tip off

A new year, but the same old show

ABC’s Insiders returns to our screens this Sunday. It’s an election year and there are major policy issues to be dealt with such as the final attempt to pass an emissions trading scheme. So our national broadcaster’s flagship political discussion program should be aiming to bring us insightful, intelligent and honest analysis of the issues and the politics, right?

Insiders ABC 1 9am Sunday, on the panel The Australian’s Lenore Taylor, The Age’s Mischa Schubert and The Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt.

Yes, Insiders has booked the mainstream media’s denialist-in-chief for Episode 1. That’s Andrew “disgracefully one-sided coverage” Bolt. Andrew “I wonder if Australian viewers would like an alternative to no-argument Left politics on their televisions” Bolt.

Viewers could benefit from three commentators who can analyse and explain complex issues, give a perspective that draws on evidence, and debate the strengths and weaknesses of different political positions. Unfortunately, having one person on the panel who instead argues via talking points that are short, simple and catchy while at the same time being irrelevant, distorted or utterly wrong (e.g., “the world hasn’t warmed since 2001″) derails the whole process. The level of debate tends to come down to the lowest common denominator among the participants in that debate. And despite railing against the “mainstream media”, Andrew Bolt continues to get a gig as their Lowest Common Denominator.

Chances are I’ll do what I did many times last year – skip the show itself and follow the discussion of #insiders on Twitter. I’ve become used to seeing better intellectual arguments – including ones from a conservative perspective – from the people who weigh in about the issues raised in the show online than I have from the pundits who regularly occupy the Grumpy Chair. And if you want an example of how a nuanced, complex and yet important topic can be boiled down into five inaccurate bullet points from Andrew Bolt that distract people from the real issues, I’ve got an example over the fold.

So, Andrew Bolt has tried to attack NASA – again. This time, it’s over a fact-sheet type article titled “Is Antarctica Melting?” To bolster his claims he draws on a rebuttal of the same article from Steven Goddard (published at Bolt’s favourite source for denialist talking points, Watts Up With That). In doing so, Bolt manages to exaggerate and misrepresent not only what NASA said, but also to mangle Goddard’s own arguments. Let’s take a look.

Bolt thinks NASA’s article is both alarmist and untrue. He singles out two very brief statements for quotation:

Earth Observatory, of the pro-warmist NASA, warns that Antarctica “has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002” and that “if all of this ice melted, it would raise global sea level by about 60 meter (197 feet)”

Let’s start by putting the first quote in context:

Gravity data collected from space using NASA’s Grace satellite show that Antarctica has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002. The latest data reveal that Antarctica is losing ice at an accelerating rate, too. How is it possible for surface melting to decrease, but for the continent to lose mass anyway? The answer boils down to the fact that ice can flow without melting.

So they’re pointing to a specific data source giving them that figure, and the article explains that other types of measures may not pick up the same thing.

Now, the second quote:

Two-thirds of Antarctica is a high, cold desert. Known as East Antarctica, this section has an average altitude of about 2 kilometer (1.2 miles), higher than the American Colorado Plateau. There is a continent about the size of Australia underneath all this ice; the ice sheet sitting on top averages at a little over 2 kilometer (1.2 miles) thick. If all of this ice melted, it would raise global sea level by about 60 meter (197 feet). But little, if any, surface warming is occurring over East Antarctica. Radar and laser-based satellite data show a little mass loss at the edges of East Antarctica, which is being partly offset by accumulation of snow in the interior, although a very recent result from the NASA/German Aerospace Center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) suggests that since 2006 there has been more ice loss from East Antarctica than previously thought 5. Overall, not much is going on in East Antarctica — yet.

So, they acknowledge that historically there has been very little change in temperature or ice levels in East Antarctica, and the “if all of this ice melted” statement follows after a description of the size of the ice sheet and helps to illustrate just how much ice they are talking about. But they acknowledge that at this stage nothing much is happening.

Now that you’ve looked at a couple of complete paragraphs containing complete sentences that explain things, are you scared by those statements? Do you feel like NASA wanted us to believe that sea levels are about to rise by 60 metres? Because Andrew finds himself asking:

Now, why would you scare folks so …

Then Andrew produces his list of bullet points (supposedly from Goddard) that refute NASA’s warmist-alarmist claims. Let’s take them one at a time and compare what Andrew claims to what others have said, or what the evidence shows:

  • Satellite data shows Antarctica cooling, not warming.

Goddard said:

But even more problematic is that UAH satellite data shows no increase in temperatures in Antarctica, rather a small decline.

Words like “small” aren’t relevant for Andrew – not when it comes to cooling, anyway. Increases in temperature need to be significant to be meaningful, of course. But even Goddard’s claim is pretty tenuous when you see just how small that decline has been:

uah_antarctic_temps

Perhaps someone used a trick to hide it.

Bolt’s next claim:

  • Antarctic sea ice has expanded over the past three decades, not shrunk.

This is a classic furphy of Bolt’s – he addresses claims about the ice sheet on the Antarctic continent by pointing to the increase in sea ice. In fact, NASA’s article acknowledged exactly what Bolt used in rebuttal:

One new paper 1, which states there’s less surface melting recently than in past years, has been cited as “proof” that there’s no global warming. Other evidence that the amount of sea ice around Antarctica seems to be increasing slightly 2-4 is being used in the same way. But both of these data points are misleading.

Misleading? No kidding.

In making that claim, Bolt also includes a hyperlink to this site – which is puzzling, since it’s about Arctic climate and the only links on that page relating to Antarctica on that page relate to temperature and not sea ice extent. But still, to readers who don’t bother clicking through the link it might look like Bolt has provided actual evidence.

Bolt’s third claim:

  • At even NASA’s claimed rate of melting, it would take 300,000 years for that Antarctic ice to melt.

Goddard did the calculations for this one – Andrew doesn’t do his own sums, perhaps because of that fear he has about calculators being put in uncomfortable places. But it’s based on the misrepresentation that NASA was saying “OMG teh ice is all melting! Run for your lives!!1!”, which clearly isn’t the case when you look at the entire paragraph quoted above. But it’s also flawed because it assumes a linear rate – the one note of warning NASA actually does sound is this:

Isabella Velicogna of JPL and the University of California, Irvine, uses Grace data to weigh the Antarctic ice sheet from space. Her work shows that the ice sheet is not only losing mass, but it is losing mass at an accelerating rate. “The important message is that it is not a linear trend. A linear trend means you have the same mass loss every year. The fact that it’s above linear, this is the important idea, that ice loss is increasing with time,” she says. And she points out that it isn’t just the Grace data that show accelerating loss; the radar data do, too. “It isn’t just one type of measurement. It’s a series of independent measurements that are giving the same results, which makes it more robust.”

So both the logic and the maths Bolt relied on turn out to be flawed.

Bolt’s fourth claim:

  • At the rate of sea level rise measured over the past century, it will take more than 18,000 years for the seas to rise 60 metres.

Again, Goddard did the heavy lifting. But I’m not sure what this point has to do with anything in the NASA article.

And finally, Bolt claims:

  • In fact, the seas have not risen for nearly four years

This is up there with Bolt’s claim last year that “Arctic sea ice is recovering” because 2009 was the third-lowest year on record. Linear trends over longer recording periods are ignored and the short-term pattern most convenient to his argument is stated as fact. Here’s the graph that Bolt himself uses as evidence that sea levels are not rising:

sl_noib_global_sm

Goddard wasn’t silly enough to make that claim. In fact, the linear trend in that data set is what Goddard used to calculate how long it would take for sea levels to rise 60m. But Bolt can’t even make sure the claims he makes in a single post are logically consistent with each other.

So there it is. NASA’s Earth Observatory publishes an examination of data about Antarctic loss of ice mass. Andrew Bolt grabs a couple of fragments that make it sound like NASA was forecasting imminent doom, coats them with a generous serving of pseudoscience, irrelevant “evidence” and dodgy reasoning, and all his readers end up seeing is five bullet points that make no intellectual contribution to understanding the original question – “Is Antarctica melting?” Yet he is given prominent exposure on our screens, over our airwaves and in our papers to repeat these pointless statements. In a year when important decisions need to be made and votes will be cast, it’s beyond disappointing.

POSTSCRIPT: I mentioned Bolt’s reliance on short-term data to claim the long-term trend doesn’t exist. The January satellite temperature data is in, and Bolt’s line that warming has stopped since 2001 looks like it might have reached its best before date:

UAH_LT_1979_thru_Jan_10

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  • 1
    DeanL
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Well, that latest values is going to add some unwanted weight to the trend line…which is conspicuous by it’s absence.

    Dr Roy does have it on his other graph but that one doesn’t have the latest value.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH-LT-13-and-25-month-filtering.jpg

    I fancy neither graph will be getting a gig on Andy’s blog in the near future.

  • 2
    DeanL
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Conspicuous by *its* absence too…

  • 3
    Dewgong
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    No we will wait and see if Bolt bothers to publish that chart at all.

  • 4
    RobJ
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Insiders ABC 1 9am Sunday, on the panel The Australian’s Lenore Taylor, The Age’s Mischa Schubert and The Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt.

    Bugger the ABC and their pandering to the wingnuts ridiculous claims of bias! Insiders does itself no favours.

    Viewers could benefit from three commentators who can analyse and explain complex issues, give a perspective that draws on evidence, and debate the strengths and weaknesses of different political positions. Unfortunately, having one person on the panel who instead argues via talking points that are short, simple and catchy while at the same time being irrelevant, distorted or utterly wrong (e.g., “the world hasn’t warmed since 2001″) derails the whole process. The level of debate tends to come down to the lowest common denominator among the participants in that debate. And despite railing against the “mainstream media”, Andrew Bolt continues to get a gig as their Lowest Common Denominator.

    Yeah, Insiders could be good but it’s rubbish when they invite trollumnists. I won’t be watching, I’ll just read the blogs afterwards.

  • 5
    confessions
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Yet he is given prominent exposure on our screens, over our airwaves and in our papers to repeat these pointless statements.

    Only to indulge in woe-is-me handwringing about rightwing views being excluded from the MSM. I too tend not to watch when he (and Piers for that matter) are on, or I record it so I can fast forward past him and only listen to the others.

    And a nice job dismantling his denialist distortions too btw.

  • 6
    DeanL
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    In fact, the seas have not risen for nearly four years

    Such a revealing statement on Bolt’s part. Not for the science but for Bolt’s (lack of) understanding of it.

    It is clear to anyone with just a little bit of time series knowledge that Bolt is playing about in the noise and the shorter-term cycles within the longer-term trend.

    Sadly, he doesn’t understand how embarrassed he should feel.

  • 7
    DeanL
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    But even more problematic is that UAH satellite data shows no increase in temperatures in Antarctica, rather a small decline

    Science is never problematic.

    I’m not really that surprised that temperatures in Antarctica are “unexpectedly” cool.

    The polar caps are key components of the earth’s thermostatic control system. If energy and heat input at the equator is increased, it stands to reason that energy has to be removed somewhere else. I’m no expert in earth energy budget physics but I suspect these are the processes that would provide the explanation.

  • 8
    mondo rock
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Sadly, he doesn’t understand how embarrassed he should feel.

    That’s not what’s sad. What’s sad is that there appears to be nobody out there with the balls to make him feel sad.

    I don’t agree at all with this condemnation of the ABC for allowing Bolt a platform to make his case. He is entitled to make his case and he does a damn good job of it. Yes his case is dishonest and yes those who listen to him are being utterly misled by a {I’m removing those adjectives; use them to describe the message rather than the person – Tobby} commentator, but that’s just life in a big scary democracy.

    What really pisses me off is that nobody in the media appears capable of rebutting Bolt in an effective manner. Why on Earth isn’t someone on these shows prepared to simply call Bolt a liar on air? When Bolt says “the Earth hasn’t warmed since 2001″ why can’t one of the other commentators just say “That’s not true Andrew – as this Graph clearly shows” and then mock him for making such a stupid comment?

    Why does he get treated with such kid gloves when he’s wrapping barbed wire around his every time he goes out there? The problem isn’t Bolt, it’s the completely insipid response to him from people who clearly have the means and ability to take him apart publicly, but refuse to do so.

    What the F**k is wrong with the rest of our media?

  • 9
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    In making that claim, Bolt also includes a hyperlink to this site – which is puzzling, since it’s about Arctic climate and the only links on that page relating to Antarctica on that page relate to temperature and not sea ice extent. But still, to readers who don’t bother clicking through the link it might look like Bolt has provided actual evidence.

    That hyperlink was pointed out to Bolt by his own readers (well the couple who bothered to click through). I also mentioned it in the open thread. He still did nothing to change it even though the link states “Recent observed surface air temperature changes over the Arctic region are the largest in the world. Winter (DJF) rates of warming exceed 4 degrees C.”

    As for all the other global data it is looking like he is going to have to shift the goal posts again soon.

  • 10
    DeanL
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Does someone want to write to Andrew and inform him that he’s now deprived of his most oft-used anti-AGW retort?

  • 11
    Dewgong
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Does someone want to write to Andrew and inform him that he’s now deprived of his most oft-used anti-AGW retort?

    I’m pretty sure he will have either already seen that graph or he will soon enough, but don’t expect him to publish it on his blog.

  • 12
    monkeywrench
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    An excellent, clearly-put argument, Tobias, and one which Andrew Bolt either cannot or will not answer. But then, actually acknowledging the truth isn’t his strong suit, is it?

  • 13
    DeanL
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Mondo – calling Bolt a liar wouldn’t help.

    Besides, George Costanza could tell us that it’s not a lie if you really, really believe it.

    And Bolt is a believer…or a non-believer depending on which side of the fence you sit.

    Bolt is clever to make sure he’s never put in a position to be held accountable by someone that could do so. Ever seen him debate Karoly, Brooks etc? And you won’t see it either.

    Bolt is a side-lines heckler and a chicken.

    What makes me angry is that scientists spend years studying and getting professional grounding in science and are ignored in preference to someone like Bolt who has skipped all that. The arrogance and conceit of a man willing to put himself forward like Bolt does and make ill-informed judgements is what’s exasperating and breath-taking. Bolt is skating on very thin ice and I’m sure he knows that. He must go to bed each night wondering if the next day is when his house of cards will come tumbling down in an embarrassing avalanche. And it will happen.

  • 14
    RobJ
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    What really pisses me off is that nobody in the media appears capable of rebutting Bolt in an effective manner.

    Exactly, why can’t the other journos call a spade a spade? Thus what’s the point of inviting him on to spout his shit with no rebuttal? I’m not talking about gagging him, it’s a free country, I’m saying that Insiders is shit when he is on, he might get an ‘Oh Andrew’ from Annabelle Crabb and that’s it!

    Why does he get treated with such kid gloves

    Because the ABC kowtow to his shrieks of bias! This is what pisses me off (as it does you)

  • 15
    RobJ
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Bolt is clever

    That Bolt might be cleverer than his ‘rivals’ is very very sad, as mondo said – “What the Fuck is wrong with the rest of our media?”

  • 16
    confessions
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I don’t agree at all with this condemnation of the ABC

    mondo: if the ABC were a commercial network interested only in attracting eyeballs rather than delivering quality, insightful commentary, then fine, criticism of it would be unjustified. But the ABC should be above hosting shrill populists who do nothing more than parrott irrelevent talking points as Toby has said – especially for its political shows. Furthermore Insiders is supposed to be insiders, ie press gallery journos who attend QT and parliamentary sessions and can comment accurrately and from an informed perspective about the week in politics. A social commentator is of no use in this context: they may as well invite the editor of Cleo magazine to participate FFS.

  • 17
    boothbybob
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    mondo

    I guess the problem is that by engaging in public debate with him you are giving him credibility. When Fielding started showing his graph to people, Wong quite calmly said, step into my office and I’ll tell you what’s going on (even though it didn’t seem to get the message across). It took the process out of the public eye. Being a scientist, one thing we always get caught by is the “prove to me that xyz will happen 100%”. No scientist will ever swear that something is proven 100%. Then the argument becomes “ahhh, so you can’t guarantee that the earth will warm, or GM crops are safe, or that $1.4 billion equals $1400 million”. That is why the scientists do not debate these non-scientist commentators, because if the scientist is honest, he is always in a losing situation. I thought the performance of the IPCC scientist that was on lateline last night was perhaps the best I’ve seen from a scientist for a long time. I also thought that Wong finally cut through the crap as well on lateline. Finally she said that it will cost us all to cut emissions – this pussyfooting around trying to claim that people wont have to pay for it has to stop. When will someone stand up and become a Statesman or Statesperson and look to improve the country rather than just be a politician looking for re-election.

    Rant over

  • 18
    billy
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Bolt gets the gig so that the other stooges seem reasonable and sane.

  • 19
    John Reidy
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    remember the sweepstakes last year – when it was expected that the satellite data for this summer should show a clear end to the ‘cooling’ since 1998.
    There were punts as to when the deniers would recant or modify their claims.
    My guess it won’t make any difference at all, why let facts get in the way of their claims.

  • 20
    mondo rock
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    What makes me angry is that scientists spend years studying and getting professional grounding in science and are ignored in preference to someone like Bolt who has skipped all that.

    Your anger is undestandable Dean, but it is also pointless. There will always be commentators like Bolt whose superior grasp of public debate (combined with an utter ideological devotion) will enable them to make a far more persuasive case than than any boffin ever will. That’s just life – you can rail against it all we want but at some point you have to accept it and realise that you’re just howling at the moon.

    The only way to counter Bolt is to deliver an even more effective message than he does. As good as Tobias’ post here is (and it is very good) it is, what, 2,000 words long? It will NEVER cut through to the public the way Bolt cuts through.

    Bolt and Blair have given you the template for effective and entertaining posts – all you need to do is follow it: Quote, evidence proving the person quoted is an idiot, then mockery and repeat (and repeat, and repeat, and repeat). That’s all there is to it. This post could have been broken up into three of four shorter, punchier posts; none of which would have been as intellectually robust but all of which would have been more effective.

    I feel like I’m watching the class nerds get punched out by the bullies only to retaliate by retreating to the science lab and writing essays on why violence is no way to solve problems.

    I’m removing those adjectives; use them to describe the message rather than the person – Tobby

    FFS. If we don’t start punching back we – will – lose – this – debate.

  • 21
    mondo rock
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    But the ABC should be above hosting shrill populists who do nothing more than parrott irrelevent talking points as Toby has said – especially for its political shows.

    Bollocks.

    Who decides whether someone is a “shrill populist” confessions? You? The ABC? Censoring a guy because you don’t like what he has to say is an intellectual surrender that the public can smell a mile away.

    And it doesn’t even matter if he is a shrill populist – he’s effective at forcing his way into these debates and that’s all there is to it. Bolt exists and we have to deal with him. Simply insisting that we shouldn’t have to is utterly pointless – particularly while he’s merrily out there smashing our message on AGW to pieces and doing a damn fine job of it.

  • 22
    Gibbot
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    My liver can’t handle the amount of shots that will be required for Insiders, so I drew up a f-wit bingo card for something different.

    4 in a row in any direction = standard bingo (one shot)
    4 in a row in one sentence = f-wit bingo (double shot).
    The whole card = super f-wit bingo (you win a calculator and a romantic dinner for two with our hero.

  • 23
    Johnny Come Lately
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    mondo @ 20/21

    Spot on. Initially, the science was ‘marketed’ reasonably well, however there was always going to be a backlash from powerful industry groups, who have hijacked the MSM in order to ‘sell’ denialism. This should have been foreseen and countered more effectively.

  • 24
    Bloods05
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Bolt is clever to make sure he’s never put in a position to be held accountable by someone that could do so. Ever seen him debate Karoly, Brooks etc? And you won’t see it either.

    Not quite true – he did debate Manne publicly. Never seen him debate any other credible person though.

  • 25
    monkeywrench
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    With regard to “Insiders”, this highlights another issue that the panel never seems to tax Bolt with: the “H” [full word edited to save Tobias the time-Monkeywrench]of having a commentator who accuses them of bias. The fact that he’s on there at all seems to be a clear rebuttal of his argument, but no-one ever tells him his accusations of a pro-Rudd media are just lame propaganda. I feel like throwing the coffee mug at the telly some Sundays.

  • 26
    confessions
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    mondo @ 21:

    Censoring a guy because you don’t like what he has to say is an intellectual surrender that the public can smell a mile away.

    I said nothing about censorship. My point is that the ABC should be presenting factual, non partisan argument, not rabid, agenda driven propaganda such that we see from shrill populists. And it’s Piers as well, he’s just as bad.

    he’s effective at forcing his way into these debates and that’s all there is to it.

    Well then, let’s just roll up the white flag and hand over the ABC to the wingnut faction shall we? Honestly mondo, what a defeatist attitude!

    The very reason why he’s been able to “force his way into these debates” at the ABC is because he whinges so much about a supposed leftwing bias at the broadcaster. The answer isn’t to have him on shows such as Insiders, but people of his political affiliation who don’t drag the debate down to the lowest common denominator. And at this point I’ll note that at least Gerard Henderson, while indulging in woe-is-meism and conspiracy theories with Nancy, at least is insightful and informative when he’s on Insiders.

    but no-one ever tells him his accusations of a pro-Rudd media are just lame propaganda.

    If I had to guess I’d be inclined to say it’s probably because his agent has briefed the producers that there are certain things that can’t be said about him on the shows he appears on. ;)

  • 27
    bertus
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Another thing is – they rarely put anyone up against Bolt who’ll have a go at him.

    Have a look at the Insiders columnists again – two moderate females; and The Grizzly Baar. I think the Guv needs to have a clean-out of the ABC, I think there are little utegate Ratty clones in there.

  • 28
    mondo rock
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I said nothing about censorship.

    Confessions – you quite clearly implied that someone should review Bolt’s work, judge it to be of insufficient quality to merit airing on the public broadcaster, and therefore refuse to broadcast it.

    You may be able to present a semantic distinction between this and censorship, and I won’t dispute you on that, but there is little difference in practice. The bottom line is that your preferred method of dealing with Bolt’s narrative is to try to minimise the public’s exposure to it.

    You won’t win that fight in the current hysterical environment of ‘left-wing media bias’. To be honest, it’s already lost.

    Well then, let’s just roll up the white flag and hand over the ABC to the wingnut faction shall we?

    Hmph – a straw man argument that I clearly did not make.

    I’ll say it again confessions – Bolt is on the telly. He’s on Insiders, he’s on the 7pm project – his message is getting out. We can start formulating effective strategies for countering his message with our own, or we can whine about the fact he’s on telly (thus giving him an even greater platform to screech about left-wing bias).

    You’re a smart person – surely you can see which of the above is a more productive use of your time.

  • 29
    bertus
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Ok it wasn’t “another thing” – should’ve read the comments first.

    Monkeywrench, it’s not so easy to break the true facts down into neat soundbites. That’s the advantage the propagandists and bullshit artists always have: it’s far easier to package b/s.

    Also, apart from Bolt, Aker et al, the Abotts, Joyces and Minchins have a certain fool’s freedom connected with being in Opposition. They’re not responsible, none of this is their fault; so they can just bellow crap from the sidelines like the spoilt private schoolboys they all are.

  • 30
    Johnny Come Lately
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Tobby re postscript, you didn’t use the running 49 month average silly.

  • 31
    confessions
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    mondo: what is wrong with insisting the ABC produce non-partisan, factual information instead of highly partisan agenda driven bullshit? That is not about censorship, but about quality – a baseline standard any public broadcaster should be required to uphold. It is not a semantic distinction at all, but insisting on the same standards that the rightards continue to demand of it. We’ve had this discussion many times here: in it’s quest for ‘balance’, the ABC has extended it’s reach to the tabloid shock-jocks who simply aren’t interested in, or incapable of factual non-partisan discussion.

    And I’m pleased you’ve mentioned all those other shows because it demonstrates quite aptly that there are far more appropriate vehicles for populist distortions than the ABC. Public broadcasters should uphold journalistic standards of non-partisan political debate, leave the other stuff to the tabloids and the commercial media.

  • 32
    mondo rock
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Monkeywrench, it’s not so easy to break the true facts down into neat soundbites.

    I think you meant to say that to me bertus.

    And I couldn’t disagree more. Countering Bolt merely requires snappy, well phrased and aggressive commentary. Tobias scored multiple points against Bolt in the article above, all of which deserved their own short post with a nice offensive ending.

  • 33
    mondo rock
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    mondo: what is wrong with insisting the ABC produce non-partisan, factual information instead of highly partisan agenda driven bullshit?

    Confessions – do you realise that this is the exact complaint that Andrew Bolt makes every single day? The only difference between your two positions is a disagreement about what is ‘non-partisan and factual’.

    You have a viewpoint and you believe it is the truth (I also believe it BTW) but you must recognise that this is nothing more than our opinion. We are not ‘correct by definition’ and we do not get to dictate what is and isn’t appropriate content for the ABC’s news and current affairs shows. I have no doubt of your ability to construct persuasive argument justifying why your views are more valid than others – I’ve seen you do it in fact – but in the forum of public opinion this is a profoundly dangerous exercise.

    Anyway this is all irrelevant because you’re still avoiding the central truth here – which is that while you’re wasting your time arguing about what the public should be allowed to see on the ABC, Bolt is actually on the ABC making mincemeat out of the AGW cause.

    How much longer are you going to pursue this pointless exercise?

  • 34
    Mr. Peabody
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Andrew favorite graph shows an increase in temperature. Does he say OMG I was wrong the world really is warming or does he discredit his favourite graph?

    Sorry no prizes for the bleeding obvious.

  • 35
    confessions
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Confessions – do you realise that this is the exact complaint that Andrew Bolt makes every single day? The only difference between your two positions is a disagreement about what is ‘non-partisan and factual’.

    Yes mondo, I’m well aware of that. As to the disagreement about what is non partisan and factual, these can be measured simply and objectively. Read columns by Lenore Taylor, George M, Brian Toohey and you have no idea which political party they lean towards, much less see anything written by them which could be construed as stumping for one side of policits over the other. The same cannot be said for Bolt or Piers, which should immediately disqualify their appearance on a national broadcaster on the basis that we the viewers cannot be certain that their views aren’t motiviated by base political agenda. That is a very difficult claim for them to counter, given the stuff they write on a daily basis.

    It’s not about them, even though it is certain their woe-is-meism will lead them to conclude that it is. Sometimes people have to be treated like adults, however much they want to continue to act like children.

    As for factual information, geez mondo, the offerings are virtually endless! I’m actually waiting for the day that Bolt is sued by one of the scientists he regularly attacks: how can he possibly show his comments aren’t defamatory when he has no technical expertise or even training in the field of science for which he uses as a basis to attack the credibility of certain researchers? Maybe that might bring more circumspection to AGW commentary in the tabloids.

  • 36
    Ian Bryant
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    So Bolt makes mincemeat out of the AGW cause does he? It seem really strange to me that right wingers would latch on to Bolt as their saviour. It’s a bit like relying on Pauline Hanson for your immigration policy. Surely these people have brains and can analyse an argument???

  • 37
    Pedro
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    “My point is that the ABC should be presenting factual, non partisan argument…”

    In other words, the left point of view only.

    That aside, confessions, I hope the return of Insiders signals a return of your “I Demand You Dump Bolt and Ackerman From MY ABC” letter-writing campaign. I do enjoy writing and telling “MY” ABC how much I appreciate their appearances!

  • 38
    zac spitzer
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Is Bolt there to put forward his own opinion or analysis?

    http://www.abc.net.au/corp/pubs/documents/200912_Differentiating_analysis_Guidance_Note.pdf

    “The ABC Editorial Policies assume that analysis can be distinguished from opinion”

  • 39
    PeeBee
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Pedro,

    Did you read the post above? If so, how do you feel about Bolt misrepresenting the data?

    My guess is that you will find it acceptable, either because any falsehood that undermines AGW is good or you don’t understand what is explained to you.

  • 40
    confessions
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    zac spitzer: thanks for the link. Based on that I think it’s fair to assume that our friend ticks the boxes “carries the name of author”, and “based on information that can be verified” – when you do verify the information, what he’s produced is invariably wrong. lol.

    So it isn’t anaylsis that he brings to Insiders but opinion, in which case it shouldn’t qualify and the producers should find an alternate guest who meets more of the criteria.

  • 41
    Pedro
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    “So it isn’t anaylsis that he brings to Insiders but opinion, in which case it shouldn’t qualify and the producers should find an alternate guest who meets more of the criteria.”

    Good grief, Confessions. Apart from the Cassidy interview at the beginning, Insiders IS an opinion program. And given you seem to spend your days glued to the television, I’da thought you would have figured out by now that guest panels = OPINION, whether the panel is sitting around a make-shift desk or sitting on comfy couches. In fact, comfy couches outright SCREAM opinion.

    At least the highlight in this, knowing this year you will be taping Insiders to skip through the Bolt/Akerman bits, is I won’t have to wade through the “shrill” screed that emanates from this blog starting at exactly 10am on Sunday morning and continues right through to about Tuesday lunchtime once the outraged letter to the ABC has been fully thesaurised and fired off to the ABC. And everyone else has been instructed to do likewise.

    Peebee. Care to be a little specific as to WHICH post you are talking about??

  • 42
    PeeBee
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I am referring to Tobais’s post called ‘A new year, but the same old show’ start reading from paragraph 5 which starts with ‘So, Andrew Bolt has tried to attack NASA – again.’

    Is that specific enough?

  • 43
    BoldenwAter
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for that pedro.
    You provide a clear example of why you cannot debate the retards of the right.

    Because you cant argue with idiots, you cant expect them to understand reason.
    This post provides a clear analysis and example of how bolt fraudulently represents scientific findings.But instead of using his brain pedro comes on here and tells us all how he writes to the ABC to ask for more of the same.
    He cannot justify what bolt has done, he cannot fault the analysis, he can just pop in and ask for more even when his hero is serving him up a misrepresentation of what was written.

    On a separate point the message to sell is not that hard.
    Here is a good example of it from a post on the drum earlier today

    That carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas is unquestioned. That the earth’s climate is warming is unquestioned. Certainly there is uncertainty about exactly what sort of devastation that will cause. And so should there be. But to continue business as usual just because it will cost us all a little money is to gamble with your own children’s future. That is what Abbott is asking us to do and that is stupid.

    Simply repeat this line over and over.
    To gamble with your children’s future is stupid.
    To gamble with your children’s future is stupid.
    To gamble with your children’s future is stupid.
    And bolt makes me sick. He understands enough to cherry pick data to support his argument. Why does he argue so? Does he love money more than his children?
    Why would anyone do that?

  • 44
    Pedro
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    PeeBee: “Is that specific enough?”.

    It certainly helps. Now perhaps you can help me.

    What on earth have I said that actually requires me to comment on Bolt’s attacks on NASA????

  • 45
    confessions
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Confessions – do you realise that this is the exact complaint...

    Actually mondo I’ve reflected on this and now don’t agree with your statement. What they argue is that their opinion be heard simply because they want their own special brand of insight covered on the public broadcaster, irrespective of how many other avenues they are given to spout their idiocies. They have waged an idealogical war against ABC with no factual basis for their complaint whatsoever (as proven by countless inquiries at the behest of Howard), and it’s now time that war stop so the broadcaster can return to the days of non partisan opinion and analysis.

    I would argue that a public broadcaster which relies on public funds will never have the resources to give equal attention to the full spectrum of opinion in this country, from the irrational to the informed to the mainstream to the fringe delusionists, and nor should it. We have a variety of media outlets which serve different purposes and target both generalised and niche audiences. For every fringe delusionist like Monckton who appears on ABC means resources drawn away from bringing quality and insightful opinion to viewers, when Monckton is probably better suited to being heard somewhere like Alan Jones. The standard of quality, informed, accurrate and insightful commentary should be the basis for *all* the ABC’s political shows, with the exception perhaps of Q&A which is more audience driven.

    In fact it is especially important that political shows not be polluted by idealogues waging their own culture wars with their own agenda – leave that to the tabloids and the angry old men on shock radio. This is the very least the taxpayers deserve. And again: if Murdoch’s myth makers at the tabloids don’t like that, then tough. They need to start acting like adults instead of crying like whingeing children and imagining all manner of horrific conspiracies concocted against them. And start producing FACTUAL commentary instead of the guff we see from them every day.

  • 46
    PeeBee
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Pedro you have said nothing, that is why I like to hear you comments.

  • 47
    Pedro
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Political shows “polluted”??? “Idealogues” waging war???

    Holy wow!

    You really don’t understand the idea of balance do you, confessions? And you specifically don’t seem to get the idea that the ABC was not designed to suit just YOU.

    Let’s use one of your sentences, from my point of view – a tax-paying citizen of this country who also “deserves” to be heard:

    “For every fringe delusionist like George Negus who appears on ABC means resources drawn away from bringing quality and insightful opinion to viewers…”

    I’d never come out with a statement like that because I don’t have a problem with opposing views to mine. I am happy to debate them, but I certainly do not believe they should be shut down and shut up.

    On the other hand, it’s quite disturbing to see the way you think.

  • 48
    confessions
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Boldenwater @ 43:

    On a separate point the message to sell is not that hard.
    Here is a good example of it from a post on the drum earlier today

    Actually the message is even simpler than that. From Readfern’s farewell blog post (paraphrased by me):

    Neither {monkton or plimer} have published a single peer-reviewed article on anthropogenic climate change and every science academy in the world disagrees with the thrust of their argument. Their errors are continually pointed out from credible scientists, but they repeat those errors, ad nauseam.

    If people choose to buy their climate science from non-qualified sources continually shown to be incorrect, then that’s their choice.

    Same goes for social commentators. And if it’s ok for social commentators to get their viewpoint on a national political analysis show, then let’s hear from the Editor of Cleo magazine!

  • 49
    Pedro
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Got to laugh at this place sometimes.

    PeeBee demands I remark on what Bolt thinks of NASA and Boldenwater would like to thank me for providing a “clear example of why you cannot debate the RETARDS of the right” simply because I defended Bolt’s right to appear on a tax-payer funded tv program in a post titled “A new year, but the same show”.

    (By the way. Nice language you got going there, Boldenwater.)

  • 50
    PeeBee
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Great finish to the 20-twenty – Australia by 3 runs.

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