“We got it wrong”, says Oz, but they’re still wrong

Along with many others, I pointed out the absurdity of Graham Lloyd’s piece in the Oz, headlined “We got it wrong, says IPCC”. The Oz has printed a “correction”

blaming their absurd error on “the production process”. In the sense that the processes of the Oz, from the hiring of general editor Chris Mitchell and environment “reporter” Graham Lloyd, combined with uncritical reproduction of claims by discredited sources like David Rose “produced” the error. I guess this is true. But, this is part of a consistent pattern. Errors like this have been produced routinely in the past, and will continue to be produced in the future. Regular, but inadequate, retractions are part of this process.

42 thoughts on ““We got it wrong”, says Oz, but they’re still wrong

  1. In the grand scheme of things the retraction doesn’t matter one whit. That side “wins” by muddying the waters sufficiently to prevent an honest discussion of the issue and what’s at stake. Despite the retraction I am certain that that ignorant lunatic fringe will continue to gleefully spout the “truth” for years or even decades that AGW has been decisively debunked.

  2. Most of the right-wing blogatariat (e.g. C…….y, Jennifer M etc) are reproducing these lies. There is an eagerness to justify their own foolish views that overrides concern for the truth.

    Got to say too that one of my non-looney friends at work picked up on the story and asked me whether the IPCC got it wrong. Obviously he didn’t see the retraction.

  3. I used to engage on Jo Nova’s climate “skeptic” blog, but have stopped. There just seems no point in engaging the people who deliberately lie about global warming.

    It is a great shame that Murdoch still happily gives them a platform.

  4. @John Brookes

    Murdoch also offered to bankroll a presidential bid, should David Petraeus have a try at the US presidency (Petraeus declined Ailes’ offer).

    Murdoch also continues to hire Roger Ailes as head of Fox News in the US, despite Ailes having offered Fox as “in-house”. In a taped interview, an intermediary said in clear reference to Murdoch, Roger Ailes and Fox News:

    “The big boss is bankrolling it. Roger’s going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house.”


    … and of course Murdoch also continues to hire Andrew Bolt, a convicted liar.

    Conspiracy. It’s what Murdoch does.

  5. It’s not the minority fringe I’m worried about. The Australian article was widely syndicated through the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph and other media outlets with much larger readerships than the Australian or the minority fringe.

    Why are the corrections from those media outlets that what they published was wrong?

    Why when I link to the Australian article is there still no correction *right there on the page* to indicate that what was published was wrong?

  6. It’s a common rhetorical device: “technically we were wrong but if we change the question we were right in substance”. No doubt the unconscious logic is that the IPCC ought to have come out and admitted they were wrong, so really they are just as culpable as the original story implied – only for different reasons.

  7. As far as the Australian is concerned their only error was to “base their report on a British media article.”

    Is there more than one irony in this statement?

  8. Which scenario is most likely:

    1. The Oz was incompetent in reporting and published the claim without fact-checking

    2. The Oz knew it wasn’t true but thought a quick bit of propaganda wouldn’t be debunked so widely and fully.

    3. The Oz knew it would have to eventually retract, but wanted to create a right-wing meme to help out the new government, knowing that forever more, the IPCC reversal that never happened will feature in every denialist’s Gish gallop.

  9. AGW concern seems to track unpleasant weather. Rudd I was elected in November 2007 a time of climate anxiety. Now it’s balmy we largely tolerate climate denial but surely some abnormally bad developments (fires, floods, droughts, cyclones) can’t be far away. I suspect when that happens the Direct Action dial gets turned to 3 out of 10 then back to 0.5 when the concern subsides.

    Conservatives cope by feeling less shame than others. I think they’ll have no problem chopping and changing on climate policy as the public mood shifts. The catch is their default value is indifference.

  10. Will @ #1 said:

    Despite the retraction I am certain that that ignorant lunatic fringe will continue to gleefully spout the “truth” for years or even decades that AGW has been decisively debunked.

    The mainstream Anglosphere Right, particularly the Murdoch media, has certainly embraced “ignorant lunatic fringe” views where it suits them: Iraq, GFC and of course AGW. But it is an open question whether this is the reason that on these issues public opinion and public policy have failed to shift much to the Left.

    The $64 question is why, in the post-Cold War era, Left-wing politics has failed to make headway in the face of epic fails by Right-wing policy makers on strategy, economy and ecology. As a general rule, Left-wing policy is preferred in public opinion polls but Right-wing politics is winning in public electoral contests. Its a puzzlement!

    I am dubious that the recent miserable under-performance of the Left can be put down to Murdoch propaganda, “false consciousness” or some other crypto-Gramscian theories.

    Its obvious that the digital democratisation of social media and online ads has put the power of the MSM is in free fall, if not total collapse. So its ability to directly manipulate public opinion is therefore much weakened.

    In most political conflicts the MSM tend to be a “flow”, rather than “swing”, factor. That is it tends to follow, rather than lead public opinion, in a bandwagon effect. Articulating, reinforcing and perhaps capitalising on amorphous public vibes.

    Doubtless Murdoch can influence some public policy behind the scenes, but this is mainly in areas of special concern to News eg broadband, anti-trust etc, He can perhaps go after suborn certain politicians who especially irk him. But he cant shift the entire political spectrum or write public policy in general areas.

    My own view, banged on endlessly, is that the mainstream Left has stalled and even gone backwards because it has embraced “ignorant lunatic fringe” politically correct ideology and cultural policy which makes most mainstream voters turn away from it in disgust. This is clearly the case in continental EU where the general populus has embraced Right-wing populism to fight the Left’s Culture War against traditional forms of family, faith and flag.

    However the Culture War is somewhat more muted in the Anglosphere, not the least because our political correct thought police are far more vigilant, which has intimidated the Right. So the Left has made some real gains in the US.

    I suspect that money talks out loud in politics more powerfully now mrre than ever before. The rise of billionaire politicians and political activists (Berulsconi, Putin, Bloomberg, Koch brothers Rinehart, Palmer) openly and shamelessly pursuing their own agendas is an ominous sign for the Left. They obviously reckon that the public will swallow this without gagging too badly.

    In fact the contemporary public seem to accept “the man in front of the scenes” pulling the strings with some enthusiasm. The accumulation of astronomical wealth is apparently proof of political wisdom, economics now being a kind of epistemic stamp of approval. eg betting.

    It would never have happened in my fathers day. Which is a big problem for the Left given that the gains of the Left were mostly made by the skilled tradesman class being NCOs in the Class War. Nowadays most Leftists come across as careerists, wimps and wankers, no match for a public prepared to give a more than fair hearing to Alpha male billionaires.

    Shorter Strocchi: the Left needs to grow a pair.

  11. Weirdly I sort of agree with Mr. Strocchi view that the public face of the Left comes across as careerists, wimps and wankers, no match for a public prepared to give more than a fair hearing to Alpha male billionaires

    and disagree with just about every point of reasoning Mr. Strocchi cited in reaching his conclusion. As for the Left growing a pair? I thought the Right was in charge of anthropomorphizing (oops, outed as as wimp).

    Agreed, the Alpha loonies (from my perspective, mostly male occasionally female, mostly Right occasionally Left) are irritating beyond belief and when left to there own devices downright dangerous

  12. Sorry haven’t got the quoting thing right I, not Mr. Strocchi, said

    Agreed, the Alpha loonies (from my perspective, mostly male occasionally female, mostly Right occasionally Left) are irritating beyond belief and when left to there own devices downright dangerous

  13. Sylvia I would worry too much.

    I suggest to you that Jack’s peculiar analysis is in essence dehumanizing of its’ purported proponents. I doubt Tony Abbott’s ideology reflects the values of the membership or supporters of the Liberal Party at large. The culture wars are purposefully designed to foment wedge politics, rather than express economic interests. Morality requires the Prime Minister (a crusader on moral questions) and those around him, to relate means to ends, which by ethical necessity must exclude lies and disinformation, including the suppression of expert advice on scientific findings.

  14. Murdoch’s approach to the truth runs across all issues.

    I’ve read just about every book about Murdoch, so I can’t remember where it comes from, but apparently when it comes to deliberately publishing defamatory lies his “production process” goes:

    1. Will they sue us?
    2. Will they win?
    3. If they win, how much will it cost us?

    OK, publish!

    I’m sure the same approach translates across all their areas of deliberate deception, in this case AGW.

  15. After having been willing participants, along with the LNP, in the creation of a big demographic that disbelieves the climate problem, journalists and media claiming the growth of that demographic as evidence of a mandate is a bit rich. But journalists know or should that the advice from EVERY corner of mainstream science is that our nation faces a grave and serious danger. A government that is willfully ignoring that should be called out on it by any kind of genuine journalism. A mainstream political Party’s part in deliberate denigration of climate and environmental scientists, in order to dilute trust in our scientists, in order to protect their big business, big miner friends is a profound betrayal of responsibility and trust. They should be called out and questioned on that, but they aren’t.

    Even ABC journalists seem to be agreeing Abbott has a mandate to undo clean energy and climate policies. But no government ever has a Mandate to willfully choose to ignore a real and growing danger to our future security and prosperity; no matter how popular doing so may be, and even if not actually participating in the creation of community disbelief themselves, they are failing their oaths to “well and truly serve the people”.

    I don’t know how many in the LNP are the kinds of out and out deniers that can gut climate action policy and actually believe they are doing a vital good service to Australia, but I would be surprised if they even outnumber those that accept the seriousness of the climate problem and wish for stronger, not weaker responses. As long as the accepters within the LNP don’t have the strength of commitment to stick their heads up and make this an issue the climate science deniers and obstructors will maintain their stranglehold on Conservative politics and the LNP will remain incapable of dealing with the problem in a responsible and effective manner.

  16. It would all be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic. Billions will die now because of the turn to the right and anti-science and the moves further right and into outright lunacy ever since 1970. There is no doubt now (will miniscule doubt, maybe 1% doubt) that the biosphere faces catrostrophic collapse from this point on. I mean a catrostrophic collapse in its capability to support human civilization.

  17. And to support your comment Ike I will put this YouTube visualisation up here again.

    watch it all the way through and see the number of organisations that have contributed to its construction and back it with their credibility. All organisations that tony Abbott is suggesting are participants in a global rentseeking conspiracy.

  18. Some time ago, a commenter on this blogsite mentioned ‘fractal wrongness’. A most helpful comment. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Fractal_wrongness

    IMHO, it is the appropriate concept for the Murdoch Press on the topic in question and some others.

    MHO is based on a detailed case study of the information collection and dissemination process in an organisation where the ‘top’ manager supported the lie to which lower level managers were committed. It is not clear whether the process started at the top or not. No matter which segment of the data set one looks at in detail, the same falshood is evident (contradictions).

  19. @rupertmurdoch: Great first day by PM Abbott firing top bureaucrats,merging departments and killing carbon tax. Much more to do yet.

    @rupertmurdoch: Al Gore. Pls explain record increase in Arctic ice. Other greenies crippling US growth in opposing safe tracking for natural gas.

  20. “There is no doubt now (will miniscule doubt, maybe 1% doubt) that the biosphere faces catrostrophic collapse from this point on.”

    hehe, I think *this view* is what the majority public doesn’t believe, and votes against.

    Every other day there is a breakthrough in hydrogen tech, which will make most concerns obsolete.


    The regular discussion, here, of: climate change, centralised generation and T&D for renewable energy policy, nuclear policy, or electricity asset sales are essentially meaningless, or flawed.

  21. iain, interesting research. But what’s the by product of using carbon as the catalyst for extracting hydrogen from H20? It’s carbon monoxide, which is an indirect greenhouse gas.

  22. @iain
    In theory bio-carbon (not fossil) could be combined with sufficiently cheap hydrogen to create renewable hydrocarbons. Potential synfuels include synthetic methane (google Audi e-gas), methanol used in dirt racers and dimethyl ether as tested in Volvo and Isuzu trucks. DME may be the propellant in some aerosol cans you have at home. The pure hydrogen fuel cell as endorsed by GW Bush appears to be bogged down with cost issues, both for vehicles and service stations. Long range battery cars that battlers can afford appear some way off.

    It has been suggested that wind power could be overbuilt to the extent it requires regular curtailment due to oversupply. That otherwise wasted energy could be used to generate hydrogen using conventional water splitting and platinum catalysts. Estimates put the current cost of electrolytic hydrogen from $2 -$8 per kg with a litre of synfuel made from it several times that. Instead I expect when petrol and diesel are prohibitive we will see a lot of natural gas powered mini-buses moving people around, ordered by smart phone. This may be less than a decade away.

  23. One of the problems with this article is that everyone heard of the ‘lie’, but how many people will hear/read about this appology or correction? The damage has been done to fuel the sceptics.

  24. Those who discount the ABC as useless should have a look at Mediawatch tonight. (Monday 23 Sept.). It repeats most of the objections to Murdoch lies discussed above. How lucky we are to have Paul Barry back in the chair rather than the previous nit pickers and trivia merchants. Be glad that the number of MW viewers is much greater than the cogniscenti who visit here.

  25. Neil Chenoweth is one of Australia’s few real journalists.

    In today’s AFR he writes a piece about how Murdoch blew about $2 Billion on destroying Australian journalism (that’s my view, not his).

    In addition News reported another $US374 million in tax benefits, lifting net profit less minority interests to $US506 million.

    Without the New Zealand sale and the revaluations, News reported an $8 million pre-tax loss. To that can be added back the “restructuring costs”, on the basis that these should not be recurring.

    That puts underlying earnings around the $300 million mark.

    The difficulty this poses for News Corp CEO Robert Thomson and executive chairman Rupert Murdoch is that News has three papers – the New York Post, The Times and The Australian, which together lose reportedly more than $US250 million.

    Closing them could nearly double News Corp’s earnings and put a rocket under its share price. But this is anathema to Murdoch.

    Wall Street Journal revenues were also down $US76 million but it wasn’t all bad news for the newspaper division – it saved $US96 million from lower printing and distribution costs for selling less papers, and $US87 million from cost cutting.

  26. Lacking any health information, Rupert Murdoch´s life expectancy is about 7 years. Say 5 years working, for a fit workaholic. Roger Ailes is 73; he´s a haemophiliac and overweight, so you would need specialist knowledge to estimate his life expectancy. Suppose it´s 5 working years too, which looks generous. Then the joint expectancy of one of them stopping their malign work on health grounds must be under 3 years. The period is further reduced by non-health risks, mainly a palace coup by the Murdoch heirs. It´s unlikely they would keep Ailes, another domineering patriarch to whom they are not related. Any ideas what they would do editorially with the Oz properties?
    I realize that Ailes is irrelevant to Oz media and politics so the calulation reverts to the simple Rupert case.

  27. Kevin1,

    The ABC have done their damage in turning enough of their viewer base to see the pathic Abbott as being a “good” leadership option with their endless unchallenged hours of prime time coverage of Abbott’s gross missinformation campaign.

    Abbott through the last three years demolished good leadership on the environment and through the next 6 years is set to exacerbate global warming simply to satisfy his own ego, personal ideology, and be part of some conservative stupidity cult.

    The eleven years of Howard were damaging enough, the brief Abbott diminished advancement of Climate Action in the Gillard period was hardly enough to make any difference and now another extensively damaging period of Climate Inaction with the environmentally blocked mind of Abbott and followers certainly guarantees the failure of any chance of retarding Global Warming. And to those ratbags who pipe up with “well we could hardly make a difference we’re just a small country”, we are responsible for our share of the problem regardless of what every other country does.

    Australia’s share of this failure will squarely be laid at the feet of Murdoch, Abbott and the ABC management and staff. One good little ABC talkfest programme cannot wipe away the ABC’s responsibility for the disasters that will unfold in coming years.

    If it was just the economy at risk then you could shrug and say “we will recover in the next period”, but this is about a one shot chance at stabilising the environment that we all have to live with. The Global Economy will go down in a screaming heap permanently for getting this wrong.

  28. @BilB
    I have to admit to seeing their timidity manifest itself usually as trivialisation, if not betrayal, of the political analysis it purports to be. Are ABC viewers substantially influenced towards Abbott as a result? I wouldn’t think so. Even the Murdoch influence on vote-changing generally may be over-stated by those who won’t face the long term Labor decline. Dr Tad claims at national LNP vote up only 1.7% in Reps and down in Senate, as well as PUP rise despite a 14 negative front pages in Oz attacking him shows their weakness. http://overland.org.au/2013/09/the-greens-and-labors-crisis/ What do you think?

    Their The Drum show at 6 pm gives a platform to a range of interesting people who don’t otherwise get much mainstream attention, and 10 mins or so interviewing an expert, last night an IPPC author. But little interrogation of the panel members, who just ventilate running commentary, often outrageous yet unchallenged. It might be said it’s in the eye of the beholder, but the idea that Lib commentators eg. Vanstone, Reith, Chikarovski (Helen Coonan is a notable exception) are shallow and more partisan advocates for their side is confirmed, compared to the Labor or ex Labor lot. (Although B Cassidy continues his obsessive vendetta against Rudd, extended now to those who didn’t fight sufficiently hard against him.)

    Yet The Drum website has a range of substantive commentators, today Will Steffen, Jonathan Green, Kohler – maybe airtime for Reith, Ross Cameron etc. is the price that has to be paid.

  29. @BilB

    I just heard an ABC news report on the IPCC.

    Hunt said “we’re going to easily reach 5% with our scheme”. Milne said “it’s not nearly enough, we need to cut more and do it more quickly”. Bowen said “5% is plenty, we shouldn’t aim for more”. I think we’re doomed.

  30. Kevin1,
    Australia’s share of this failure will squarely be laid at the feet of Murdoch, Abbott and the ABC management and staff. One good little ABC talkfest programme cannot wipe away the ABC’s responsibility for the disasters that will unfold in coming years.

    Really? The Australian people have no role at all? They’re passive agents of the Mads Monk & Murdoch?

    Surely much of the point of a democracy is that all the blame for what happens is not to be borne by leaders.

    The Australian people have been sold a pup (comfort + cheap goods as the sine qua non of a good life) by the corporatcracy, certainly. But they bought it.

  31. @Crispin Bennett

    In an absolute sense, you’re right. In theory the populace could have sat up and realised they were being sold a pup (we even had a party with that name!) and figuratively torn the spivs’ politics into tiny pieces and relieved themselves all over it.

    They didn’t for the same reason they don’t actively defend their best interests in any other area of policy — they don’t apprehend what they are. The reasons are complex — far too complex for the kind of post that can be composed here — but the inability to speak its many wishes in public through either a major party or major media organ certainly is one key factor — and that in turn reflects the continuing reality that the ruling ideas in any age are ever the ideas of its ruling class. In the present age, the ruling media reflect the diversity of the ruling class rather than the ruled class.

    To what extent can one hold prisoners responsible for the conduct of their gaolers? A bit, surely, but not entirely, and not even mostly. Until the gaolers are frightened of their prisoners, we are not going to see qualitative progress. It’s as simple as that.

  32. @Fran Barlow
    If I had leisure and ability to spare, I might quibble with the notion of ‘best interests’ (as I doubt there’s a defensible value-free construal of it to be made). But mostly I agree.

    I point the finger of blame at the Volk in the spirit of feigning the generally-held respect for the superiority of liberal democracy. I take that as assumed in most conversation. If what you say is true (and insofar as I have thought about it, I more or less agree), then it’s clear that LD doesn’t have the conative resources to deal with crises that ultimately threaten those in power. That’s more-or-less where we are now.

  33. Crispin Bennet,

    In this last election the public was fed a massive dose of the blatantly false……as in totally untrue….as in bare faced lies, in multitude…. from all media sources. This was not reality slightly massaged to seem different, this was falsity to the point of fraudulence.

    Such blatant missinformation is not the territory of democratic choice of direction based on a fair assessment of the national situation, this was coersion of the public for the sole purpose of electing someone who normally was totally unpalatable to all except the few. This was high pressure sales in the extreme. And for this class of “sale” the cooling off period should apply and the public should have the opportunity to dump the product.

    As I said, if this were just about the economy we might be able to live with it, but this is about the future of the environment and has consequences far beyond the interests of political parties.

  34. Agreed. But you and I can see through this, no? So does this somehow give us agency, while the Great Aussie Public has none at all? The corporatocracy has moral/causal agency because of its power, we have it because of our–what? our superior intelligence? the fidelity of our information sources?–and the GAP is just a kind of tabula rasa, which somehow only Abbot-Murdoch can scrawl on? I don’t buy it.

    When I hear the cashed-up bogans next door dismiss climate change as a con from the comfort of their lavishly-appointed pool, I don’t think I’m hearing the consequences of a paucity of accurate information. I’m hearing people believing what suits their current vision of the world. They may not be entirely responsible for *having* that vision (the marketing industry spends 500 billion a year implanting that), but once it’s there, I’m damned sure it’s a far more powerful creator of beliefs than is the informational content of anything they read, hear, or see in “the media”.

  35. @Crispin Bennett

    When I hear the cashed-up bogans next door dismiss climate change as a con from the comfort of their lavishly-appointed pool, I don’t think I’m hearing the consequences of a paucity of accurate information. I’m hearing people believing what suits their current vision of the world.

    Doubtless that’s true. Cognitive dissonance is a common human attribute. Of course, they are still placing far more emphasis on their short term interests over their medium and long term ones, and trading their possibility of connection with others for the accoutrements of middle class existence. They may well be bankrupt of fighting over the loot in five years’ time* and it’s unlikely that climate change is the only matter on which they are making this error.

    * Two separate pairs of such folk I know, who used to try lecturing me as ‘puritanical’ wound up this way. One pair was suckered by a financial scam and lost their business and the other pair both turned out to be “playing away from home” resulting in a very messy and expensive separation which left them both seriously cash strapped but their respective lawyers much to the good. Ironically, one of the lawyers had been a respondent in one of their cases!

    There was far less hubris from the woman in the latter case next time I saw her, though I did ask how her philosophy of life was working out for her and whether she was still feeling fulfilled. She scurried away.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s