We all know the BBC has decided that the ‘science is settled’ with regard to climate change being man made…..strangely however the BBC constantly tells us that science is a ‘process’ (a line no doubt picked up from Dr Joe Smith) and that science is all about doubt and questioning results.
The BBC for some reason does not think that applies to climate change despite there being no ‘proof’ of a significant CO2 link.
The BBC is also pretty adamant that ‘climate sceptics’ are a bunch of unqualified bloggers or lunatics with no climate science credentials to back up their claims.
The BBC is however prepared to listen to Stern, an economist, or Ed Miliband, a graduate in politics, economics and philosophy…or Al Gore or George Monbiot, a zoology graduate turned journalist, or Paul Nurse, a geneticist, or indeed the late Richard Black and the still present Roger Harrabin…journalists, very definitely not climate scientists….not scientists at all.
Not being scientists means you are not a scientist….and a geneticist is just as ‘unqualified’ to speak about climate change as a shelf stacker at Tescos…or as ‘qualified’ if you like…..it does not mean you cannot read and understand what climate scientists report…and come to your own valid conclusions based upon that information….as every politician in government has to.
The BBC seems to have once again admitted the value of public scrutiny of ‘science’ and the fact of uncertainty in that science….in this Today programme…… (8:41) in which Tom Feilden talks to David Spiegelhalter about people’s perceptions of science…..just a shame that they seem to be struck by the old Orwellian ‘Double Think’…the ability to honestly believe something and yet deny it at the same time…..here telling us of the uncertainty of science and the need for openness by scientists and public scrutiny of their work…but refusing to allow that in the case of climate change…..
TF: We have misconceptions about science…we always think that science can give us the right answers all the time and of course almost by definition science is the other way round…that scientists work in areas where ambiguity and uncertainty is rife…..However many resources we put into it there is always uncertainty attached to it.
If the answer is for scientists to be more open about the gaps in their knowledge and for the media to resist the temptation to push for greater certainty then the message whether it’s about earthquakes or climate change is going to get harder to interpret.…but perhaps the days when men in white coats could offer smug reassurance and be believed have long one…
DS: ….and that is no bad thing.….That paternalistic view is no longer an adequate response.….
TF: But it is going to be messier…if society is going to have to shoulder more of the responsibility for interpreting the information coming from science.
DS: Yes.…it is messier…but I think it is more honest and the way that science has to go.
Spiegelhalter seems a safe bet for the BBC (much like Steve Jones examining ‘impartiality’) having been a presenter on a previous programme and a Fox News sceptic…
‘Tails you win: the science of chance’ aired on BBC4 at 9pm on October 18th. The video trailer is up on Youtube
David Spiegelhalter [email protected]
Staggering fiddled graphics by Fox News http://bit.ly/Tah3IV – wonderful teaching material
Amusing end to the programme with Evan Davis revealing his New Year’s resolution….‘To allow a bit more nuance and some balance..at least for three weeks.’