Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Great OFCOM Swindle

By now you will all have read about the official OFCOM judgement on Durkin's Swindle. Rather than rehash all the details, I will point you to here and here on the blogosphere. This is probably the best news summary and Dave Rado's article is also worth a read. The full Rado et al complaint and commentary is here and OFCOM judgement is here. (although oddly that page does not cover the judgement of "unjust or unfair treament of individuals" which is highlighted here).

Although C4 did get criticised for the unfair way it had treated Sir David King, Prof Carl Wunsch and the IPCC (and will have to publish an apology), they got off remarkably lightly on the question of "materially misleading", due to the way that OFCOM wriggled their way out of making any meaningful judgement. Because it is a "factual" programme rather than merely "news", there is no requirement of "due accuracy" on the broadcaster. The appropriate test for a breach of the code is a rather higher one, that the program must actually mislead "so as to cause harm or offence". Since the science was already settled, no-one will have believed the Swindle, and no policy decisions will be made on it, therefore there is no chance of it materially causing harm. So in summary it seems that (1) OFCOM doesn't care about the factual accuracy precisely because the program is supposedly "factual", and (2) climate science is not "a matter of political or industrial controversy or matter relating to current public policy", thus OFCOM doesn't require the presentation of it to be impartial or balanced (the economics-focussed section of the program did breach this bit of the code, however). It sort of has a valid internal logic in a smugly complacent middle-class sort of way, but leaves me wondering what OFCOM is actually for.

OTOH, in OFCOM's favour, I've not seen any evidence that the Swindle actually did help to convince anyone of anything (other than Durkin's dishonesty).


Tilo Reber said...

Well, with the moron who runs this blog making statements of this type:

"The journalist in question is well known to be a clueless twit, although it has been rumoured that his behaviour is actually an elaborate hoax designed to undermine support for the peerage."

With his own factual statements about how an individual conducts their profession, I can see why he would be so offended that someone was accused of saying that the Antarctic would be the "only" habitable place on earth when that individual had actually said that it would be the "most" habitable place on earth.

Have you lost your friggin mind Annan? Every day you move further and further from being a scientist and more and more to being a political nut case. It would be better for you to worry about the factuality of people like James (Captain Ahab) Hansen making public statements about 25 meters of sea level rise.

David B. Benson said...

Tilo Reber --- Did Hansen say 25 meters? Reference, plase, because I doubt it, unless it was in connection with a far future date under some scenario.

James Annan said...

Tilo Reber:

Go away you tedious troll. For the record, I have been openly critical of a number of climate scientists who have made unreasonably alarmist statements.

Tilo Reber said...

"Did Hansen say 25 meters? Reference, plase, because I doubt it"

Here is a link to Captain Ahab's testimony. Just search for 25 meters.


Tilo Reber said...

"I have been openly critical of a number of climate scientists who have made unreasonably alarmist statements."

Oh - can you show me one case where you called a warmer out on something as trivial as what you are trying to call Singer and Channel 4 out on?

James Annan said...


I'm sure that nothing will satisfy your definitions of "calling out" or "trivial", but you could read the Guardian article I am quoted in and blogged about here, for example. I've also been openly critical of Lovelock.

David B. Benson said...

Tilo Reber --- Do you know what "long term" means?

"56. If additional human-made global warming (above that in 2000) is so large, say 2-3°C, that the expected equilibrium (long-term) sea level rise is of the order of 25 meters, there would be the potential for a continually unfolding planetary disaster of monstrous proportions."

Tom C said...

Wow. You were "openly critical of Lovelock" on your not-so-widely-read blog. What courage. You and the crew at Realclimate are veritable scourges of those who would hype global warming.

Dave Rado said...

Tilo, are you aware of when was the last time temperatures were significantly higher than today? Do you know how many large coastal cities existed at that time? Are you aware of what the primary causes were of the temperature rises were at that time? Do you have any evidence that those primary causes are relevant today? More importantly, are you aware of when the *rate of growth* of temperature was last thought to be as fast as it is today? Are you aware of the effect on ecosystems that that rapid temperature growth is thought to have had? Or are you arguing simply because you like to argue?

Just curious.


guthrie said...

Oh Tilo, you're my hero, bravely insulting someone on his own blog!
What a man!