14 December 2009

News: "The Economist " behind climate data fudging

Tell me what's wrong with my header? Yeah, yeah, I know its unimaginative, badly parsed and amateurish, but it fits, and I can write it without making up a story to fit it. That's the point.

Is any one other than me absolutely gobsmacked that The Economist has taken upon itself the duty of publishing an article purporting to rebut the science in Willis Eschenbach's recent piece on instrumental temperature data adjustment at a Darwin weather station? The anonymous person who wrote the Economist article even admits they are unqualified to form any definitive view, but don't think that stops them from espousing a definitive view.

And for goodness sake, what kind of flagrant hypocrisy is it for a journalist to write a first person attack, in a supposedly august journal like The Economist, questioning the integrity and competence of another commentator in a live debate, without the author even giving the readers the benefit of the author's own name? Sheeze one of the issues being addressed is the integrity of the peer review process! The Economist needs to take a good hard look at itself. How can they not see that they will continue to lose credibility and readers very quickly, if they persist in publicly flaunting such hypocritical cant, when purporting to report on a vital issue the world is thirsty for reliable coverage of.

It's of a kind with the Associated Press writing a piece today on the findings of an investigation into the Climategate emails, which was published around the world, effectively saying that although the Climategate emails might make the scientists look petty, we can, rest assured, know that there was no fraud here. Move along. Nothing to see.

Thanks for that AP. So who did the investigation? Oh, it was by the AP itself. Well that's reassuring, not. It's not like they have an interest in one side or the other in this debate do they? Well, setting aside the AP's own partisan reporting history in this debate (no small issue), it even transpires that one of the guys who did AP's Climategate "investigation" and who co-authored its piece, is also the author of one of the Climategate emails himself. An email that, it turns out, started a thread of online dialogue within the CRU about trying to minimize the effects of an article to be published in a peer reviewed journal by another scientist the CRU didn't like. How's this for a case of conducting an investigation into yourself and giving yourself an all clear? So even if AP has decided there was no fraud at the CRU, what about at AP?

Aren't these news journals supposed to report the news, not make it? Where have the adults gone at these international news selling entities? Why hasn't an editor or a publisher told these reporters that it's not good for the paper's brand to be seen by its readers openly declaring partiality to a cause in reporting on an unfolding debate.

Don't they get that the we can see the stark hypocrisy and lack of integrity in such behaviour, and will think the less of the them for it? And yet they seem to flaunt it.

Do they really believe that openly supporting the political agenda of reducing world carbon emissions, is more important than supporting their vocation's responsibility to inform readers what's going on in a debate over carbon's effects on climate? And even if they do, are these journals so lacking in respect for their readers that they think they will be cut slack, when they are so publicly unprofessional?

The press has become the story itself. They have misused the trust we naturally give them to inform us, from habit and affection. I'm told the 100 year old plus Editor and Publisher magazine in the US has just been closed. No prizes for guessing where its editorial skew went in its dying years: supporting causes in the news. It even ran an article in August 2007 entitled: Climate Change: Get Over Objectivity, Newspapers .

AP and The Economist certainly took that advice to heart. But when their own industry journal goes under after deciding to become part of the news, instead of reporting on it, you'd reckon the people in the industry would get the hint. It ain't rocket surgery, but then journalists aren't paleo-aerospaciologists either.

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