Home > Boneheaded stupidity > The Daily Mail: even more comprehensively anti-science than I thought

The Daily Mail: even more comprehensively anti-science than I thought

September 18th, 2013

Much of the climate delusionist material that is recirculated by the Oz, Bolt etc, comes from the UK Daily Mail (not a Murdoch paper, but maybe even worse). So it may be worth pointing out that the Daily Mail is a comprehensive source of science misinformation. In particular, it has been the leading promoter of discredited anti=vaccination claims about links to autism.

Not only that, but the Daily Mail has taken a leading role in anti-scientific scare campaigns about “Frankenfoods”, aka GM food. Google produced this page which seems to wrap up all the conspiracy theories about MMR, AGW, GM etc into a single utterly loony package. It neatly eliminates the need to read Bolt or the Oz?

My only question is: When is Graham Lloyd going to start reproducing this kind of material?

Categories: Boneheaded stupidity Tags:
  1. BBD
    September 19th, 2013 at 02:03 | #1

    There is an essential backgrounder by the Carbon Brief detailing the way Lord Lawson’s climate misinformation lobby group the GWPF feeds the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday with climate lies. Apologies if this is old news here, but just in case.

  2. Ikonoclast
    September 19th, 2013 at 11:00 | #2

    The issue is that about 60% of the population (IMO) believe everything they read in the newspapers. Also, they don’t even understand what science is or how it works. The population is ignorant and propagandised which is how the oligarchic masters want it.

    It’s all very well having a contemptuous and superior attitude to the right-wing liars but they are winning hands down and taking 60% (again IMO) of the population with them. What really has to be grappled with is how to overcome this systematic deception of the masses.

  3. September 19th, 2013 at 14:21 | #3

    Sadly for supposedly intelligent people (mostly anyway) the most vocal climate change supporters (CCS) show very little understanding of human nature. Firstly, the vast majority of people do not have the time nor the inclination to wade through reams of scientific studies so yes they rely upon newspapers and sound bites. In this regard, the CCS are their own worst enemy shrilling over egged claims time and again. Do we need to review Al Gore’s movie 12 years on and compare his predication with what has occured? Flannigan, seriously? Could one person do more damage to the environmental cause with nonsensical forecasts. Cophenhagan, with over 140 hangers on at public and charity expense? The average Australian works on the premise that if it sounds like a rort, smells like a rort then it is a rort.

    Of course as ably witnessed on these pages, should anyone raise their heads from the altar of CC then they must be instantly condemned as bogans, idiots, child killers and other such arrogant nonsense. It does not take an Einstein to figure this is not a smart way to garner public support hence the decimation of those who practice same by the voting public. You really think there is no penalty for calling a majority of the public idiots and worse? If so more fool you.

    Newsflash, the vast majority of Australians do believe in protection of the environment but they are not foolish enough to believe that if we leave Australia’s coal in the ground that Indonesia won’t triple output. They don’t believe that the dams will never fill again or that the desalination plant was good use of tax payer money. They don’t get how taxing Australians is going to slow the expotential rise in emissions from India, China and Indonesia.

    Frankly, the CCS have no one to blame for the current situation but themselves.

  4. September 19th, 2013 at 15:01 | #4

    Such a great illustration of Professor Quiggin’s previous post.

    http://johnquiggin.com/2013/09/13/a-new-two-step/

    A: “Climate change is real, the whole world must act NOW”

    B: “I agree, we should adopt policies such as carbon tax or ETS as well as doing every little bit that helps”

    A: “That’s absurd! We will not stand for that unless the WHOLE WORLD acts”

  5. Crispin Bennett
    September 19th, 2013 at 15:16 | #5

    @Rustynails I nearly replied with a few substantive points, but on reflection I’d sooner just sit in a corner and quietly throttle myself. A farrago of poppycock like this is just impossible to grapple with in any meaningful way. Look, if you have the evidence to overturn the work of thousands of scientists, across multiple separate disciplines, in just about every research institution in dozens of countries across the globe, just write it up and get your Nobel. You’re wasting your talents here.

  6. John Quiggin
    September 19th, 2013 at 15:27 | #6

    @Rustynails

    I think you’d be better off posting this in the Party of Stupid thread. You certainly illustrate the processes discussed there.

  7. Sean
    September 19th, 2013 at 15:27 | #7

    @Rustynails
    So it’s OK to write blatantly false articles about climate change then?

  8. September 19th, 2013 at 15:50 | #8

    “should anyone raise their heads from the altar of CC then they must be instantly condemned as bogans, idiots, child killers and other such arrogant nonsense. It does not take an Einstein to figure this is not a smart way to garner public support hence the decimation of those who practice same by the voting public”

    Thanks for making my point. Indeed no where did I say CC did not exist nor should nothing be done about it. What I did say was viciously attacking people, calling people names, making claims that at best worst case scenarios helps the cause not one bit.

    Ok, I get it you are all so much smarter than the rest of us/them/others, a cold comfort in real poltic (pun intended).

  9. September 19th, 2013 at 15:59 | #9

    @Tom
    “Climate Change is real and the whole world must act now”..Except they won’t and Indonesia, China, India are not about to stop their march to development to please anyone.

    ….ETS..Carbon Tax…every little bit that helps ..Except it doesn’t other than make it more profitable for Indonesia to extract and sell coal without the environmental regulations in Australia.

    “That’s Absurb, we will not stand for it unless the WHOLE WORLD acts” Except that has nothing to do with what I was saying. Extreme black or white just pushes people into a postion where they dont really wish to be. However that is what is occuring and the environment is the casualty.

  10. Crispin Bennett
    September 19th, 2013 at 16:00 | #10

    @Rustynails
    “vocal climate change supporters”
    “vocal gravity supporters”
    Compare and contrast.

  11. Crispin Bennett
    September 19th, 2013 at 16:08 | #11

    “vocal Darwinian evolution supporters”
    “vocal spherical Earth supporters”

    Damn, there’s some crazy advocacy going on out there.

  12. John Quiggin
    September 19th, 2013 at 16:09 | #12

    @Rustynails

    I don’t see any point in seeking the support of ideologues and culture warriors. The only thing to do is to discredit them in the eyes of the majority of the public. As I mention in the Party of Stupid thread, this process is already well advanced in the US, particularly among the young.

  13. Troy Prideaux
    September 19th, 2013 at 16:11 | #13

    @Rustynails
    There’s nothing inherently dumb about a religious viewpoint or a ideological viewpoint or even a moral one for that matter. We all have philosophical disagreements along these lines, and that makes the world an interesting place. However, to reject science, and in particular, strong scientific consensus just out-of-hand because it may clash with your ideology without even attempting to read or understand it is just plain dumb.

  14. wilful
    September 19th, 2013 at 16:48 | #14

    A pile-on to Rustynails won’t achieve much, but I will chuck in one small thing for him to consider, and that is that if he thinks that the rude and arrogant ones are those that accept the science, then he is totally detached from reality.

  15. Nick
    September 19th, 2013 at 17:25 | #15

    Rustynails: “Newsflash, the vast majority of Australians do believe in protection of the environment but they are not foolish enough to believe that if we leave Australia’s coal in the ground that Indonesia won’t triple output.”

    If the vast majority of Australians believe that, they’ve been incredibly misinformed.

    If Indonesia triples its output, it will exhaust it’s entire known reserves in just 3 years.

    Australia has 15 times the coal reserves of Indonesia.

    Leaving it in the ground would effectively reduce world coal reserves by 10%.

    If America did the same, they would be reduced by a further 25%.

    That would make an enormous difference to carbon emissions in the next 20-30 years.

    It would very much help to protect the environment.

  16. Nick
    September 19th, 2013 at 17:34 | #16
  17. quokka
    September 19th, 2013 at 18:09 | #17

    If some dodgy paper surfaced linking GM foods to autism (why not? – they have been “linked” to just about everything else), John Vidal in the Guardian would be all over it like a rash. Followed by a tsunami of comments about scientists being bought and paid for even if every national academy in the known universe declared said paper to be rubbish.

    Regrettably, the loony right are not the only anti-science forces out there. Some house cleaning is well overdue.

  18. BBD
    September 19th, 2013 at 18:59 | #18

    And here was me thinking there would be a discussion of the subversion of democracy by vested interest manipulating the media on this thread. That got trolled off by comment #3. Nice work, RN!

  19. September 19th, 2013 at 19:48 | #19

    @BBD

    Excellent point. A concern troll telling everyone to be nice to deniers to win them over while saying Al Gore is fat and “Flannigan” is just, well, seriously….., has achieved quite a bit.

    I take issue however with the suggestion that the various “Mails” are possible ‘worse’ than Murdoch. The “Mails” are confined to a segment of society whereas, particularly, in Australia the Murdoch machine infects ALL establishment media/politics. The ABC is simply Murdoch’s publicly funded marketing arm.

    “Missed it or deliberately avoided it? Well, never mind – it’s all regurgitated right here on ‘your’ ABC”.

  20. John Quiggin
    September 19th, 2013 at 20:37 | #20

    @quokka

    Actually, it turns out that the Daily Mail is far worse than Vidal on this issue. I’ve updated the post to reflect this.

  21. Jim Rose
    September 19th, 2013 at 22:17 | #21

    The Daily Mail is a tabloid that offers escapist fare as news and good writing on celebrity gossip, food, films, entertainment and sport. We cannot all be Guardian readers.

  22. BBD
    September 19th, 2013 at 23:29 | #22

    @Jim Rose

    Please do me the courtesy of reading the first comment on this thread. Follow the link.

  23. September 20th, 2013 at 00:20 | #23

    WTF is a “climate delusionist”? Does anybody know? Is that the same as an AGW fraudster or is it someone who thinks the climate is static?

  24. jrkrideau
    September 20th, 2013 at 01:36 | #24

    @phoenix
    “WTF is a “climate delusionist”?”

    Lord Moncton? He’s loopy enough he may even believe what he says. Or who’s that scientist who claims the Sun is made of iron?

  25. September 20th, 2013 at 07:35 | #25

    @Nick
    Sorry Nick you are the one misinformed, it may be prudent to review the coal reserves of Kalimantan and the yet untouched (essentially) reserves of Sumatera.

  26. BBD
    September 20th, 2013 at 07:58 | #26

    @Rustynails

    You did make a worthwhile point in you first comment on this thread:

    Firstly, the vast majority of people do not have the time nor the inclination to wade through reams of scientific studies so yes they rely upon newspapers and sound bites.

    Indeed so. Which is why it is such a serious matter when the plutocracy uses the mass media to misinform the electorate on matters of great seriousness. The Mail and its associated website has a huge audience. The Murdoch press in Australia is pervasive – and republishes lies seeded by the GWPF in the Mail. There is a reason for all this. It is not a malicious practical joke.

    If you aren’t perturbed by the erosion of democracy this represents, then nothing I can say will make any difference. You will get the future you deserve – but the rest of us will not.

  27. John Quiggin
    September 20th, 2013 at 08:34 | #27

    @Jim Rose

    And the Oz, Bolt etc recycle the rubbish produced by the Daily Mail. So, I guess we can all be Daily Mail readers, at least by proxy

  28. J-D
    September 20th, 2013 at 12:26 | #28

    @Rustynails
    Yes, it’s true that many people rely on newspapers and sound bites. That’s why it’s a good idea to remind people (in what might be considered a sound bite, so you should approve) that newspapers print a lot of rubbish, which is more or less what John Quiggin is doing, as are the people who routinely refer to the Daily Mail as the ‘Daily Fail’, the people who wear T-shirts saying ‘Is that the truth, or did you read it in the Telegraph?’ (or ‘… see it on FOX?’), and so on.

  29. Nick
    September 20th, 2013 at 14:15 | #29

    @Rustynails

    http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/pdf/statistical-review/statistical_review_of_world_energy_2013.pdf

    Rustynails, here are the figures – Indonesia currently has 14 years of commercially viable reserves to production. If you have up to date figures which show otherwise, I’d be keen to see them.

  30. Nick
    September 20th, 2013 at 14:16 | #30

    http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/pdf/statistical-review/statistical_review_of_world_energy_2013.pdf

    Rustynails, here are the figures – Indonesia currently has 14 years of commercially viable reserves to production.

    If you have up to date figures which show otherwise, I’d be keen to see them.

  31. Donald Oats
    September 20th, 2013 at 19:01 | #31

    Rustynails, if people rely on newspapers and soundbites for acquiring accurate information about the subjects of interest to them, then they are letting themselves down.

    In a free market, the big newspaper proprietors can shape the news any way they want, and all the evidence is that some of them do just that. It is as simple as placing a story template on the web-equivalent of the wire news services^fn1 that they own, and leaving it up to the various newspaper editors (who are working for the papers that the proprietor also owns) to select (the version/variant of) the story that best suits their particular readership, and off they go. If the template only provides for a particularly conservative slant on the subject of the article, none of the consumers (i.e. the newspaper companies that need news articles for their newspapers) are going to completely rewrite the story with a neutral or left wing slant to it.

    With a bit of googling, it is relatively easy to get a sense of the flow of a given article from news wire service to media, especially to the print media. Comparison of a given article on a particularly hot topic, say the upcoming IPCC report, can demonstrate how slight variations of the one article suddenly populate the print media, and the degree to which different newspapers slant a story to the right can also be seen, by simple side-by-side comparison. I say “slant a story to the right”, because that seems to be the overwhelming majority of cases.

    Those who control the production and flow of information have their own interests at heart, not necessarily the interests of their readers. Therefore, it is encumbent upon us—the readers—to do the hard yards and to look into the facts behind a story, rather than merely rely upon the newspapers to do that for us. I’ve fallen into this trap of not following up on newspaper articles, only to find later that they were quite inaccurate, and in a selective manner to boot. It is a bit of a shock when first confronted with this, but it is not really anything new. I guess the point that really hit me was that if this issue of severe bias and inaccuracies is present in subjects for which I already have some solid technical knowledge, then clearly this could also be true of subjects for which I have little prior knowledge, especially if these subjects are of political or financial value to the proprietors of the media.

    In a free market, we get an uneasy tension between what the customers (think they) want and what the producers want to produce; there is nothing in that equation that points to an economically optimal solution also being a socially beneficial solution.

    fn1: For example, AAP, or Thomson Reuters, or Bloomberg; these are all news wire service providers for stories and story templates. Then there are the PR wire services, spreading like wildfire. Google “news wire service” to see what I mean.

  32. Donald Oats
    September 20th, 2013 at 19:20 | #32

    On the question of mis-representation, Tim Flannery is a good example. I too have some difficulty with his often over-enthusiastic portrayal of possible consequences of AGW. However, far too often the sequence of events is this:
    1) Tim Flannery is interviewed, or gives a press release to a reporter/newspaper.
    2) In it, Tim says “If A, then B will occur, if assumptions C are accurate.”
    3) We get the condensed version, i.e. “B will occur.”
    4) All the blogs and newspapers and Fox News, etc, pillory Tim for saying “B will occur.”
    5) Tim tries to cut through the barrage and to explain that “B will occur” was actually highly qualified in the original statement.
    6) Noone listens to Tim’s clarification, because they already know Tim said “B will occur,” which is clearly hyperbole of the first order.
    7) A few hardy souls google the original transcript/press release, and discover that Tim did in fact give a correct, highly qualified statement, with a quite different slant to what was disseminated in the mainstream media.
    8) Tim makes another statement about another potential problem caused by AGW…

    To which I’ll add:
    9) Tim makes the occasional mistake, which he then corrects, but the media take it as demonstrating that Tim’s “predictions” are wrong, yet again.

    Tim Flannery is low on my list of disseminators of information concerning AGW, but honestly, he cops far more flak than is deserved; if the mistakes and gross errors made by some of the conservative right commentators were tallied up, as individuals they would be far in excess of Tim in the erroneous and/or exaggerated effect of some issue to do with AGW. They don’t get slammed by the mainstream media—oh, wait, they are the mainstream media!

  33. Tim Macknay
    September 20th, 2013 at 21:34 | #33

    @jrkrideau
    Phoenix’ question was rhetorical. He’s got a t-shirt with it written on it, prefixed by ‘proudly’.

  34. Fran Barlow
    September 21st, 2013 at 08:01 | #34

    @Donald Oats

    I am amongst those whose opinion of Flannery has declined sharply in recent years, though not for the reasons one finds in the Blotosphere.

    His discussion with Jones on Lateline the other night underlines my concerns. He is inept in his discussion of key issues — often sounding as if he wants to accommodate the prejudices of the delusionals — pairing the out and out liars of the spreaders of disinformation along with Suzuki as “extremists” and failing to refute the trolling Daily Fail claims put to him by Jones.

  35. BBD
    September 21st, 2013 at 08:34 | #35

    The Overton Window has been shifted by the misinformers.

    The power of the press!

  36. Donald Oats
    September 21st, 2013 at 15:12 | #36

    The answer to your question, Prof Quiggin, is that Graham Lloyd has started today in the Oz.
    And true to type, the paper also has Judith Curry on page one of the Inquirer.

  37. Jim Rose
    September 21st, 2013 at 18:59 | #37

    @John Quiggin i do not read bolt

  38. September 22nd, 2013 at 10:16 | #38

    @Nick Sorry Nick been a bit busy. A couple of points firstly ‘bp’ is well recognised as the more conservative measure of ‘known’ coal reserves but even then..
    “Kalimantan has 55.0% of the known coal deposits and Sumatra has 45%. Of these deposits 33.8 billion tonnes are inferred resources, 12.2 billion tonnes are indicated and 10.8 billion tonnes are measured resources. Of the total 60.8 billion tonnes coal deposits approximately seven billion tonnes have been identified as commercially exploitable or minable reserves. Assuming an average coal production of 155 million tonnes a year, the seven billion tonnes minable deposits will last for 45 years. This is compared to the estimate that crude oil reserves will be exhausted in 15 years.”

    http://apaccoal.com/Industry.asp

    Of course, the above is based on what is considered commercially viable at the moment. The reality is Sumatera has barely been surveyed for two reasons, firstly, the coal is generally of lower thermal value hence lower price and secondly unlike Kalimantan which has the Mahakam River, Sumatera has no way of transporting the coal to the port. Sumatera will remain that way whilst coal remains under $100 Tonne. You can rest assured that once coal hits $125 tonne, there will be a massive upgrading in Sumatera coal reserves, too bad its low calorific value and generally dirty coal contributing massively to environment pollution.

    However, congrats if you succeed in stopping coal exports from Australia. The rail line through the centre of Sumatera will become viable again along with jungle access for deforestation, the destruction of the last of the Orang Hutan and Sumatera Tiger. No a bad effort to make a few people feel smug in Australia? Untended consequences can be a b*tch hey?

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