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Deltoid vs The Thunderer

March 13th, 2010

My recent scuffle with the Oz, is one of a long line in which a paper which was once (long ago, and only for a few years, but still) Australia’s best has had it out with bloggers, mostly coming off second-best. After being shredded in its fight with the psephbloggers in 2007, and having long since abandoned any claims to credibility, the Oz is not much of a scalp to hang on your belt these days.

A much more interesting match-up is between Tim Lambert’s Deltoid and the Times of London, as represented by their laughably mis-titled ‘Science’ reporter Jonathan Leake. With more than 200 years as the world’s best known newspaper of record, the Times ought to be a shoo-in. But Murdoch ownership erodes credibility at a startling rate, and Lambert has Leake dead to rights. I’m betting on a TKO for Deltoid.

Starting with Leakegate (Leake’s role in pushing the anti-science lies associated with ClimateAuditGate), Lambert has pointed out all manner of journalistic malfeasance on Leake’s part. The Times wisely stuck to dignified disregard for a while, but, like the Oz, they couldn’t keep it up. Leake had a fellow reporter call Lambert and claim to be doing a general story on science blogging. She didn’t manage to get much but ran a hatchet job anyway. Now, as Lambert is reporting, Leake is getting banned from all sorts of places for such malfeasance as breaking embargoes. You can read the whole story here.

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  1. March 13th, 2010 at 19:28 | #1

    ABC online has had a serious decline in the quality of its climate reporting lately – may also be a candidate for a showdown at some stage.

  2. PeterS
    March 13th, 2010 at 20:00 | #2

    Quoting Kanazawa: “In fact, we’re not playing catch up; we’re stuck. For any evolutionary change to take place, the environment has to remain more or less constant for many generations, so that evolution can select the traits that are adaptive and eliminate those that are not. When the environment undergoes rapid change within the space of a generation or two, as it has been for the last couple of millennia, if not more, then evolution can’t happen because nature can’t determine which traits to select and which to eliminate. So they remain at a standstill. Our brain (and the rest of our body) are essentially frozen in time — stuck in the Stone Age.”

    What a load of rubbish! Evolution is always happening, especially when the environment is changing rapidly.

    At the very least, characteristics that cope best for rapid change will be selected for.
    I don’t quite know where that takes us with Leakgate, but I have little sympathy with Kanazawa.

  3. PeterS
    March 13th, 2010 at 20:03 | #3

    P.S. If he thinks things have been changing rapidly for the last two millennia, he will be astounded by the coming couple of centuries. :(

  4. Zarquon
    March 13th, 2010 at 20:05 | #4
  5. Donald Oats
    March 13th, 2010 at 20:37 | #5

    Yeah I’ve noticed a drop-off in news in general at ABC online – they miss things that once would have been reported. If it wasn’t for the likes of Tim Lambert, Eli Rabett, Tamino and RealClimate (all reachable via google) running blogs, I certainly would have been caught out by some of the more agenda-driven news articles. Pity that the ABC online and ABC in general are slowly unwinding from conscientiously researched and reported science and are using the automated third-party news article providers (or at least it looks like it).

    And where is the news story about the 2010 Global Atheism Convention in Melbourne this weekend? Must have missed it.

  6. Freelander
    March 13th, 2010 at 20:49 | #6

    The ABC really declined during the Howard years. Even media watch has lost its bite and is no longer worth watching. SBS also seems to have problems as they find it necessary to always invite the usual culprits from the usual think tanks, who inevitably say the same banal libertarian things.

    Re: Atheism, given the outrageous subsidization of religion with our tax money that the government refused to give this conference a bean is a disgrace. As part of the budget papers, the tax money given to religions through tax expenditures (and otherwise) should be itemised, better yet, these expenditures should be stopped and religions ought to be taxed like any other commercial enterprises.

  7. March 13th, 2010 at 20:50 | #7

    After having felt for a while that lone voices wailing in the wilderness about the damage Murdoch does to democracy and society perhaps amount to nothing, recent times are quite cheering.

    Part of Murdoch’s power is his ability to create a general feeling in any ‘market’ he controls. And the biggest part of that is to push the idea that if you disagree with the general view he pushes then you are alone and in a miniscule minority. The fact seems to be that people are not as brainlessly adoptive of his talking points as the hordes of trolls and flying monkeys on the interblogs may like you to think.

    As the Professor notes, Deltoid has continually kicked goals (‘The Australian’s War On Science’ is up to episode 47), “stopmurdoch” is getting more traffic, Pilger had a good piece the other day about “Murdochracy”, conservative ex PM Fraser made a point of highlighting the corrosive effect of Murdoch on our country at the press club last week (didn’t see those comments reported anywhere by our gutless ‘media corps’), “Fox” is a laughingstock and Rupert’s operations have been hammered for hundreds of millions in damages in US courts recently for dishonest dealings (lovers of the ‘free market’ take note – your model doesn’t work when it is run and controlled by cheats).

    Yes, the ABC (known on our site as ‘radio rupert’) has become something of the embarrasing cousin at the family BBQ who has just found Amway, but they are not beyond redemption. An example for Queenslanders was last nights ‘news’ about the two (2!) electric cars which arrived on the docks in Brisbane for… testing or something. Yay! Part of “the Climate Group’s” EV20 gig. The Climate Group lists News Limited and BSkyB as sponsors. The spin is not only boring but the fact that Radio Rupert doesn’t even bother mentioning it is insulting.

    A very good point made the other day on comments somewhere was along the lines of: “You know this guy actually owns the Dow Jones Index?” It might be funny if he hadn’t also gutted the WSJ of integrity.

    Murdoch can be stopped. It won’t be done by Rudd, Abbott, Obama or any other politician beholden to him unless they feel that the general populace demand it.

    Murdoch disproves that the only certainty in life is death and taxes, unless you are Rupert Murdoch!

  8. sdfc
    March 13th, 2010 at 20:55 | #8

    Does the Athiest church give support to the needy on anywhere near the scale that the Christian churches do?

  9. Freelander
    March 13th, 2010 at 21:00 | #9

    Athiest church is an oxymoron. If people want to give money to religions fine, but only fine if they give their money not mine.

  10. sdfc
    March 13th, 2010 at 21:10 | #10

    Now your just starting to sound like one of those libertarians who just whinge about tax. The church provides goods and services to all sorts of people in need of some for of assistance out of their income and you are proposing that this income is taxed. Good one/

    Athiesm is a religion, the congregation are constantly telling everyone that their religion is the one true faith.

  11. sdfc
    March 13th, 2010 at 21:15 | #11

    @Freelander

    You know someone is struggling when they come up with that sort of rubbish. Pathetic.

  12. sdfc
    March 13th, 2010 at 21:17 | #12

    Sorry Freelander that was only supposed to be one piece of abuse. I thought the first effort had been lost.

  13. sdfc
    March 13th, 2010 at 21:45 | #13

    @Freelander

    Good acts are a major focus of the religion, but if you do think ulterior motives (whatever that’s supposed to mean) are the driver then I say the more the better.

  14. Michael
    March 13th, 2010 at 22:13 | #14

    Tim Lambert has done execellent work, but where are the real investigative journalists on this topic? I won’t be shedding any tears when the newspaper industry dies but I do wonder how people will get paid to pursue the dogged work of tracking down what really went on once the sensationalist media storms are over.

  15. Michael
    March 13th, 2010 at 22:22 | #15

    @sdfc
    Is your assertion statistically significant?

  16. Freelander
    March 13th, 2010 at 22:40 | #16

    There are a myriad of silly supernatural beliefs. Someone who believes in a religion holds one of these silly beliefs and rejects the rest. They share their rejection of the others with Atheists. The only difference between them and the atheist is that the atheist doesn’t have any of these silly supernatural beliefs entailed by any religion. (Some atheists of course have other silly beliefs, but not those ones.)

    Atheism is no more a religion than good health is a disease. I don’t object to people believing silly things, in fact I am always amused by the beliefs of the religious, but I do object to them acting on those silly beliefs to my detriment. I think that is why atheists have become more vocal. We are simply sick of the harm the crazies continue to do, not to themselves, but to others and especially to the healthy. We live in constant danger that the religious among us will turn society back to the dark ages.

  17. Fran Barlow
    March 13th, 2010 at 22:52 | #17

    @Freelander

    Indeed. Atheism a religion? In just the way that darkness is a form of light or a vacuum a kind of atmosphere.

    Atheism has no rites and no liturgy. There are no requirements and no guides to what is ethical conduct. Each non-believer has to decide what to think instead. It is not even properly a belief system. Some religion!

    It is telling that in nthis matter as in so many others, the reactionaries, unable to escape the mandates of their own episteme, project their own culture onto us.

  18. Donald Oats
    March 14th, 2010 at 00:02 | #18

    For me personally, atheism is the lack of belief in any god(s) or other supernatural things. That’s it in a nutshell. Being an atheist means that we believe that there is no god or non-corporeal ghost.
    If I one day stumbled across something that provided strong evidence of the existence of a god or gods, and if the mysterious thing could be physically measured in some way, I would certainly give it a critical examination; if it passed muster, then and only then I would be reassessing my lack of belief. In 44 years or thereabouts, I have not seen anything that remotely qualifies.

    As a youngster I loved lookin up at the night sky, sometimes with friends, and in particular enjoying the amazing feeling of great remoteness from the stars and yet a kind of giddy connectedness to all around. Exhilaration is the forgotten word for describing the feeling. A god or gods played no part in this feeling. It

  19. March 14th, 2010 at 00:41 | #19

    And all that has nothing whatsoever to with the topic of this thread.

    Unless you are equating Murdoch somehow with your god?

  20. Freelander
    March 14th, 2010 at 19:46 | #20

    @charles

    Oh my God. I’m Shocked! Who’d have thought?

  21. jquiggin
    March 14th, 2010 at 19:55 | #21

    Nothing more on religion and atheism please. I’ve deleted a bunch, but it’s slow going, so the thread will have to stay derailed.

  22. wilful
    March 15th, 2010 at 09:06 | #22

    Athiesm is a religion, the congregation are constantly telling everyone that their religion is the one true faith.

    You’ve got absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, do you?

  23. wilful
    March 15th, 2010 at 09:06 | #23

    jquiggin :
    Nothing more on religion and atheism please. I’ve deleted a bunch, but it’s slow going, so the thread will have to stay derailed.

    Sorry! Only saw your post once I’d posted.

  24. Ken
    March 15th, 2010 at 10:00 | #24

    As long as the majority of people are ‘informed’ by the mainstream media they’ll remain uninformed; most of it is infotainment and lots of the supposed serious reportage has biased subtext. Even the seriousness of an issue like climate change is undermined by the gratuitous mentions such as recent blaming the deterioration of Rio’s famous statue on it; did those (unnamed) ‘experts’ have any real expertise or even basis for such a claim? Did the news services try and find anyone with real expertise to check such a claim? Meanwhile the overall impression the public gets is that people will blame anything and everything on climate change and the result is a serious issue is taken less seriously. Whilst it might be stretching things to assign machiavellian motives to choosing to broadcast such claims, my opinion of the mainstream media is so low that I can imagine deliberate editorial choice to trivialise it. Certainly issues like the ongoing campaign to undermine the credibility of science barely rates a mention. And can we expect papers like The Australian or The Times of London that are spearheads of that campaign to stop and be objective and truthful about it? At best the owner of those bird cage liners will find cause to reconsider and a serious issue will get the serious reporting it deserves. But I wouldn’t expect an apology; being that rich and powerful means never ever having to say you are sorry or admit you were wrong.

    Thank you bloggers – Tim at Deltoid and John here. Tamino and DeepClimate, Skeptical Science, RealClimate and Climate Shifts too…But it takes an active interest, time, effort and an ability to discriminate for the internet to be more informative than the spoon fed pap of the MSM; for those wanting their inclination to believe climate scientists worldwide are biased, incompetent and engaged in world domination reinforced there’s so, so much to choose from it’s frightening.

  25. may
    March 15th, 2010 at 12:36 | #25

    @sdfc

    good acts by individual people (whatever religion) are used to validate hierarchy.

    bad acts are not a bug they are a feature.

  26. may
    March 15th, 2010 at 12:38 | #26

    sorry JQ.

    commented before scrolldown.

  27. Marion Delgado
    March 16th, 2010 at 04:59 | #27

    Kanazawa could have made a strong point buried in there somewhere, though. The point he wants to make is his surmise that catastrophic change can select for species that will go extinct quicker under less catastrophic conditions than would some species killed off in the catastrophe. Another point is that from a fossil record point of view it might be harder to point out just-so story logic in the selection process. It’s certainly food for thought.

    Darwin thought human evolution would slow down to a crawl in the strictest sense – that the human species wouldn’t change much genetically, except in a greater predominance in previously survival-poor traits. One of many notions corrected by modern genetics, because human evolution is in fact still ongoing – it’s a subjective freeze like watching the teakettle come to a boil on medium heat. It’s not fast or dramatic enough for sociobiology to be interested, or pop science, but it’s definitely there. Mutation, random selection, genetic drift – the whole thing is at work in the human population. There may be SUPERIOR MUTANTS among us! 1% less likely to contract cervical cancer! Better able to digest beets! The possibilities are endless.

  28. Marcel Kincaid
    March 17th, 2010 at 15:10 | #28

    Kanazawa is talking out of his posterior orifice. Evolution is a change of allele frequencies in a gene pool; this obviously does not only happen when the environment is unchanging over many generations — how absurd, and contrary to biological science. His “evolution can’t happen because nature can’t determine which traits to select and which to eliminate” is beyond ridiculous, implying a strong teleology in nature that does not exist at all, and flying in the face of simple and obvious facts. What, he thinks no traits were eliminated in any of the mass extinctions on this planet that resulted from radical change in the environment?

    “The point he wants to make is his surmise that catastrophic change can select for species that will go extinct quicker under less catastrophic conditions than would some species killed off in the catastrophe.”

    That’s not what he said, and rather than being a “strong point”, that “surmise” and “can” makes it as weak as possible. Of course catastrophic change can select traits that are less resilient in stable conditions, but there’s no reason to think it generally will.

    “There may be SUPERIOR MUTANTS among us!”

    Superiority is not a biological concept.

    ” Better able to digest beets!”

    You can detect them by their big ears and feet and their small brains.

  29. Marcel Kincaid
    March 17th, 2010 at 15:58 | #29

    P.S. I don’t think it’s at all a stretch to say that Kanazawa is a pseudoscientist who gives evolutionary psychology — which is already eyed skeptically by many scientists — a bad name, or that he is a loon. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satoshi_Kanazawa

    “Imagine that, on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers came down, the President of the United States was not George W. Bush, but Ann Coulter. What would have happened then? On September 12, President Coulter would have ordered the US military forces to drop 35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East, killing all of our actual and potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children. On September 13, the war would have been over and won, without a single American life lost. Yes, we need a woman in the White House, but not the one who’s running (Hillary Clinton, ed.)”.

    I actually don’t think that Ann Coulter is quite that reckless.

  30. paul walter
    March 18th, 2010 at 13:33 | #30

    In referring to”superior mutants”, Marcel Kincaid is referring indirectly to folk like Albrechtsen and Milne?
    Much of the problem with public broadcasting seems to come from the Labor Right’s tardiness in dismantling the apparatus established during the Howard years.
    The worst example is the most egregious, as well as the most recent, involving that vicious attack from Zionist Howardist crank and board chairman Maurice Newman and the quarrell he’s picked with people like Jonathon Holmes.
    Many thought the problem with the ABC involved its head news honcho, surname of Cameron I think. But since his replacement by a woman who’s name escapes me, last year, the process downhill has accelerated rather than eased in the wake of the change of government.
    But what a legendarily offensive choice a barbarian like Conroy was, for the ministry that takes in public broadcasting in the wake of whatever deals were done behind closed doors between Rudd and Murdoch. Someone like Duncan Kerr would have been a better choice, surely!

  31. Alice
    March 19th, 2010 at 19:30 | #31

    @paul walter
    Tardiness is my only complaint againts Rudd and too much mollification of the stewards of the prior obnoxious regime. Nice gesture but it isnt working in any polls sense. Enough with the fairness – were they fair when they had power? Are they fair now? Even my kid says all they do is obstruct and object and slow progress and he is undecided but ticked off at rotten infrastructure like the rest of us.

    To be as ruthless as Howard is a much better strategy for Rudd. Its why they got the vote – a mandate to clean out the mad right – I just wish they would get on with the job faster and stop trying to get on with and show magnaminity to these clowns now (meaning the incredibly deep and caring ??? Mr Abbott who will never ever ever ever ever ever ever deliver a years parental leave – note I said it here first).

    Not after having been whacked in the head badly by Uncle Wilson Tuck. (Tony you idiot – what were you thinking ? Whats that green tea you have been drinking after your morning ride…or was Tony taking us all a morning ride?

    Nothing unusual in that. Its the modern liberals and the media. The greatest cookup of all time known to Australians. (ever ever ever)

  32. paul walter
    March 20th, 2010 at 14:38 | #32

    Alice, #31, refers to “too much mollification” of the old guard, but here is SA am just out the door to do my civic duty, as is demanded by convention and the fear of a fine, at the regular four yearly juncture.
    It has been a most depressing campaign, with the complacent Rann government looking punch drunk, having spent the last eight years “molly”coddling the developer end of town whilst ignoring everyone else, while the Lib opposition behaved like delinquent pork chops . But the government can’t “hide their lying eyes”, as the old Eagles song goes, and the opposition has done well by following Rudd’s 2007 tactic of just lying low and staying a small target, whilst Labor’s crash thru or crash approach has alienated many in its very heartland, where I live.
    “everyway you look at it , you lose”, to quote Simon and Garfunkle and “Mrs Robinson”.

  33. Freelander
    March 20th, 2010 at 17:17 | #33

    @paul walter

    I had wondered why the ABC has gone downhill, so far and so fast. Other than now giving the impression of being an arm of Rupert Murdoch enterprises, the new lot are poorly educated even when it comes to English. They also have a uniformly high regard for their own opinions. Too often, now, an ‘interview’ is nothing but one ‘journalist’ talking to another ‘journalist’ who is giving his or her interpretation of what someone, who is a someone, has said without providing us, the audience, with what that person said directly. They also frequently misquote and beat up and distort what someone said, again, rather than simply providing the original source. Reporting is now a lost art, in many ways. As is real investigative journalism. And they wonder why people would rather hear what someone who is not a ‘professional’ journalist has to say.

  34. Alice
    March 20th, 2010 at 18:35 | #34

    @Megan
    Whats worse is Megan – even his own kids are objecting to Murdoch media…I suspect his grandkids will as well. Murodch has run the media for policies that suit the big end of town (where he lives) for years and in my opinion its causing a backlash against the neoliberal right. We didnt vote Murdoch in and his business is journalism and media be has chosen to live his life playing out his own conservative politics through the media and appointing and annointing mouthpieces like family friends (MD and Albrechtsen and Ackerman) and editors on that basis.
    At least Packer appeared to have a genuine fondness for real investigative journalism – more balls and less vindictiveness. Happy to be a media baron ? instead of wanting to be a ruling oligarch and push for benefits for other silver spooners.

  35. paul walter
    March 20th, 2010 at 23:26 | #35

    Just finished watching SA election coverage on tel, been like parklands footy on a wet Saturday, as far as political sophistication go, this election.
    The result is that Labor is on life support right now, regardless of what these weird laptop things say, that the Easterners bring with them.
    The telecast itself was fraught with tech glitches, as predicted by Media Watch last year when they described problems arising on a regular basis since they computerised the newsroom to get rid of tech staff.
    Re Freelander’s comment, the one exception to a mundane presentation came from Dominique Schwartz, the Adelaide newsreader. The cameo sketch interviews with different politicians emphasised house psephologist Dean Jaensch’s comment that there are local subtleties that elude “foreigners” but detectable by locals, but also the difference between the best (eg Schwartz)and some of the new rude kittens and pups now swamping the system.
    Anyway, big swing, 7%, to Redmond Libs, but uneven in regions and not translated into major seat gains. However a couple of doubtful seats hang by a thread in anticipation of postals, so results will not be known for a few days, hung Parlia (Iwish!) or even lib coalition with indies is possible.
    Mercifully, a Rudd-free zone for most of the night, so will stick with auntie yet longer.
    Tassie election result similar, one hears?

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