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View Diary: BBC Will No Longer Give Climate Change Deniers A Platform (177 comments)

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  •  "Non-contentious issues?" (10+ / 0-)
    the corporation’s science coverage which was criticised in 2012 for giving too much air-time to critics who oppose non-contentious issues.
    Well, now, anthropogenic climate change is hardly a "non-contentious issue." If it was, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Put more accurately, it is a highly contentious issue whose detractors ignore or distort (or both) the science for the sake of their own personal agendas.

    So the BBC, and Tyson, are both partly right and partly wrong. Climate denialism, creationism, anti-vaccinism, and all the rest are completely non-scientific belief systems (indeed, anti-scientific belief systems), and so they certainly shouldn't be given 'equal time,' alongside real science, in scientific media coverage or in science teaching. And yet the controversies they reflect most certainly do exist, and have huge impacts on our moral, political, and personal lives, so please let's not just dismiss them out of hand and not talk about them as though they don't exist. They should be acknowledged, and both their foundations and their logical consequences should be discussed critically (in the sense of 'analytically', not in the sense of 'disparagingly')...but only as politics and lifestyle issues, not as science. Within science education and science media their only legitimate relevance regards their important characteristic of being 'pseudo-science'....a very important topic indeed. But yes, by all means let us please stop presenting them as viable alternative scientific positions, which they are not.

    No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

    by DocDawg on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 06:44:10 AM PDT

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    •  Unfortunately, if it happened here. . . (4+ / 0-)

      Our denialists would enlist it as further proof it is a hoax that needs to use smoke and mirrors to explain.

      I respect the principle and the underlying reasons - perhaps it will work in the UK.

      It may be the right thing to do, but it would have the opposite desired effect here. We have a huge portion of our society that is already deeply into CT.

      Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick: The "party of Jesus" wouldn't invite him to their convention - fearing his "platform."

      by 4CasandChlo on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 07:49:24 AM PDT

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    •  They were talking about science programs. (11+ / 0-)

      If it is a political program, it's important to discuss contentious issues, respectfully if possibly, but not on science shows. Climate change requires us to stop subsidizing the highly profitable fossil fuel industries, and that's a political choice.

      For every occasion there is a song, and for every song, an occasion.

      by mww01833 on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 08:10:30 AM PDT

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      •  I know, when they discuss xtianity... (12+ / 0-)

        Let's insist they include pagans of all sorts to talk about how xtianity is a fraud.

        When they talk about the glories of capitalism, let's insist they include Marxists to give the counter point of view.

        When they talk about how great America is, let's insist they include people who despise America to tell the "truth."

        The point is that the right has its "truths" that must not EVER be questioned, much less any counter argument offered to the public. And yet they feel they have a "right" to offer their own lies and gobbledy-gook to obfuscate the facts and pretend that there is controversy when there is none, on climate change, evolution, etc.

        And, oh, what a surprise, the lords and masters of the right all make gobs of money from the "controversy."

        •  because it's not about facts, it's about POWER. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KenBee

          "Facts", whether actual facts or made-up bullshit, are merely bullets in the war.

          And the right has also figured out that if they dangle some logic-bait, it attracts all of us progressives, liberals, and lefties, to run for the bait and spend endless amounts of time gnawing at it, while the right is off and running on its next power-grab.

          The answer to climate denialism should be to reply "You're either stupid or you're a liar, which is it?" and then waste no further time on arguing with them, and instead put the effort into getting them thrown the flying f--- out of office at the next election.

          Power.

          Power.

          Power.

          Don't forget that.

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 04:59:55 PM PDT

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          •  Fools or liars or both? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, reasonshouldrule

            The perpetual question that must be raised about all conservative ideas.

            •  i wouldn't even go that far. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Gwennedd

              The analysis that's most relevant is "who gains power and who loses power?" and then make that the center point of political organizing:

              "Hey so-and-so:  That guy over there wants to take power from you and give it to his crony!  Fight back!"

              Money, power, same thing:  "That guy over there wants to take money from you and give it to his crony!"

              Then when "that guy" tries to weasel-word, our comeback is "those are weasel-words for the sake of taking away your power and money."   No need to argue whether any of those weasel-words are or aren't true or logical in any sense.  

              Argue pure consequentialism: "taking away your money and power."   That cuts through everything else and gets to the core issue.

              And people are bloody well willing to fight ferociously when it comes to protecting what's theirs.

              This is the lesson our adversaries have learned long ago and put to good use.  We need to catch up on that front.  And when we do, the results are going to speak for themselves.

              We got the future back. Uh-oh.

              by G2geek on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 07:17:46 PM PDT

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    •  The agree with your sentiment, but in the (8+ / 0-)

      current hyper-partisan environment we need to be very clear WHY unqualified individuals will not be allowed on air to "challenge" a scientific consensus. To accomplish that would probably require every major news outlet to give its audience a tutorial in how science is conducted - the ferocity of debates within the scientific community on issues that are scientifically contentious, and the mechanisms in place to reward new thinking, and punish the crooks.

      This is a culture most Americans know nothing about - their assumption, learned from politics, is that its all about the money, the megaphone and the tribe. Since knowledge is power, unscrupulous politicians know how to manipulate the media environment, and aggressively recast scientists as political actors, subject to the same tribal agendas as everyone else. They brazenly seek to cow scientists like Micheal Mann with legal actions or absurd FOI requests - with no political consequence at all.

      I applaud the BBC finally coming to its senses on this, but I fear that unless they undertake to educate their audience about how scientists handle genuine contention, their actions will be easily cast as censorship in favor of a political agenda.

      •  Science is exciting (5+ / 0-)

        The fight to even get the tools to do science, the sometimes lonely road to discovery, documenting and publishing, defending your work, testing your ideas against the world community. Above all the discipline of evidence and results adding to what we call the truth. There's all kinds of passion and exciting stories that can be concentrated from the daily drudgery. The media could do a lot more to communicate what the scientific method is inside of popular stories.

        If How to Train Your Dragon can do it, the BBC sure can!

      •  As a scientist myself, I agree with you. (10+ / 0-)

        I love the fact that popular science shows, like Tyson's Cosmos, exist, and infuse enthusiasm for science into new generations. But I am routinely disappointed  by how they inevitably fail to teach how science happens, and what it is, mechanistically speaking. A short cartoon interlude of a medieval astronomer spending long lonely nights in his tower window, culminating in being burned at the stake, isn't very edifying in this regard. Of course, the real thing doesn't make for very good teevee. In the day-to-day grind, for 99.9% of scientists, science is a typically tedious affair, but how it's done is important for people to understand, because only then can they understand why it works so dang well, and how deeply embedded in the scientific process are the error detection and correction mechanisms that insure that the sometimes inevitable nonsense, puffery and chicanery (which every human discipline has its share of) doesn't last long.

        As a scientist, I always have to laugh at the conspiracy-theorist's notion that 97% of scientists are conspiring to (whatever). As if. Getting two scientists to just agree on what appetizer to order is dang near impossible. A conspiracy of thousands is about as laughable a notion as could be imagined. But because most people don't know any scientists or anything about what they do and how they do it, they don't realize this.

        No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

        by DocDawg on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 11:18:50 AM PDT

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        •  I see this all the time on RealClimate.org, (4+ / 0-)

          A blog written by Gavin Schmidt that includes the latest research on climate. Yikes, can those scientists squabble!

          It is a really good site though. It has a tag on the upper left that says "start here" that explains how science works, how it is peer reviewed, and has a very detailed explanation on climate change.

          Worth a look:

          http://www.RealClimate.org

          A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

          by Gwennedd on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 12:51:37 PM PDT

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        •  You must not have watched the new Cosmos (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          very carefully. Did you not see the episode with the information about Galileo (real, not apocryphal this time), the lead controversy (I'm a geologist and appalled I didn't know the story of Clair Patterson --- a story fortunately many people should know.)

        •  what i think is needed, is a big-picture... (4+ / 0-)

          ... explanation of the paradigm behind scientific method.

          Observe, hypothesize, test, publish, refine.

          Nature is lawful, nature is observable, and hypotheses are testable statements.

          Controlled experiment.  Alter one variable at a time.

          Falsification.  This one is difficult for most people to get, because it involves thinking in negatives, something the human brain has not evolved to do very effectively.

          This stuff could be illustrated by animations and graphics, with a few complete examples from start to finish.  At least one of those examples should be basic cog sci perception stuff that people can go out and check for themselves, for example something to do with optics and vision.

          The key here is to get people accustomed to thinking this way and applying it in their daily lives.  

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 05:13:44 PM PDT

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          •  "Alter one variable at a time" (6+ / 0-)

            God love ya; I spent half a lifetime trying to pound this into grad students' and post-docs' heads...often with limited success. Easy to say, but (for most people) remarkably hard to actually do. It turns out the world is full of 'hidden' uncontrolled variables, which many folks just don't seem to have an eye for. I finally came to the conclusion that first-rate experimentalists are born, not made.

            The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves

            by DocDawg on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 09:29:07 PM PDT

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          •  I love this idea (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Gwennedd

            Catchy, innocuous/insidious (b/c informative) and perhaps most importantly, entertaining PSAs: a series along the lines of Schoolhouse Rock might do the trick!

            It'd be an uphill battle, though. :sigh:

        •  Cosmos included a good deal of the tedium (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kfunk937

          you request, such as cataloging the spectra of hundreds of thousands of stars (produced entirely by a group of women, Pickering's" Harvard Computers"), then deriving the temperatures of stars from that data, then working out stellar evolution from that. Scientists then applied large amounts of atomic mass and radioactive decay data to work out fusion chains and thus the sources of energy for each phase of a star's life.

          Or the decades during which Clair Patterson sought out every form of lead contamination in his laboratories in order to measure the age of the Earth, followed by further decades running down all the sources of lead in the environment, from deep oceans to Antarctic ice, in order to show that leaded gasoline was poisoning us and get tetraethyl lead banned, against corporate-funded denialism exactly like that for tobacco causing cancer and CO2 causing Global Warming.

          Or the years of collecting followed by decades of analysis behind Charles Darwin's theories of Natural Selection and Sexual Selection.

          Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

          by Mokurai on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 10:02:57 PM PDT

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          •  Darwin had it easy. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Gwennedd

            Years of collecting birds is not tedium...at least not compared to years of carefully transferring very small volumes of water from one container to another while gowned and gloved at a lab bench under fluorescent lights (which is what most biological research today usually amounts to).

            Tip of the hat to my field biology friends...I know, I know, field work isn't nearly as romantic as it seems from the outside. But it still beats all to hell a lifetime spent moving water back and forth, 50 microliters at a time.

            The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves

            by DocDawg on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 05:36:28 AM PDT

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