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This is why conservative media outlets like the Daily Mail are 'unreliable'

Posted on 13 February 2017 by dana1981

Wikipedia editors recently voted to ban the Daily Mail tabloid as a source for their website after deeming it “generally unreliable.” To put the severity of this decision in context, Wikipedia still allows references to Russia Today and Fox News, both of which display a clear bias toward the ruling parties of their respective countries.

It thus may seem like a remarkable decision for Wikipedia to ban the Daily Mail, but fake news stories by David Rose in two consecutive editions of the Mail on Sunday – which echoed throughout the international conservative media – provide perfect examples of why the decision was justified and wise.

Debunked David Rose doubles down, goes full Trump

I knew people would misuse this. But you can’t control other people.

Most importantly, the scientific integrity of the NOAA data is indisputable. The organization’s global temperature data is nearly identical to that of other scientific groups like NASA, the Hadley Centre, and Berkeley Earth.

View image on Twitter

In fact, a recent paper led by Zeke Hausfather confirmed the accuracy of the new NOAA dataset, and Hausfather noted that the group’s new version mostly adjusted temperature estimates in the early 20th century – and decreased the overall warming.

View image on Twitter

David Rose’s sensationalist story claiming that “world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data” was entirely without scientific merit. It was a giant nothingburger, or as NASA GISS director Gavin Schmidt called it, “a NOAA-thing burger.”

So after a week full of rebuking and debunking from climate science experts and real science journalists, and after Rose’s own source walked back his criticisms and explicitly said there was “no data tampering, no data changing, nothing malicious,” how did Rose respond? Like any good propagandist, he doubled down.

In his follow-up piece, Rose’s “smoking gun” is that NOAA published its updated ocean temperature data 5 months later than it could have, to coincide with the 2015 global temperature data paper that incorporated it. This is a smoking gun because ... well, it’s not. It’s another pedantic critique trying desperately to make a mountain out of less than a molehill. The few quasi-scientific points in Rose’s new piece are patently false.

Rose’s reaction to the critiques of his first piece are quite reminiscent of Donald Trump’s responses to being called out for spreading misinformation. Both continue to deny the facts. Both brag about the size of their hands, or rally audiences, or Facebook shares (they’re yuge). Both attack the readership of those have debunked them, like the “failing New York Times” or Ars Technica

Both claim that other people agree with them. Important people – the best people – like in Rose’s case, Lamar Smith. The same Lamar Smith who said that listening to Donald Trump “might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.”

Climate misinformation is the Mail norm

This is far from the first time David Rose and the Mail have published nonscience. For example, in 2013 he wrote that because there was more sea ice in the Arctic that summer than the previous year, this was somehow indicative of “global COOLING!”. In reality, about three-quarters of the summer Arctic sea ice has disappeared in less than four decades due to rapid global warming.

Arctic sea ice annual minimum volume data. Video created by Andy Lee Robinson.

In 2014, as Arctic sea ice continued its death spiral, along with disappearing glaciers and ice sheets around the world in a year that would soon become the hottest on record, Rose tried to distract his readers by focusing their attention on Antarctic sea ice. Why is Antarctic sea ice important? For no reason, except it’s bucked the disappearing trend of all the rest of the Earth’s ice. Global warming is actually one reason – melting of Antarctic land ice has freshened and cooled the ocean surface, allowing for more sea ice to form. But David Rose isn’t interested in the physical mechanisms, he’s just interested in giving his readers the impression that something about this global warming stuff just doesn’t seem right.

This past November, Rose tried to blame the record-shattering hot global temperatures of 2016 on El Niño in a piece that the climate scientists at Climate Feedback gave a “very low” scientific credibility score of -1.9. The lowest possible score is -2.0. The scientists described Rose’s article as “incredibly misleading,” “flawed to perfection,” “deceptive,” and “completely bogus.” One expressed dismay that they couldn’t rate its credibility worse than “very low.” When it comes to getting science wrong, David Rose goes to 11.

This past week, climate scientists Richard Betts, Tamsin Edwards, Doug McNeall, and Ed Hawkins revisited another Rose article from 2013 called ‘The Great Green Con.” In it, he showed a graph of climate model temperature projections against observations. The measured data fell within the model range, but toward the lower end. Rose declared in the Mail on Sunday:

The graph shows in incontrovertible detail how the speed of global warming has been massively overestimated … The eco-debate was, in effect, hijacked by false data.

Betts, Edwards, McNeall, and Hawkins updated Rose’s graph with the latest temperature data. It now looks like this:

Click here to read the rest

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Comments 1 to 14:

  1. The Daily Mail is clearly unreliable. They published inaccurate nonsense, and only half the relevent information about the issue. Conservative media too often seem comfortable with "lies by omission".

    Plenty of conservative media also seem to see theories like free trade, or multiculturalism, or climate science as "Big Lies" but they are never able to show who is lying, or what the lies specifically are. 

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  2. This is perceptive from John Oliver at the Guardian:

    "Oliver went on: “There is a pattern here: Trump sees something that jibes with his worldview, doesn’t check it, half-remembers it and then passes it on, at which point it takes on a life of its own and appears to validate itself.”

    Doesn't this reflect what so many climate denialists do?

    Oliver also talks about Trump's reliance on cable tv, Breitbart etc. He also talks about the issue of how policy debate usually agrees a basic set of facts. By dispensing with these facts, and just making stuff up, or believing nonsense,  the Trump Administration risks bad policy emerging.

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  3. An informative analysis from a political science perspective...

    One of the most unexpected political developments in recent months has been the political awakening of scientists in the United States.

    A normally reticent group (at least when it comes to politics), scientists are speaking out, organizing a major march and planning to run for public office. There is a growing sense that the danger posed by the Trump administration to evidence-based policy, and perhaps science itself, is unprecedented. I share this concern. The Trump administration’s actions and rhetoric appear to signal an acceleration of Republican skepticism toward scientific research carried out in the public interest.

    This said, what is keeping political scientists, particularly those like me who study political psychology, up at night is not the Trump administration’s ideologically driven science bias. Rather, it is the fact that Trump himself exhibits an authoritarian style of motivated reasoning that appears to be intended (consciously or not) to consolidate his power.

    This combination – institutional challenges to the scientific integrity of government employees and Trump’s willingness to disregard evidence on a variety of matters – has broad and ominous implications beyond how science informs national policies.

    Why politicians think they know better than scientists – and why that’s so dangerous, by Elizabeth Suhay, The Conversation US, Feb 12, 2017

    Elizabeth Suhay is an Assistant Professor of Government, American University. She currently consults for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is assisting AAAS as they develop a new training program aimed at helping scientists better communicate their scientific findings to policymakers.

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  4. Regarding the Daily Fail, it seems fake expert Judith Curry connived with fake journalist David Rose to concoct a fake scandal at NOAA, which the fake media promptly disseminated as widely and loudly as possible.  Worse is the possibility that this fake news will be used as an excuse by the (valiantly refraining from invoking the adjective "fake") Trump Administration to emasculate NOAA.  We are living in interesting times.

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  5. Digby @4 - Quite so. For chapter and verse on the "Trump Administration emasculat[ion of] NOAA" please see:

    "Climategate 2 Falls at the First Hurdle?"

    Watch the video to discover how “The Land of the Free” has morphed into “TrumpLand” in a matter of weeks. The “interrogation” of Rush Holt of the AAAS. A show trial of the American Association for the Advancement of Science? Congressman Lamar Smith presiding!

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  6. I gave up on the Daily Fail in the early 1980s (maybe even earlier), it was a story about the discovery of Noahs Ark. The story turned out to be hyped and basically fiction, there was little effort made to confirm the reliability of the archeology described in the story.

    It's 100 times worse now.

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  7. Jim Hunt @5

    Lamar Smith makes me feel sick.  I remember reading elsewhere that there was a time when he accepted the reality of climate change; he changed his mind when he discovered "how much it would cost" to combat it.

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  8. Speaking of Lamar Smith…

    Two Republican members of Congress sent a formal letter Tuesday to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, expressing concern that “approximately a dozen career EPA officials” are using the encrypted messaging app Signal to covertly plan strategy and may be running afoul of the Freedom of Information Act.

    The open source app has gained renewed interest in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump.

    House members: EPA officials may be using Signal to “spread their goals covertly” by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, Feb 15, 2017

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  9. Recommended supplemental reading:

    Climate Change Denial Is the Original Fake News by Eric Pooley, Time, Feb 14, 2017

    Eric Pooley, a former managing editor of Fortune and chief political correspondent for Time, is a Senior Vice President at Environmental Defense Fund and the author of The Climate War.

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  10. If EPA officials are sending encrypted email on government servers, then it is frankly pretty stupid. Let's see if this is actually true or yet more fake news.

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  11. John @9 - "Fake News" => "Post-Truth" => "Alternative Facts"!

    "How Trump Won"

    Abel discovered that many other motives were involved, among them a sense of the decline of Germany, a desire to rediscover past greatness, a fear of social disorder and the longing for a strong leader.

    We would argue that the same is true of those who supported Trump.

    The climate change denial playbook has indeed recently been repurposed. (IMHO!)

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  12. This story is set to run and run! The 3rd instalment of David Rose's anti NOAA fantasy fiction saga was published in Sunday's MoS:

    "Climategate 2 – Episode 3 of David Rose’s Epic Saga"

    A couple of UK Met Office scientists have already identified some gaping holes in Mr. Rose's latest set of "Alternative Facts"

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  13. Lamar Smith's denial and influence are concerning, but I'd be wary of taking his "unvarnished truth" comments out of context. It was part of a hypothetical "what the media might be saying about Trump if he were a Democrat" routine, so you would expect hyperbole.  It's not clear to me whether the "unvarnished truth" sentence was hypothetical rhetoric or his genuine attitude.

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  14. Also, I was interested to see that the Grantham Institute has lodged a complaint with the Independent Press Standards Organisation concerning the many inaccuracies in the Mail's Bates/NOAA article:

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