term profits at the expense of the children of this world now & into the future.

    The truth will ultimately be realized just as truth always does but at what cost for the delay in responding to the truth of this crisis when we have triggered ever escalating tripping points?

    So if we really know the aweful truth of the GW crisis and we can reasonably guesstimate where this is going to wind up in terms of cost to life on this earth then isn’t our quiet reasoned discussions on blog sites etc. bordering on criminal negligence? How dare we allow others to destroy life on this earth without a no holds barred fight to the finish because to the “finish” it will be regardless of our lack of enagaging the powers of greed.

    Please forgive my negative musings in response to the events of this day. Hope my grandkids will understand why we failed to act when we could.

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Time to be organizing?

    There’s a good article called ‘Abbott’s Tea Party on climate fears’ by David McKnight on The Drum (ABC). It discusses the possibility of mobilizing the population in Oz by linking all the various environmental groups and the unions.

    It is only a few weeks back that Spacemaser, or some name like that, suggested a similar thing in the USA on this site, coordinating all the various groups and designing an effective strategy. It is still a good idea.

    Opinion polls in the USA say that a majority still believe the science and care about CC. It is really up to the public now so why not get started? ME

  10. MarkB says:

    Hmmm…my take on this article isn’t quite as negative. It’s passive journalism, for sure, but that can be said about any reporting of an event. Here they weren’t deliberately seeking to “balance” views of scientists with views of skeptics, which the media often does. It wasn’t seeking out deniers to prop up a certain narrative or spin. The Congressional hearing already had that unrepresentative sample of expertise – Republicans recycling the same types of witnesses (Pielke, Christy) and throwing in a pro-DDT activist. The He-Said She-Said reporting wasn’t forced. It was a product of the event itself. So the root cause of the bad story isn’t the journalist but the lame event itselt – the banal political circus known as a Congressional hearing into science. While I agree that a journalist with some expertise who dug deeper and took the time to examine the claims being made is much better than the passive reporting of the NYTimes story, I wouldn’t say it’s “unforgivable”.

    [JR: You are arguing for journalism as stenography, which is the road to ruin, because it means that as long as one political party is dedicated to anti-science, the media can never report the scientific facts.]

  11. Ed Hummel says:

    MarkB #11, there is some truth to what you say. The problem is that with a story this dramatic, one would think that the NYT would have more on the ball than just resorting to “passive journalism” on such a life threatening topic. After all, they weren’t discussing the price of hog bellies in that Congressional hearing!!!! It’s criminal that the editorial staff and reporters of such a respected “paper of record” in this country such as the NYT would be either so ill-informed, or else would knowingly take part in the denialist agenda. Either way, they’re guilty.

  12. Mike Roddy says:

    This is no accident or oversight. The Sulzbergers sold their souls to the banks and Exxon Mobil a long time ago. Did anybody see John Tierney’s lead the other day, about how we should forget about energy efficiency? Broder is not much better. They would last two minutes on a real outlet such as this one.

    The Times is now clearly hopeless, and is trading on a long destroyed reputation that they try to salvaged in their throwaway editorials, which nobody reads. It’s time that a real newspaper of record is established, even if it’s only online, including a webcast. The need is there, and so is the money. Recommended staffers: Frank Rich (who had enough sense to finally quit NYT), Paul Krugman, who is clearly chafing there, along with Grist’s Dave Roberts, LA Times’ Margot Roosevelt (LAT has way surpassed NYT in the last 4 years), Rachel Maddow, and our own Joe Romm. There are other talented people around who will also ride to this long overdue bugle call.

    I’ll look for the money if others want to help. I can be reached at mike.greenframe@gmail.com, or you can comment here.

  13. Ben Lieberman says:

    The sad thing is that the few papers that provide any coverage at all of climate change seem to think that they are doing a good job.

  14. CW says:

    As is most often the case, I emphatically agree with the content of your post Joe. I wonder about the effectiveness of the phrasing of Brulle and others though. Meaning, and I’m sure you’ve said this elsewhere, putting italics on the word balance or calling it the “balance bias” or “norm” might or might not be the best way to convey what’s happening to those who don’t fully get it. Just imagine how this looks to those on the denier side or those who are not too well informed. If they hear people like us saying, “This practice of journalists to ‘balance’ their articles is wrong!”. Well, they might be inclined to think that, no, we are wrong because the word balance sounds fair and objective to them.

    Obviously the idea is that the practice of painting the picture as “they say, but the other side says” is actually a practice of imbalancing, or distorting the picture. If out there in the world there are 99% of climate scientists who support the principle scientific assertions of the IPCC, the NAS or other national academies of science on climate change and 1% who don’t, then painting the picture as 50-50 is a misrepresentation. And more so if, as you point out repeatedly elsewhere, the witnesses aren’t even scientists, but PR or propaganda professionals. In effect, they’re putting facts and lies on the same footing, and similarly honest actors and purposeful deceivers.

    All this to say that I’d prefer to see us call this practice active imbalancing, or inaccurate reporting, or misrepresentation or something closer to what it is. But let’s not just say “balance” or balance or “the journalistic norm of balance”. People who aren’t informed won’t sufficiently get the message behind the font change or the quotation marks or the otherwise intended meaning. And people who want to spread lies for the purpose of stalling or preventing action will say, “See? Those climate wackos don’t want reporters to be objective and balance their articles!”.

  15. George Ennis says:

    MarkB

    The danger with your acceptance of this type of journalism presumably as the quid pro quo of a functioning democracy , is what happens when suddenly the actual reality of climate change starts ‘biting”? How long do you think nascent democracies in the third world will survive under the onslaught of climate change related disasters? How long will democratic institutions survive in the “mature” democracies last under the pressing demands or needs to take draconian steps to solve the problem, if we squander precious time today in faux policy debates based on scientific falsehoods?.

    While the effects of this “he said, she said” type journalism may seem benign in the short term, I suspect that once the reality of climate change is allowed (for wont of political will to act today) to kick in you may find that in the long term to paraphrase T.S. Elliot: between the idea of journalistic freedom as you seem to expound and the reality falls the shadow.

  16. Merrelyn Emery says:

    #13. Mike Roddy, excellent idea, ME

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Merrelyn Emery #10, The Drum is a perfect example of Rightwing media bias. I am now censored more than 90% of the time there, obviously for content, as I am not abusive or slanderous. In contrast the climate change comments are infested with denialists who post over and over, even the stupidest and most dishonest comments. Clive Hamilton has a good Comment there today, where he lists the denialist stories in just one edition of Murdoch’s ‘The Fundament’ (aka The Australian), the fact that they repeatedly lie about his opinions, even after he has refuted them over and over again, and has a good go at the repulsive Clive James who thought himself so clever as to refute climate science in its entirety based on two lines of poetry written 100 years ago. I won’t bother trying to get through the censorship. The MSM is the way it is, corrupt, venal, mendacious, bigoted and infinitely hypocritical, because to be a totally craven servant of money power while posing as a servant of ‘Truth’ requires a certain low type of humanity, and the daily hypocrisy one must practise corrupts what is left of the soul.

  18. MarkB says:

    My point is that not every article done on any event needs to be in-depth investigative reporting. Broder’s done that before in some fairly good ways.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/science/earth/25epa.html?_r=1&ref=johnmbroder

    Conversely, he and Revkin have also teamed up to write mounds of trash, weasel phrases and innuendo interlaced with truth. It’s worth revisiting this article as an example of very sloppy and lazy journalism at best.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/science/earth/07climate.html?ref=johnmbroder

    But I’m not evaluating Broder’s article on past history. It’s fairly straight reporting of what went down. The event itself was He Said / She Said. Unlike the above, the article has no pretentions about being a piece of investigative reporting.

  19. GFW says:

    Stephen Leahy @1

    The answer to your question is well known :-)
    “Opinions on Shape of Earth Differ”
    http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2005-3_archives/000313.html

  20. Jeffrey Davis says:

    The Retail industry knows the term to use: shelf space. The NY Times and Washington Post give shelf space to pernicious idiots.

  21. 350 Now says:

    Dr Romm is quoted in the NY Times article below and recognized as “one of the country’s most influential writers on climate change” and the online version has a link to CP… (which at 9 a.m. curiously loads the headline of the Brulle article.)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/science/earth/11climate.html?_r=2&smid=tw-nytimespolitics&seid=auto

  22. boulderwind says:

    Joe, will you be debunking Pielke’s latest. published in the NYT?
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/opinion/11pielke.html

    [JR: Why would I do that?]

  23. Roddy Campbell says:

    Well, I read the article, and it reads like straightforward news reporting to me – in what way does it misrepresent the House hearing? Did something material happen there that he didn’t report? Did things he reported not happen?

    I don’t understand. It’s a news piece, right? Not an opinion piece?

  24. Lewis C says:

    Roddy –

    the NYT article fails to evaluate the comparative veracity of the deniers’ claims and the scientists’ observations.

    On an issue as critical as national culpability for unprecedented genocide (predictably by generating serial famines) this failure is not poor journalism, it is an utter disgrace.

    Regards,

    Lewis

  25. TV-Met says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to say it’s a ‘complete fabrication’ that someone else was or was not taught something in elementary school.

    I myself was taught this very thing in elementary school growing up in Massachusetts, we even did a project on ‘how life would go on’ in the coming ice age.

    It later became obvious to me that an ice age is not in our future on any reasonable time scale (especially compared to the effects of warming)…but back then, students only learned what they were taught. Now we have the internet, and the ability for independent study is nearly limitless (even for an elementary schooler).

    But my point remains… I don’t think we can label Griffith’s statement as a ‘complete fabrication’.

  26. MikeB says:

    Not to highjack this thread, but recently there was an interesting story on the Diane Rehm Show (WAMU 88.5 in DC) regarding vaccines and autism. One person called in and complained that both sides were not being given a chance, specifically someone that would agree with the proven wrong conclusion of Dr. Wakefield. The responses from the host and the folks on the panel were all the same:

    REHM (host):And you talked about having a two-sided conversation, Nelson. That’s precisely what I did not wish to have since Dr. Wakefield’s study has been so severely discredited. Seth.

    MNOOKIN: Diane, I think that’s such a good point and I think that that sort of instinct to have “both sides” really does damage, not just in this debate. A parallel that I draw is the Birther Movement. The fact that some people believe that President Obama was not born in the United States doesn’t make that a valid debate. But again and again, you saw news organizations presenting it as, well, let’s have this person who believes that he was and points to his birth certificate and all of the factual evidence and this person who just feels like he wasn’t. And I think that’s horribly irresponsible of the press.

    DEBIASI: And I think another point is, in the case of the Wakefield theory, there has been a debate. And that’s come in the form of 24 studies from five countries that have all shown the same thing, so the debate has occurred. So I’m a little baffled why people think his theory has been ignored. It’s been actually looked at very closely.

    For anyone interested in this topic, here is a link to the transcript:
    http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2011-02-02/vaccines-and-autism-story-medicine-science-and-fear/transcript

    It really takes at least one person in the media to stand up and say: NO! There are not two sides to this story! We had the debate, we looked at the data and we know the answer. Towards the end of the testimony the other day, several members including Waxman asked to have the voting on the amendment postponed based on the information provided but the chairman said no since they had already had a number of meetings on this topic. But, if people don’t want to listen it doesn’t matter.

    As a citizen in Virginia, I am working on a letter to Griffith to explain the problems he has. My final suggestion: go to Virginia Tech and University of Virigina and talk to professors there, in person. Tell them your concerns, ask questions, LISTEN to their answers, review the information then make a conclusion. And please, don’t base it on what you don’t properly recall from 40 years ago.

    Heck, I know folks that are well educated (but not scientists) that don’t believe plate tectonics since it wasn’t taught when they were in school. Leave out the fact that the theory was still being formalized at the time and all other research to this points has only supported the theory…

  27. kermit says:

    Simply repeating what people in power say is no more journalism than sitting behind a desk is behaving like an executive.

    Mulga is right; MSM doesn’t act like this on most other issues.

    This is vile. Don’t these science “journalists” care about their own children or grandchildren?

  28. Roddy Campbell says:

    Lewis (25) and Kermit (27) – in the UK, if you’re reporting what happened in Parliament in a particular debate, your responsibility is to concisely and accurately report what happened, who said what, where they were coming from (relevant background), and what the purpose, result, and impact of the result of the debate/hearing/committee was.

    It seems to me he did all that fairly well.

    The subject matter could be Afghanistan, health care, or EPA powers.

  29. Chad says:

    So last night, I was having a dicussion with my Six Sigma instructor about climate change. He cited the “there’s been global cooling for the last X years” myth. Yes, a guy who teaches statistics and about blows a gasket every time he so much as smells an outlier draws his conclusion from what? Extrapolating from an outlier…and not even doing a good job of that. Sigh.

  30. Leif says:

    Could we just lock these anti-Science Senators into a room with an 8th grade science test and if they do not pass be done with them. No cheating allowed.

  31. Chris Winter says:

    From the NYT article:

    The Republicans countered with two scientific witnesses who said that while there was strong evidence of a rise in global surface temperatures, the reasons were murky and any response could have adverse unintended effects. Another scientist said that the E.P.A.’s decision to ban the pesticide DDT 40 years ago had led to a huge increase in death and disease in the developing world.

    Is it not interesting that these scientists are not named? Those scientists who are proponents of anthropogenic global warming are named, and often quoted.

  32. Merrelyn Emery says:

    #18. Mulga, I agree with your sentiments and find most of the comments on The Drum extremely disturbing. That does not mean, however, that everything that gets written there is rubbish. McKnight makes the excellent point that it is time for a new strategy, i.e. to mobilize the people, if only to bypass the ridiculous political ‘debate’ and show that the Mad Monk is simply that, ME

  33. Windsong says:

    Climate Undergrad, #4— I’d buy it and I’m poor! Love it!!!!