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← BBC gives too much weight to fringe views on issues such as climate change

BBC gives too much weight to fringe views on issues such as climate change - Comments

stuhillman's Avatar Comment 1 by stuhillman

They also give far too much time for religious programming - what about the vast majority of listeners/viewers who are not religious yet still have to pay outrageous licence fees to be preached at all the time. Yes I know you can turn it off - but what about giving a "Thought for the Day" segment to RD, DD, and Hitch?

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 13:26:30 UTC | #852175

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 2 by Stevehill

The criticism was particularly relevant to stories on issues such as global warming, GM and the MMR vaccine, where minority views were sometimes given equal weighting to broad scientific consensus, creating what the report describes as "false balance".

Whereas atheists and humanists etc are banned from giving any balance to the religious bullshit trotted out every single day on things like Thought For The Day...

Creating a monumental "false balance" in favour of superstition.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 13:35:27 UTC | #852179

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 3 by Alan4discussion

The review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC's coverage of science includes Prof Jones' independent assessment as well as analysis of BBC science output carried out by Imperial College London.

Here is the BBC's own report on this - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14218989

Writing in a blog, head of newsgathering Fran Unsworth said:

She said some scientific stories "should be presented as a debate purely and simply within the scientific community".

"There will be others when it is appropriate to broadcast a range of views, including some from non-experts, because science cannot be divorced from the social, political and cultural environment in which it operates," she added.

On those occasions, the BBC must explain to audiences "whether they are scientists, policy-makers, lobbyists or whether they are taking an ethical stand".

She also confirmed the creation of the role of science editor "to bring a new level of analysis to science coverage, strengthen our contacts, and help us to take an overview of our coverage".

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 13:35:32 UTC | #852180

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 4 by Neodarwinian

Look at how they are trained in university and you will see that the majority inculcate the post modern pap " no privileged narratives. " Then others want controversy regardless of balance and accuracy. Sells papers. What happened to the Woodward and Bernstein type of journalist? Must be some salvageable journalists left somewhere.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 13:35:43 UTC | #852181

Luke_B's Avatar Comment 5 by Luke_B

Funny angle to take. Mostly the rpeort was quite praising of their efforts. Funny that the Guardian focused on one of the few criticisms.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 13:36:40 UTC | #852182

hogmeal's Avatar Comment 6 by hogmeal

The BBc has seriously failed in its obligations. It seems to have adopoted a stridently impartial stance. What is now needed is a balanced compromise between impartiality on the one hand and partiality on the other.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 13:38:28 UTC | #852185

foundationist's Avatar Comment 7 by foundationist

Comment 5 by Luke_B :

Funny angle to take. Mostly the rpeort was quite praising of their efforts. Funny that the Guardian focused on one of the few criticisms.

I noticed that too, but then I realized that the author just had a very subtle and hillarious sense for ironic self-referential spoofs. He sure got me!

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 13:46:01 UTC | #852191

dabird's Avatar Comment 8 by dabird

Just to be balanced, let's have the BBC's take on the same report:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14218989

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 14:24:04 UTC | #852207

gravematter's Avatar Comment 9 by gravematter

Yup, relativism strikes again.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 14:26:05 UTC | #852209

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 10 by Schrodinger's Cat

The BBC is biased ?? Ye Gods ! Next thing someone will be telling me the Pope is a Catholic !

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 14:28:54 UTC | #852211

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 11 by DavidMcC

Comment 6 by hogmeal :

The BBc has seriously failed in its obligations. It seems to have adopoted a stridently impartial stance. What is now needed is a balanced compromise between impartiality on the one hand and partiality on the other.

R-i-g-h-t! You mean they should be only partially impartial (or should it be impartially partial?) :)

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 14:31:09 UTC | #852212

AsylumWarden's Avatar Comment 12 by AsylumWarden

Whilst this is a welcome step in the right direction as far as making science properly represented goes, I have to echo other sentiments on here and note that there is, of course, no mention of religious people being told to shove off if their viewpoints go against what the evidence clearly points to.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 15:36:36 UTC | #852230

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 13 by Stafford Gordon

This is aimed fairly and squarely at the BBC's willingness to grant equal air time to those qualified to pronounce on matters such as global warming, and denyers of anthropogenic climate change such as Nigel Lawson.

Could someone please inform me as to where the afore mentioned Lord read Physics, and whether or not he gained a first?

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 16:52:47 UTC | #852258

The Plc's Avatar Comment 14 by The Plc

The report will disappoint some climate change sceptics who hoped it would find the BBC at fault for promoting a green agenda. "There is a consensus in the scientific community that anthropogenic climate change exists," Jones said. By failing to move the debate on, the BBC was missing other stories, he added.

Why defame the noble term of 'sceptic' by associating it with climate change denialist cranks?

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 17:10:10 UTC | #852261

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 15 by Alan4discussion

As I linked @3 and Comment 8 by dabird pointed out, there is a BBC report on this which is understandably more complimentary in parts. There were criticisms made howerver:

"Equality of voice calls for a match of scientists, not with politicians or activists, but with those qualified to take a knowledgeable, albeit perhaps divergent view of research," he said.

The report said that, when opposite views were deemed appropriate, the BBC "must clearly communicate the degree of credibility the view carries".

It also found that the links between science programme-makers across the BBC was "underdeveloped, meaning that internal expertise is not sufficiently exploited".

And it said the range of sources for stories was too narrow and overly-reliant on press releases.

But also offered praise:

The report praised "a thriving and improving genre of programming which is well established across a wide range of BBC services".

Its accuracy was "exemplary", it added.

It also found that one in four broadcast news items was science-related with BBC One's Panorama and Radio 4's Today programme providing particularly strong output.

But it found that, where there was consensus on scientific matters, providing an opposite view without consideration of "due weight" could lead to a "false balance".

While the BBC is not as bad as some media, Giving equal weight to scientists views and the conspiracy theories of the village idiot, is simply not acceptable.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 17:56:44 UTC | #852277

gordon's Avatar Comment 16 by gordon

Alan, the village idiots hold power in most countries and societies.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 18:01:47 UTC | #852280

rocket888's Avatar Comment 17 by rocket888

The first human who lit a fire was involved in anthropogenic climate change. The issue to skeptics is how much change is due to humans and how much is from other causes.

The history of science is loaded with cases where the "consensus" had it wrong. Since when is science a democratic process?

The whole climate change thing has become so muddled and corrupted by politics and religious fervor that it's more likely that we'll find the truth to the Kennedy assassination than that we'll know for certain what are the real causes of climate change over a short period of time.

And when governments get involved, forget about it. The other day the US government actually proposed a 75 year plan to put make their social security system solvent. And the head of the world's most powerful central bank said that people only hold onto gold out of tradition - that there's nothing to fear about a country that magically creates trillions of dollars and believes this will solve its economic problems.

Now mix this up with scientists who only get funded by these same idiots, are you telling me that there's no hanky panky going on? It is well known that if you want to get a project funded in the US all you have to do is add something about climate change in your proposal - and they'll print up a few million for ya.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 18:03:14 UTC | #852282

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 18 by Mr DArcy

I must admit, since I stopped reading New Scientist, I get most of my science knowledge from the beeb site, plus of course links given here, Richard's books, other books and other web sites. Having read Ben Goldacre's book Bad Science, I'm canny enough to avoid the sort of "Bacon Causes Cancer" type headline in the daily press. These headline articles are usually written by arts graduates and not science correspondents.

I would say that you get better science from the beeb than say Fox News. I'm sure Richard said somewhere, science is better than the weirdest fiction. I'd rather read about quarks than celebrities anyday.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 18:05:16 UTC | #852283

JuJu's Avatar Comment 19 by JuJu

Comment 17 by rocket888

The issue to skeptics is how much change is due to humans and how much is from other causes.

Let me fix that for you:

The issue for CLIMATE SCIENTIST is how much is due to humans and how much is from other causes.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 18:23:34 UTC | #852287

gordon's Avatar Comment 20 by gordon

rocket888

For goodness sake, have you not realised yet, the scientists are the skeptics. Others have vested interests. I give up.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 18:28:26 UTC | #852289

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 21 by Stafford Gordon

Further to my last, I recommend Steve Jones's "The Language of the Genes". it's a very witty and wide rangeing book.

Steve Jones seems to be some what overlooked as an expositor of science; maybe because of R D, who's no slouch of course?

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 18:51:04 UTC | #852299

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 22 by Alan4discussion

Comment 17 by rocket888

Amazing!!! All the comments and information linked on this thread and still in denial!! http://richarddawkins.net/articles/642177-global-temperatures-were-seventh-warmest-on-record-for-june

You could beat Flamenco Dave's record! I quoted him over 2000 peer reviewed studies on ice caps and figures for billions of tons of burnt carbon, and he's still in denial too!

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 19:05:38 UTC | #852304

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 23 by MilitantNonStampCollector

Comment 14 by The Plc :

The report will disappoint some climate change sceptics who hoped it would find the BBC at fault for promoting a green agenda. "There is a consensus in the scientific community that anthropogenic climate change exists," Jones said. By failing to move the debate on, the BBC was missing other stories, he added.

Why defame the noble term of 'sceptic' by associating it with climate change denialist cranks?


Excellent point. It's an insult to skeptics to call these deniers 'skeptics' They don't have the intellectual honesty required or the respect for evidence which scientifically literate skeptics thrive on.

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 20:44:20 UTC | #852344

AsylumWarden's Avatar Comment 24 by AsylumWarden

The first human who lit a fire was involved in anthropogenic climate change. The issue to skeptics is how much change is due to humans and how much is from other causes. >

Being a Green/Environmental Chemist, I'm so sick of this, so I'll simply sum it up:

Temperatures are rising. Gases shown to emit heat from IR radiation are being emitted anthropogenically at an increasing rate. Gases that cool the atmosphere are not being emitted as much (and being that they include SO2, we want it to stay that way - a typical climate change denier's tactic is to show that the temp rise and greenhouse gase emission profiles don't match up, conveniently neglecting cooling gas contributions. Incidentally, isn't it funny how every time you find a denier, they always seem to have some vested interest in it not wanting to be true). Do the maths. Yes, there are factors such as solar radiation and that atmospheric temp rises and falls naturally over time anyway - on a general trend - but crucially, the current one is up. Much faster up than any other in history. Every time the temp hits a peak it falls. Dramatically - cue Ice Ages. This, we do not want.

Hence, even if climate change is not our fault - key part - IT'S STILL OUR FREAKING PROBLEM!!! Hence anything we can do to slow down, or control it is absolutely necessary. Throw in the fact that human population is increasing whilst global resources are not and it becomes even more of a messy subject. Reducing emissions, waste, using green alternatives, increasing efficiency of processes and utilising resources all go hand in hand for sustainability. Even without climate change, this would be crucial. Look at it this way, stopping climate change can simply be seen as a convenient bonus if you really want to deny it that much!

Saying 'We want more proof that it's our fault before we'll act.'? Would you do that if a car that wasn't properly parked was hurtling down a hill towards you? Whoever let the handbrake off is unimportant - get out of the way before you get crushed!!!

/rant over

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 20:52:39 UTC | #852348

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 25 by Alan4discussion

Comment 24 by AsylumWarden

Do the maths. Yes, there are factors such as solar radiation

They can't do the maths because every time I ask them to list the subject areas where they need to collect the data for the calculation they don't know what they are!

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 21:28:52 UTC | #852362

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 26 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Thu, 21 Jul 2011 22:30:54 UTC | #852380

Pitchguest's Avatar Comment 27 by Pitchguest

Comment 10 by Schrodinger's Cat

The BBC is biased ?? Ye Gods ! Next thing someone will be telling me the Pope is a Catholic !

A quote from the article:

The BBC is to revamp its science coverage after an independent review highlighted weaknesses and concluded that journalists boosted the apparent controversy of scientific news stories such as climate change, GM crops and the MMR vaccine by giving too much weight to fringe scientific viewpoints.

It continues:

Commissioned last year to assess impartiality and accuracy in BBC science coverage across television, radio and the internet, the review said the network was at times so determined to be impartial that it put fringe views on a par with well-established fact: a strategy that made some scientific debates appear more controversial than they were.

so determined to be impartial

impartial

So you fail in comprehension and reading now, do you, Schrodinger?

Fri, 22 Jul 2011 00:11:48 UTC | #852416

rjohn19's Avatar Comment 28 by rjohn19

Let's remember, even the BBC has to compete with Murdock. Pander to your audience or lose them.

Fri, 22 Jul 2011 04:07:08 UTC | #852454

Roedy's Avatar Comment 29 by Roedy

Journalists foolishly think "balanced" means finding a kook to counter a lecture on consensus science.

Any time I did a lecture on some aspect of homosexuality or euthanasia, journalists insisted on inviting a rabid fundamentalist to disrupt all serious discussion. The way I see it they are irrelevant. They don't have "standing".

To handle this properly, a panel should represent a sampling of views depending on how widely they are held by people willing to defend them with reason.

The tragedy is treating crooks/kooks/shills as having equal standing confuses the public and pollutes the public understanding of science -- in particular global warming.

Fri, 22 Jul 2011 05:25:00 UTC | #852461

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 30 by Robert Howard

Comment 28 by Rjohn19

Let's remember, even the BBC has to compete with Murdock. Pander to your audience or lose them.

Quite. The Dirty Digger is determined, phone-hacking problems notwithstanding, to make Sky News as powerful in the UK as Fox News is in the States. Rupert is on record as saying that he wants Sky News to be a "proper alternative to the BBC."

This story may be less about the BBC's 'drive for impartiality' and more to do with its having to compete in a market which offers a billion alternatives. People coming off lowbrow stuff like Strictly come Widdecombe or Richard Hammond's fat Gypsies' wedding might be more inclined to watch the following 'sciency' programme if it seems to correspond to their own view of the world, viz., "this global warming is a bunch of balls, innit?" or "I don't care what anyone says, that Derek Acorah knew that my sister Doreen had passed away".

The BBC documentary maker's brief is the same as it's always been: to inform the ill-informed. I for one don't recall seeing or hearing a single BBC science programme which concluded that global warming was a hoax or that homeopathy was a viable alternative to established medicine.

ps, I will give one million theoretical internet dollars to the first person who tells me how to start a new line on this website without there having to an effing break inbetween. Sometimes you just want to suggest a brief space between thoughts, not start an entirely new paragraph.

Fri, 22 Jul 2011 07:08:12 UTC | #852483