Oz meltdown: Quiggin edition

Reading the latest delusionist nonsense at the Oz (from William Kininmonth) I was surprised, to put it mildly, to find myself quoted as an authority for the proposition that

mainstream science is on the verge of being overturned by the efforts of a group of dedicated amateurs

Readers may recall that what I actually wrote in the Fin last week was

While most media outlets give at least some space to these conspiracy theorists, the central role has been played by The Australian. Not only its opinion columnists (with a handful of honorable exceptions) and its editorials, but even its news reporting is dominated by the idea that mainstream science is on the verge of being overturned by the efforts of a group of dedicated amateurs, publishing their findings not in the peer-reviewed literature but through blogs, thinktanks and vanity presses

Interestingly, not even the keenest delusionists in the comments thread managed to construe this as a suggestion that amateur climate ‘science’ was actually a serious threat to the real thing. I’ll be interested to see how they manage to endorse or excuse Kininmonth here, and if any of them are actually willing to admit that one of their seemingly more reputable authorities (unlike the usual run of drama critics, dotty peers, retired mining executives and so on, Kininmonth has held an impressive range of positions and even, though mostly in the distant past, published some real peer-reviewed research ) has either been deliberately doctoring quotes or is incapable of basic comprehension.

In the spirit of sceptical inquiry, I’m not jumping to conclusions about the Oz itself on this one. Opinion editors rarely fact check their columnists, and on one memorable occasion back in the Tom Switzer era, reader Terje Peterson managed to elicit a correction from Janet Albrechtsen after a team effort here demonstrated that one of her columns was based on a misreading of statistics.

In the hope of a double, I’ve written to the Oz, asking for a correction in the following terms:

In “Cold facts dispel theories on warming” William Kininmonth attributed to John Quiggin the claim that “mainstream science is on the verge of being overturned by the efforts of a group of dedicated amateurs” . Quiggin does not hold this view, and the article in question referred to such claims, propagated by Kininmonth and others in the pages of The Australian, as displaying “a large dose of delusion.”

So, we’ll see what they have to say. Either way, anyone who thought Kininmonth deserved to be taken more seriously than, say, Lord Monckton > , will have to think again.

Update Wednesday’s Fin ran a letter from Kininmonth with the same doctored quote. Of course, there is almost no factchecking of letters, so I don’t blame the Fin for this and, if I can make some space, I can always reply in my next column. This is a reminder that the Oz still has time to redeem itself by running a correction. No word yet on this.

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