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Fox News Distorts Climate Science; in Other News, the Pope Is Catholic By Phil

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Author Topic: Fox News Distorts Climate Science; in Other News, the Pope Is Catholic By Phil  (Read 114 times)
Amanda Messenger
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« on: September 23, 2012, 12:39:29 am »


Fox News Distorts Climate Science; in Other News, the Pope Is Catholic

By Philip Yam | September 22, 2012 |  Comments20



Pie chart showing 93 percent misleading

For anyone with an interest in journalism, it’s no surprise that Fox News Channel and the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal lean well to the right. Editorially, these two jewels of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. have a long history of denying human-induced global warming, in keeping with certain ideological interests.

New data support the anecdotes and conventional wisdom. At a midday panel on September 21 in New York City’s Science, Industry and Business Library, the Union of Concerned Scientists released results of an analysis quantifying the media outlets’ distortions of climate science.

In the six months from February to July 2012, the UCS searched for the terms “climate change” and “global warming” during primetime Fox News Channel programs, which consist of political commentary shows such as The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity.

The UCS found that, in 37 of 40 instances, Fox News programs misled viewers about climate science—mainly, by broadly dismissing it. As an example, the UCS quotes an on-air statement from April 11, 2012: “I thought we were getting warmer. But in the ‘70s, it was, look out, we’re all going to freeze.” (The report didn’t reveal the name of the actual source.) Fox News hosts and guests also mocked and disparaged statements from scientists and drowned out genuine scientific assertions with cherry-picked data and false claims.

Pie chart showing 81 percent misleading in wall street journalThe WSJ opinion pages fared a bit better: only 81 percent of the 48 references to the climate key words were misleading, according to the UCS analysis. Such instances included a reference to climatologist James Hansen as an alarmist and an assertion that we are only in a global warming “bubble” that raises questions about the veracity of climate science and the “credibility of its advocates,” WSJ editors wrote. The few accurate statements came from readers’ letters to the editors, remarked Brenda Ekwurzel, a UCS climate scientist who presented the data at the panel. (The opinion pages are distinct from newsroom operations, which media researchers in 2010 actually found to lean left.)

You can quibble with the UCS analysis—it did not look at The New York Times or MSNBC programs such as The Rachel Maddow Show, for example. But the results stay true to past incidents, such as this doozy in which a meteorologist asserted that thermodynamics makes global warming impossible. Indeed, News Corp. goes quite far in toeing the right-wing line, so much so that it even tried to rewrite the history of the Internet to deny the U.S. government’s creation of it.

Rather than surprising, the results might be more of a disappointment—to Rupert Murdoch himself. Murdoch acknowledged in 2007 the reality of anthropogenic climate change and pledged that his company’s operations would become carbon-neutral—a goal achieved in 2011. Still, as the UCS data indicate, many of News Corp.’s most influential and powerful employees continue to perpetuate climate denialism.

Battles against antiscience are nothing new, of course. Groups that advocate scientific reasoning, such as CSICOP and the Skeptical Society, have long tried to combat paranormal and pseudoscience beliefs and claims. But the fight has been a slog. When I interviewed CSICOP founder Paul Kurtz in 1996, he said that “we thought that if you just provide information, people would reject” paranormal thinking. Clearly, that hasn’t worked. “The problem is more massive and complicated than we imagined,” he lamented.

Climate scientists face a similar challenge. As Angela Anderson, director of the UCS Climate and Energy program, stated at Friday’s panel, convincing people takes more than information. You must appeal to their values, too.

The shrill political programs on cable TV know that—I suspect that most of the 1.9 million viewers of Fox News primetime tune in to confirm their biases and bolster their belief that government and its regulations are forces for bad. The task ahead is to show that climate change is even worse—a tall order, for sure.

 
Philip YamAbout the Author: Philip Yam is the managing editor of ScientificAmerican.com. Follow on Twitter @philipyam.

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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 12:40:08 am »



http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/09/22/fox-news-distorts-climate-science/
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2012, 12:42:23 am »

A scientific theory is an idea, supported by a wealth of facts, that both describes and predicts conditions in nature. In other words, a scientific theory is the best explanation for the facts available. Scientific theories do not become facts – they explain them.

The acid test of a scientific theory is whether it can make predictions. Well – let’s look at the theory of anthropogenic global warming.

As GHGs increase in the atmosphere – global temperatures are predicted to increase – exactly what is happening. As temperatures rise – more extreme and unstable weather events occur – exactly what is happening. As CO2 increases – the oceans warm and expand – exactly what is happening. Oh – and glaciers start to melt – exactly what is happening. The Arctic ice pack decreases in extent and volume – exactly what is happening.

Al Gore did not invent Global Warming – the theory of anthropogenic climate change was advanced at the end of the 19th century by Svannte Arhenius.

A physicist from Berkeley and well known climate skeptic, Richard Muller, in a study funded by the Koch brothers – noted climate warming deniers – had this conclusion: “CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html?pagewanted=all

He audited all the data from US and British studies to come to the above conclusion.
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