Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MediaWatch - Climate Change And Cardiology

Recently, i wrote about the disparity between the science concensus and the media reports of uncertainty. This week, Mediawatch devoted an episode to talk-back radio hosts (aka 'shock jocks') and how they don't let the truth get in the way of their views. To quote one of the climate scientists, expect accuracy and rigour on commercial radio "the week after hell freezes over".

It seems that while these stations welcome geologists with unscientific theories, the rare time that an actual climate scientist gets invited on, he is treated with hostility. Professor Will Steffen (Executive Director ANU Climate Change Institute):
Many of my colleagues want to get on with their research. They are tired of being misrepresented or "beaten up" in the media. Their business is to do the science, they are paid to do research and teaching. I sense a degree of burnout in the scientific community (in relation to engaging with media like talkback radio), and this is regrettable but completely understandable. Unless commercial radio changes the way they operate, I don’t think the situation can be changed.

It’s a fruitless exercise to go in a debate with sceptics or commercial radio hosts like Alan Jones as you aren’t given the space and time to explain the science, and if you do, the shonky "science" on the other side is give equal - or more - time and weight.

And Professor Andy Pitman (Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW) about commercial radio:
I do not think they are actually interested in being informed on the science. It is very hard to calmly respond to questions that are ill-informed and misrepresent anything vaguely scientific. It would be like asking a cardiologist to respond to the well known theory that humans do not have a heart and cardiologists only claim we have a heart so they can make lots of money claiming to operate on them
I thoroughly recommend watching the episode (about 10 minutes) and/or reading the transcript.

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