Monday, June 26, 2006

Shaping what you think

Last week I complained about a news story on MSNBC saying that a new study by the National Research Council confirmed global warming and the "Hockey Stick" reconstruction of historic climate. I was right to be skeptical. The story contained this quote:

The National Research Council panel concluded that the Mann-Bradley-Hughes research was "likely" to be true, said John Wallace, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Washington and a panel member. The conclusions from the research "are very close to being right" and are supported by even more recent data, Wallace said.

This is not what the report says. What it says is that:

1) The Little Ice Age existed as a period of global cooling. There was also significant, widespread, regional warming  confirming the Medieval warm period.

2) The proxies available are really only accurate for the last 400 years. After that, confidence levels go down. Despite this, they were willing to go on record as confirming an earlier warm period.

3) The proxies are not accurate enough to project temperatures for a single year or even decade so statements like "The 1990s were the warmest decade in 900 years" should not be made.

Bottom line - instead of confirming the Hockey Stick, the report disproved it.

So why was it reported the other way? Because the press in general decided some time ago that global warming is so important that they have to filter the news. If ordinary people knew that there is legitimate dissent, they might not be willing to accept the drastic measures needed to stop global warming. and if global warming isn't a reality after all? That doesn't matter. People should limit their driving and power usage and strive to live more simply, anyway.

I noticed a similar policy of filtering the news on a completely different subject. The AP report for Iraq printed last Saturday listed American dead, coalition forces dead, Iraqi civilian deaths, the number of bombs that went off in the Baghdad area, and mentioned a brief battle between Americans and insurgents near the Green Zone in Baghdad. From the wire service report you would think that no insurgents were killed anywhere. In general, it's hard to remember any accounts of insurgent deaths that didn't include an account of an American atrocity.

I'm certainly not the first to complain about this but the coverage from Iraq is all one-sided. It is a daily count of deaths - American, coalition, and civilian but never insurgent. No military offensives have been reported since Faluga. Nothing but a constant drip of death.

After the initial coverage the networks swore off using embedded reporters. The complaint was that they were not reporting, they were cheerleading. The news services apologized for being so one-sided and promised to do better. Obviously "better" means one-sided for the other side.

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