Dec 14, 2018

Why Do News Outlets Bring On Non-Scientists To Argue Against Science?

Background: Examples Of How The "Fact Based" News Media Distorts Public Perception Of Truth Because Of Unusually Bad And/Or Incompetent Journalism

Daily Show brings up a valid point: Why do news outlets bring on non-scientists to argue against science? It makes no sense. Could media be treating lies as a valid point to give equal weight to in a news show?

Many years ago (May 2014) Jon Oliver brought up this same point with a graphic analysis of the situation:

Climate Change Debate: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


As Oliver explains, the only way to make the "climate change debate" accurate (if media manipulation to the debate were removed - which nowadays is only Fox) is to use representative samples rather than the tradition of using one person = one view no matter who that person is or how many credentials they lack...

He gets the three people (to represent 3% of the population) that media (fox) amplifies to pull this con.

To illustrate the dichotomy one of the non-experts who has a weird view based on no science says his view (like a religious person might argue the earth is flat when Galileo was around)...

Then Oliver turns to the EXPERTS (the professionals with degrees, who spend their lives studying this phenomenon) and gets an almost unanimous agreement that the scientific evidence for human caused climate change is very real indeed...

Clearly, media is biased towards science/facts involving climate change IN THE SAME WAY as it has been for years!

Trump Contradicts His Own Administration’s Climate Change Report | The Daily Show
Despite the Trump administration’s most recent report on man-made climate change, the president continues to deny the science behind global warming; meanwhile, cable news outlets continue to bring on non-scientists to share their personal opinions on the situation.

Note: On a news show a lady tells us 'we just had two for the coldest years' (indicating no global warming, irrespective of facts... not covered on media anyways) and adds to that, "I'm not a scientist. I look at it as a citizen".

This isn't politics. This is science. Its like getting an English teachers opinion on an engineering problem. Its stupid. Its incompetent. Its not journalism.

Examples of how this sort of misinformation spreading is an ongoing problem (particularly with CNN);

Media Matters: CNN gives former GOP Rep. Tom DeLay a platform to spread lies about climate change DeLay on the new federal climate report: “It's flawed, it's ridiculous, and frankly, embarrassing”

CNN invited long-time climate denier Tom DeLay, former Republican House majority leader, to discuss the new National Climate Assessment report, and he used the opportunity to spread lies about climate change and climate scientists.
During an interview with CNN Right Now host Brianna Keilar, DeLay lambasted the climate report, calling it “an alarmist political document” that is “nothing more than a rehash of age-old 10- to 20-year assumptions made by scientists that get paid to further the politics of global warming.” Fellow climate denier Rick Santorum was roundly mocked on social media on Sunday for making a similar point on CNN when he argued, "A lot of these scientists are driven by the money." 
DeLay said, “Climate change is caused by man -- that's not proven. There is plenty of scientists that say otherwise.” This statement falls flat in the face of the virtually unanimous established scientific consensus on climate change: 97 percent of climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that humans are causing global warming.
DeLay also spouted falsehoods regarding the level of destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey last year, which broke records by dumping more than 60 inches of rain on the Houston area. He claimed that “the only reason we had the huge flood we had was the government-run dams that failed outside of Houston.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, however, concluded that the dams did not fail. DeLay also disputed the notion that climate change was a factor in increasing the amount of rain that the hurricane dumped on Houston. But two scientific studies last year concluded that rainfall from Harvey was “significantly heavier than it would have been before the era of human-caused global warming,” as the Washington Post reported, while a third study published in May of this year reached a similar conclusion. NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory also notes that hurricane rainfall rates “will likely increase in the future due to anthropogenic warming.”
DeLay also dismissed the idea that climate change played a role in the recent California wildfires. Again, he is wrong -- numerous scientific experts agree that climate change was a factor in worsening those fires.
From the November 26 episode of CNN Right Now:


Going Deeper:

Right wing media is , of course, the source of climate science misinformation (for some reason "left wing" media doesn't challenge right wing media, just acts like its a valid point of view, even on science/fact issues);

Media Matters:Here's a textbook example of how climate misinformation spreads through right-wing media
In February of this year, the conservative British tabloid newspaper The Mail on Sunday ran a mistake-laden article that attacked climate scientists who published a paper refuting the idea of a global warming "pause." Written by reporter David Rose, the article ran under a sensationalized headline -- "Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data" -- and alleged misconduct by scientists and leaders at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Media Matters, among other outlets, swiftly debunked the story.
Now the Mail article has been more formally discredited. The Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO), an independent media regulator in the U.K., ruled that "the newspaper had failed to take care over the accuracy of the article ... and had then failed to correct ... significantly misleading statements." The Mail was required to publish IPSO's reprimand, which it did a little more than a week ago.
This episode tells us a lot about how climate denial and misinformation spread through the right-wing media ecosystem, as environmental scientist and writer Dana Nuccitelli explained in a good piece in The Guardian:
The [Mail's] attack was based on an interview with former Noaa scientist John Bates.
Essentially, Bates had expressed displeasure in the way the data from a Noaa paper had been archived at the organization. Rose and the Mail blew this minor complaint into the sensationalist claim that “world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data.” It would be hard to find a better example of fake news than this one.
Rose’s story seemed to have all the climate denial components that biased conservative media outlets crave. A lone wolf scientist whistleblowing his former colleagues with accusations of data manipulation for political purposes? Despite the glaring errors in the story that were immediately called out by climate scientists and reputable science journalists, this narrative proved irresistible to the conservative media: Breitbart, Fox News, Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, and more ran with Rose’s story. Meanwhile, legitimate news outlets like The GuardianThe Washington PostCarbon BriefE&E NewsArs TechnicaScience InsiderRealClimate, and numerous other science blogs quickly debunked Rose’s falsehoods.
Climate denier Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) further amplified the right-wing media misinformation. The House science committee, which Smith chairs, put out a press release that drew from the Mail article and provided a quote of Smith praising Bates. Smith also played up the faux scandal at a committee hearing a few days later, even though the article had been debunked by then, and soon thereafter sent a letter to NOAA's acting administrator that cited the Mail article and requested documents related to the disputed study. More from the September 25 Guardian piece:
That Smith still tried to exploit the story, that it reverberated throughout the right-wing media echo chamber, and that the Mail published it in the first place tells us a lot about the narrative this group wants to push.
Usually they get away with it. This time the Mail on Sunday’s “significantly misleading statements” were so bad that they were censured, though not before they had misinformed millions of people. However, the Ipso ruling tells us which media outlets are reliable sources on the subject of climate change. Those that blindly echoed David Rose’s misinformation are not; those that debunked the Mail on Sunday’s distortions are.
It's reassuring that IPSO did its job in this case. Unfortunately, the United States doesn't have an equivalent organization, so a number of inaccurate articles published by American outlets about Bates and the NOAA study still stand uncorrected.

This is the side whose views on climate science is considered to be on par WITH ACTUAL SCIENTISTS;

3 of the dumbest things right wingers have said;

Media Matters: The 10 most ridiculous things media figures said about climate change and the environment in 2017

8. Rush Limbaugh argued that the historic BP oil spill caused no environmental damage.

Limbaugh cited an article in the right-wing Daily Caller headlined “Bacteria Are Eating Most Of The 2010 BP Oil Spill” and concluded, “The BP spill didn’t do any environmental [damage].” The Deepwater Horizon spill, which leaked oil for 87 days, was the largest accidental spill of oil into marine waters in world history. Researchers have documented a wide array of negative environmental impacts from the disaster. For example, a 2016 study found that the BP spill may have caused irreversible damage to one of the Gulf shore’s most important ecosystems. The spill is believed to have killed tens of thousands animals in 2010, and for years afterward, dolphins and other animals in the area continued to die at higher-than-normal rates.

9. Fox News’ Jesse Watters claimed, “No one is dying from climate change.”

During a discussion about Al Gore’s warnings on climate change, Watters, a co-host of Fox News’ The Fivedeclared, “People are dying from terrorism. No one is dying from climate change.” Rush Limbaugh also made the same assertion this year. But an independent report commissioned by 20 governments in 2012 concluded that climate change already kills more people than terrorism, with an estimated 400,000 deaths linked to climate change each year.

10. Radio host Alex Jones said it was "suspicious" that Hurricane Irma came along shortly before the release of a climate disaster movie.

Jones briefly speculated about the possibility that Hurricane Irma was “geoengineered” or created by humans before stating, “Meanwhile, though, right on time with these superstorms, we have the new film Geoengineering (sic) 2017, coming soon on October 20. Oh, just a little bit more than a month or so after Irma is set to hit. Isn’t that just perfect timing? Like all these race war films they’ve been putting out. This is starting to get suspicious. Here it is, Geostorm.” The action movie Geostorm featured satellites that controlled the global climate. Jones' speculation about the film is just one of the countless conspiracy theories he has promoted over the years.

Media Matters: CNN pro-Trump flak Stephen Moore claims scientists are lying about climate change to get “really, really, really rich” Moore: "We have created a climate change industrial complex in this country, with billions and billions and billions of dollars at stake"

STEPHEN MOORE: These aren't his advisers who are putting out this report.
ERIN BURNETT (HOST): These are people who work for him --
MOORE: This is a -- no --
BURNETT: They work for him. It's the CIA, it's 13 agencies, it's all --
MOORE: Erin, we are -- what we've created -- Erin, we have created a climate change industrial complex in this country, with billions and billions and billions of dollars at stake. A lot of people are getting really, really, really rich off the climate change issue.

Media Matters: CNN keeps letting guests and paid commentators lie about climate scientists It's not true that scientists do climate research to get rich, and CNN knows it

CNN has let at least three commentators argue this week that scientists are warning the public about climate change because they're getting rich by doing so -- a ridiculous and patently false claim. CNN knows it's ridiculous and false because the network ran a fact-checking segment debunking the claim and interviewed a climate scientist who explained why it's wrong. But even that didn't stop the network from continuing to spread the lie.
To make matters worse, the three people who made this lie on CNN -- former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), and Trump-boosting economist Stephen Moore -- have themselves been the beneficiaries of fossil fuel money, but CNN failed to disclose that information.

CNN lets liars lie

Following the release of the National Climate Assessment, a major government report about the dangers that climate change poses to the U.S., CNN contributor Santorum came on State of the Union on Sunday morning to discuss it. Among other idiotic things, he said:
I think the point that Donald Trump makes is true, which is -- look, if there was no climate change, we'd have a lot of scientists looking for work. The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive, and of course they don't receive money from corporations and Exxon and the like. Why? Because they're not allowed to because it's tainted. But they can receive it from people who support their agenda, and that, I believe, is what's really going on here.
Santorum's comments about climate scientists doing it for the money were widely mocked on Twitter. But that didn't stop other conservative commentators from repeating the bogus claim during CNN appearances.
DeLay, who resigned as House majority leader in 2005 after being convicted of money laundering and conspiracy, made similar comments on CNN Right Now on Monday: 
The report is nothing more than a rehash of age-old 10- to 20-year assumptions made by scientists that get paid to further the politics of global warming.
Moore, a right-wing economist with a record of being wrong, echoed those points later on Monday on Erin Burnett Outfront:
We have created a climate change industrial complex in this country, with billions and billions and billions of dollars at stake. A lot of people are getting really, really, really rich off the climate change issue.

CNN does fact-checking, confirms that the lie is a lie

On Tuesday morning, CNN's John Avlon played clips of what Santorum and DeLay said and then proceeded to debunk their claims in a "Reality Check" segment:
JOHN AVLON (POLITICAL ANALYST): Now that talking point you're hearing is a classic bit of distraction and deflection designed to muddy the waters just enough to confuse the clear consensus. In fact, one of the scientists who worked on the climate change report, Katharine Hayhoe, confirms that she and her colleagues were paid, quote, “zero dollars” for their work and could easily make ten times their salaries by working for something like Big Oil. So it turns out that this idea that climate change scientists are rolling in the dough Scrooge McDuck-style is so pervasive that it had to have its own Yale study debunking it.
The Yale study that he referred to is a guide by the Yale Climate Communications group that lists arguments refuting the "persistent myth" that scientists are in it for the money.
CNN then hosted the climate scientist Avlon cited, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, who laughed at the claim that she and her colleagues are paid to advance an agenda and explained why it's incorrect:
KATHARINE HAYHOE (ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTIST): I got paid zero dollars to write this report. My salary would have been exactly the same if I had or hadn't. And if I were studying astrophysics like I used to, I'd probably get exactly the same salary as well. The reality is that I’ve found people often accuse us of doing what they would often do themselves in our position. If we just cast our eye down the richest corporations in the world on Wikipedia's list, the vast majority of those owe their wealth to fossil fuels, so therefore they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo as long as possible.

CNN invites liar back on to repeat lie

But even after CNN debunked the lie with its own programming, the network invited Moore back on to double down and repeat the discredited claim. During At This Hour With Kate Bolduan on Tuesday, host Bolduan played Moore a clip of Hayhoe's comments and let him respond:
MOORE: She runs the climate change center at the school in Texas. What keeps those centers alive is the climate change industry. My only point is that the government in the United States and around the world has spent billions and billions of dollars on climate change. It has become an industry. That does call into question some of the partiality of this research. But the bigger point is --
BOLDUAN: You still don't think she is just motivated by science?
MOORE: She may be. I'm not calling out any single person. I'm just saying that the industry is very, very well funded. It’s in the billions of dollars. People have a vested financial interest in talking about armageddon and these kinds of things.
CNN invited Moore back on for yet another appearance on Tuesday, again on Erin Burnett OutFront, in which he continued to repeat specious right-wing talking points about the National Climate Assessment.
And Santorum also got another chance to repeat the lie about climate scientists being motivated by money. During an appearance on Anderson Cooper 360° on Tuesday night, Santorum said:
I said this the other day and I've gotten a -- I've become a very popular man on Twitter in the last couple of days for the comment I made about scientists making money. There would be no chair of the head of climate studies at every university in America if we didn’t have a crisis. These people make money because there's a crisis.
Santorum's appearance on Anderson Cooper 360° was all the more egregious because Cooper interviewed climate scientist Hayhoe for the episode, and even teased the interview during the show, but ultimately didn't air it. Hayhoe revealed this fact in a tweet, part of a longer thread about the experience:
I get my hair and make up done, we drive across the city, I do the interview, Anderson is lovely, the whole thing takes three hours .... and they don’t air the interview. Instead, they give more airtime to Santorum, so he can to continue to spread disinformation.

2,809 people are talking about this
CNN did end up posting the interview with Hayhoe on its website. In it, Hayhoe said:
HAYHOE: What I do take personally is when we are accused of being in it for the money. I got paid zero dollars to write this report, and honestly, I could have spent those hundreds of hours elsewhere. We don't do this for the money. We do it because we're physicians of the planet. We understand that our planet is running a fever. The impacts are serious and will become dangerous, and we have to act now, not for the good of the planet but for the good of every single human who lives on it.
COOPER: I mean, that is something the president has said in the past, that this is a hoax, and that there are people who've said on our air that this is a money-making scheme essentially, this is a money-making venture.
HAYHOE: I would ask them where are they getting their money from.
Great points from Hayhoe. Too bad they didn't make it on the air.

CNN fails to disclose that liars have received fossil fuel money

While CNN lets its commentators falsely accuse scientists of being motivated by graft, the network has failed to disclose that those very commentators have financial motivations of their own: All three have gotten money from fossil fuel interests that oppose climate action.
Santorum received $763,331 in contributions from the oil and gas industry during his time in the Senate from 1995 to 2007. His long career of shilling on behalf of fossil fuel interests paid off after he left Congress and started doing lucrative work as a consultant, including earning $142,500 in 2010 and the first half of 2011 from Consol Energy, a Pennsylvania coal and gas company. Santorum is also currently the co-chair of biofuels advocacy group Americans for Energy Security and Innovation. Anderson Cooper disclosed that Santorum is paid by the biofuels group before his discussion with Santorum, but did not note the fossil fuel money Santorum has raked in over the years.
DeLay received $739,677 in contributions from the oil and gas industry from 1985 to 2008, and gave enormous handouts to the industry during his time in office.
For his part, Moore has worked for many fossil fuel-backed advocacy groups, including the Koch-funded Cato InstituteClub for Growth, and Donors Capital Fund. He was also chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that has been funded by ExxonMobil and the Kochs. And just last last month, Moore gave a speech at the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. 

At the very least, CNN should disclose its commentators' conflicts of interest. Better, of course, would be not to give them a platform from which to spew their nonsense. But CNN is more dedicated to showy fireworks and conflict than to the truth.

Here's a science guy;

Bill Nye on hurricanes: "This is not in anybody's best interest to continue to deny climate change"MSNBC's Katy Tur: "How can you adequately prepare for storms, for extreme weather ... if you have a bunch of people who don't believe in climate science running things?"

Now scientists can even quantify the effect of man made climate change on SPECIFIC weather events (its not just the confirmed major fluctuations in weather that can be attributed to climate change)!

Here's why journalists can be more confident reporting on climate change and extreme weather The rapidly developing field of climate attribution science gives reporters and meteorologists a valuable tool for educating the public

Journalists too often fail to note how climate change worsens extreme weather events, as Media Matters has documented on multiple occasions. But they should feel increasingly confident doing so. In recent years, climate change attribution science -- research that documents how climate change made specific weather events worse -- has become much more robust.
Vice News correspondent Arielle Duhaime-Ross reported on the increasing speed and confidence with which scientists can now measure climate change’s impact on individual incidences of extreme weather in a January 3 segment for HBO’s Vice News Tonight:

Related information:

Bernie Sanders is right: TV networks need to do a much better job of covering climate change

Jon Stewart Describes Republican's Non-Scientific Denial On Climate Change As The "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA" Tactic

On WNYC's On the Media, Lisa Hymas explains what the press got right and wrong in covering the National Climate Assessment

Right-wing media defaults to ludicrous conspiracy theory to debunk climate report There really is a conspiracy to deceive the public about climate change — but it’s not coming from the left

Climate Change Highlighted

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