Deltoid reports on a complaint to the UK’s media watchdog commission about the unfairness of the infamous Great Global Warming Swindle swindle. The outcome appears to have been somewhat marginal; if I understand correctly the commission agreed that the program was egregiously misleading, but somehow not in violation of the letter of the law.
Actually Ofcom said that to be in breach, not only did Swindle have to materially mislead, this misleading had to cause “harm or offence”. Ofcom decided that it wasn’t harmful if viewers came to believe untrue things about the science, so it sidestepped the question of whether Swindle was misleading.
Charming. Anyway, the text of the complaint is perhaps the most thorough document we have of the methods of this particular effort to mislead the public on matters of science, and is most revelatory about the techniques used elsewhere in the misbegotten sleight-of-mind industry.
Tim Lambert has crossed my mind several times this week, and it’s time I doffed my cap to him for some extremely valuable work he has done over the years on his blog. People interested in environmental science and environmental policy really ought to follow his efforts.
And congratulations also to William, who appears to have had a hand in setting the ball in motion, and who has an insightful summary of the outcome. Links in the comments there are also useful.
McIntyre is portraying this as complete vindication [Update: “vindication” is disputed by McIntyre: see below; however, unabashed admirers of McIntyre also read McIntyre’s description as vindication] of the propagandists.
My attribution of “vindication” was factually incorrect, and I apologize for it.
I remain very unhappy with the way McIntyre is handling this business, but I did not phrase my complaint, which expressed my honest opinion after a quick reading, with acceptable precision. I’ll be more careful in future.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled Update.]
Presuming he is serious, and not simply as malign as Durkin, this [McIntyre’s apparent satisfaction with a result he sees as a “stuffing” of the plaintiffs] is a very grave error and a real shame, I think. I can understand a nonscientific body being shy about judging what is or isn’t a reasonable representation of science, but nobody with any grasp of the issues should condone this level of spin, in any direction.
This sort of provocation cannot serve to improve communication between scientists and serious skeptics.
Update: Under my challenge Steve McIntyre recast what read to me as a celebratory bleat as helpful advice to scientists undertaking a legal challenge that I oddly misread. See if you are convinced (comments 69 and 71). Then go read the latest on Deltoid for some context. Tim seems to share my impression that McIntyre’s report reads as something other than sage advice to future petitioners.
I repeated the statement that he had not been “vindicated” twice in the comments here here, including once in reponse to Michael Tobis.
Notwithstanding these clear and repeated statements that Durkin had not been “vindicated” by Ofcom (which is a quite different thing than thecomplainants being stuffed), Tobis told his readers at his blog that he had siad the exact opposite – that I claimed that Durkin had been vindicated. Tobis: in a post about “How the Public is Deliberately Misled”, then misleads his reading public by attributing to me a statement where I had said the opposite three times.
McIntyre is portraying this as complete vindication of the propagandists.
Maybe he was trying to see if his readers could pass a skill-testing question on being misled. If Tobis wants to talk to his readers about “deliberate misleading”, maybe he could start by withdrawing his untrue and misleading characterization of my post.
I concede that McIntyre has adopted a conciliatory tone in his response to me and explicitly disavowed vindication in that reply, as well as perhaps elsewhere.
McIntyre here is just gleefully stirring the pot. At least Romm knows he is being puerile. (Not that this didn’t lose Romm quite a few points with me; one should keep one’s class resentments in one’s own country and not try to import others’. Such things lose a great deal in the translation.)
I really do try to see the point of what the skeptics are saying, and it is on occasion more interesting and thought-provoking than you might expect (though, of note, a couple of silly lit-crit types apparently haunt CA trying to go all deconstructionist out of left field at the slightest opportunity!) It wouldn’t take a great shift on their part to make the conversation much more productive than it is, and I’m willing to do some compromising of my own to that end.
Alas, though, McIntyre’s protestations, though arguably valid in the letter, frankly seem contrived to me in spirit. Worse, they seem contrived to reassure McIntyre’s audience, largely populated by politics-first no-such-thing-as-AGWists, and to offend those of us in the mainstream.