Herald Sun Journalist Jill Singer calls for “sceptics” to apologise

The Herald Sun (HUN) is not normally a paper friendly to science -  especially climate science.  

Being the home of one of Australia’s most prominent deniers – Andrew Bolt – is a serious blight on the papers credibility. However occasionally the HUN gets it right… 

An article in today’s HUN by journalist Jill Singer suggests sceptics of climate change start apologising for the fact they are wrong:

Climategate, you might recall,centred on emails hacked from the Climate Research Unit at the UK’s University of East Anglia.

But the BBC has been forced to apologise to the university researchers for wrongly claiming they had exaggerated the extent of the threat of global warming.

And there are still many, many more in the media who are well overdue in saying sorry for getting it wrong.

I’ve made the same call, suggesting Andrew Bolt retract statements made in relation to “Climategate”.

Of course the deniers won’t back down that quickly. They’ve spent years denying reality - a hard habit to break, as the comments section demonstrates. It is littered with the usual detritus of half-truths and ad hominem attacks that the small, but vocal army of climate “sceptics” pollute the public space with.  

Says commentator Wazza of Melbourne:

How do you fight climate change, it happens every day Jill, its called nature, now if you are talking about another stupid term global warming, well I hope that is happening, as you will soon not want a mini ice age coming along, but don’t worry, if you had any brains you would know that climate is regulated by cold water currents coming down from north to the equator, but I probably wouldn’t dare think you have even looked at this side of things, and also there are things called erupting volcanoes, sun activity,and a little fraction of human contribution to weather changes, well I better rug up now, and wait for the so called heat waves that will hit us or maybe that snappy cold front we are feeling, oh yes it must be climate change!

Goodness me, the usual tired parade of arguments.

Macca of Melbourne gives us his wisdom:

What rubbish you write! All these weather conditions have occurred before and even at the same time in various parts of the world. You are an alarmist, a peddler of misinformation. This is a cyclic occurrence and the fact is this also happened around 100 years ago in Russia. So was that global warming too or cyclic? By the way the temperatures were between 35 and 38 degrees, hot for Russian that’s for sure but still cyclic stuff. What is the good fight Singer? Is it your global warming religion or scientific fact? The globe has been in a cooling cycle since 2000. You are just pushing your barrow!

The climate may be changing in response to human activities, but it seems the sceptics never will.

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9 thoughts on “Herald Sun Journalist Jill Singer calls for “sceptics” to apologise

  1. Tony Sidaway says:

    The CRU was correctly criticised for not keeping up with, and indeed resisting, the explosion of openness that has taken place in the sciences in the part decade. But you (and Fred Pearce, the author of the Guardian article you cite) have been proven wrong. For the Guardian, George Monbiot has apologised for saying Jones should resign, and the BBC has apologised for it’s gross misrepresentation of the facts.

    You have reservations, but plainly based on slanted news reports and your own equally biased review of some emails that are obviously utterly innocent. At this point you either continue on your current track and, like the Birchers and their modern day counterparts the Truthers, the Birthers, and the Climate Change Denialists,you depart the realm of reasonable discourse,or you wake up and realise that you’ve been had, big time. Look at global average temperature trends.

  2. Eric Worrall says:

    Tony,

    From the website of the American Physical Society:

    http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/99_6.cfm

    “The success and credibility of science are anchored in the willingness of scientists to:

    1. Expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others. This requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials.
    Abandon or modify previously accepted conclusions when confronted with more complete or reliable experimental or observational evidence.

    2. Adherence to these principles provides a mechanism for self-correction that is the foundation of the credibility of science.”

    The Climategate scientists dont adhere to this simple principle. The emails showed them repeatedly discussing ways to avoid any serious scrutiny of their method and data, including finding reasons to reject or subvert freedom of information requests by skeptics who were interested in their method and data (examples available on request).

    How does this behaviour fit within the APS guidelines about credible science? What mechanism for self correction did the climate community use, in place of the self correction mechanism advocated by the APS – the mechanism of being totally open about method and data? If the Climate scientists did not employ any mechanism for self correction – and I refer you back to Phil Jones’ admission that noone ever asked him about method or data – how can we have any confidence in their research results?

  3. Tony Sidaway says:

    Eric, poring over somebody’s raw data and computer source code isn’t how science is done. Scientific papers are published every day, but most are destined for obscurity. Only over time, when results are independently replicated–different methodologies, different tools, different raw data where possible–do scientific results become mainstream. You’ve been misled by denialist liars and fools into buying a misleading understanding of how science works.

  4. Eric Worrall says:

    Tony,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias – is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.

    I suggest this also applies to people who refuse to believe that tobacco is harmful, people who refuse to believe that that evolution is real, and people who deny that Climategate has revealed some very questionable scientific practices at the heart of the Climate Science community.

    Any of the emails can be rationalized to mean something harmless, even emails which talk about inventing results.

    There are a number of Climategate emails which I could point to as evidence of ubiquitously poor scientific practice in the Climate community (the obsession with not revealing method or data which is repeatedly evidenced by emails, even to the point of discussing the illegal deletion of emails and data series), and many other examples of in my opinion anti intellectual behaviour, but I think one of the worst admissions is one Phil Jones gave after the Climategate scandal broke.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/mar/01/phil-jones-commons-emails-inquiry

    “The most startling observation came when he was asked how often scientists reviewing his papers for probity before publication asked to see details of his raw data, methodology and computer codes. “They’ve never asked,” he said.”

    In otherwords, within the Climate community, if you were one of the stars, noone challenged your work. Ever.

    If the scientific methodology employed is habitually substandard, then the results produced by the practitioners of the substandard methodology cannot be trusted.

  5. Tony Sidaway says:

    Eric, I think you’ve fallen victim to confirmation bias. There’s nothing at all wrong with the emails you cite. One is apparently a discussion of how to pre-empt premature leaks of unprocessed temperature data by computing official provisional figures and releasing them to a source that can be trusted not to misrepresent them. The other appears to be an early discussion of how to respond to inaccurate claims arising from the Soon and Balieros paper.

  6. Eric Worrall says:

    There are real areas of concern in the Climategate emails, which simply haven’t been addressed in the inquiries.

    For example:
    http://assassinationresearch.com/climategate/1/FOIA/mail/0848679780.txt

    “Remember all the fun we had last year over 1995 global temperatures, with the early release of information (via Australia), “inventing” the December monthly value, letters to Nature, etc., etc.?

    I think we should have a cunning plan about what to do this year, simply to avoid a lot of wasted time.”

    “Inventing December” might be a legitimate scientific technique, just as the CRU scientists have claimed “Mike’s Nature Trick to Hide the Decline” is legitimate, but in my opinion comments like this undermine the integrity of the Climate scientists who wrote the emails.

    In addition, the chairman of at least one of the inquiries which cleared the CRU scientists had an undeclared vested interest in the success of the alarmist Climate Change Agenda.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/24/climategate_oxburgh_globe/

    There are comments in the Climategate emails which suggest the scientists were keen to play down facts which disagreed with their alarmist hypothesis, even when such an effort was not justified by the evidence.

    For example:

    http://assassinationresearch.com/climategate/1/FOIA/mail/1054757526.txt

    “I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2000 years, rather than the usual 1000 years, addresses a good earlier point that Jonathan Overpeck made … that it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “Medieval Warm Period”, even if we don’t yet have data available that far back.”

    In summary, the inquiries have not quelled the skeptics (I admit I am one of them). If anything, the poor management of the inquiries and the hasty efforts to claim “nothing to see here” have made us even more suspicious.

  7. Nick says:

    Bolt will never apologise for demonising climate researchers.His income is to a degree dependent on his anti_AGW posture-funny,that….

    He will be able to make further hay out of being ‘attacked’ by ‘alarmist’ Singer and playing the martyr. Lord knows what the real Bolt thinks,but the public one serves his market.

  8. Unfortunately unlike a flat earth or evolution, the reality isn’t so trivial if continually ignored.
    I have to admit Mike, that I’ve taken a leaf out of your book and started going on the war-path against media and political ignorance regarding climate change and more recently all this ridiculous noise over asylum seekers.
    Cheers for the heads up on Jill’s piece BTW. I’ve left a comment in which I’ve referred to Ove’s recent piece on Climate Shifts where he discusses the climate denial prevalent in the Coalition as well as asked her paper to first address in-house denial before asking for it elsewhere (ie. Bolt).

  9. Fred Orth says:

    Seems that there are those who will always mentally block out any facts that contradict their held beliefs. It’s a very sad reality. Same thing happened when the long held assumption was that the earth was flat. Not even Columbus changed their minds.

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