Thursday, 30 September 2010

BBC misrepresented scientists behind empirical paper - Fact.

Have sent a follow up to my unanswered complaint about BBC Online's report of the Anderegg paper.

Hello, I sent a complaint about this article on August 9th and I have not received a reply. Paragraph 12 says that the motivations of the researchers was in part a response to 'recent scandals, such as "climategate" at the UK's University of East Anglia and the use of non-peer reviewed literature in the IPCC findings.' The press release from Stanford University does not cite these events, and I have to put it to you on that evidence alone the author of your report is speculating rather than quoting facts. But I have since been in touch with one of the authors of the scientific paper Mr Jim Prall of Toronto University * who states that Dr Anderegg contacted him in August 2009 and they began working on their paper the following month. It was not until November 2009 that the UEA emails were released . Ergo your reporter's speculations about the motivations behind this study amount to a factual error.
Needless to say, I also stand by my earlier remarks about your reporters sceptical commentary .

Or to put it more simply the BBC reporter made up the bits about motivations behind the paper, this can be proved by looking at the dates Anderegg and Prall had begun work on the paper.

So why am I so hot under the collar about this pissy little article? Well, it's about a very important scientific paper that could not be ignored, which gives empirical evidence for public understanding of climate science . The reporter is keen to present it as a 'he said she said' argument, when it is nothing of the sort.  The report introduces what sceptics have to say in the third paragraph and concludes with the sceptics too. But the BBC report also suggests that the media bias is only as recent as , and limited to, the recent peccadilloes highlighted . The press release from Stanford University clearly suggests the paper is motivated by much wider and deeper frustrations.

"It is sad that we even have to do this," said the late Doctor Stephen Schneider. "[Too much of] the media world has just folded up and fired its reporters with expertise in science."

* Correpondence available in comments at

UPDATE: Phoned BBC 15th November to chase it up, was given a reference number, was told I would get a reply in ten days.

UPDATE: Phoned BBC 6th December to chase it up, was given a reference number, was told I would get a reply in ten days.

P.S. And for those that want to see how a science article should be written, Martin Robbins of The Guardian helpfully provides a pro-forma.

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