Monday, June 23, 2008

Public skepticism of media hype

The public, at least in Britain, smells a con job. The Guardian reports:
The majority of the British public is still not convinced that climate change is caused by humans - and many others believe scientists are exaggerating the problem, according to an exclusive poll for The Observer.

Ipsos MORI polled 1,039 adults and found that six out of 10 agreed that 'many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change', and that four out of 10 'sometimes think climate change might not be as bad as people say'. In both cases, another 20 per cent were not convinced either way. Despite this, three quarters still professed to be concerned about climate change.

One reason for public skepticism is likely the lack of skepticism displayed by the news media. Take, for example, this week's stories on global warming 'causing' earthquakes. As Jeff Poor writes:
Almost every day a news report comes out linking something to climate change – obesity, food riots or a century of wildfires. Some of the claims seem especially outlandish. Sometimes they are.

On June 18, posted a story claiming that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago because of global warming. The story had no byline, but was attributed to the Associated Press. The story was identical to a June 17 Market Wire press release attributed to Tom Chalko, the scientist that made the claim of the earthquake/global warming link.

However, as of 3 p.m. on June 19, the story was no longer available and both and AP were blaming the other side for report.

Chalko has done worked pertaining to the “Thiaoouba Prophecy,” a theory the supernatural is connected to the stories in the Bible and a theory about auras, which contends “everything in the Universe seems to be just a vibration.”

Dr. Luboš Motl, a former Harvard physicist called Chalko an “übercrackpot” on his blog on June 19 and questioned Chalko’s claim about the increase in seismic energy.
As I write, MSNBC's version of the story is still online. While the original CBS version is gone, a cached version is here. CBS wrote:
The research proves that destructive ability of earthquakes on Earth increases alarmingly fast and that this trend is set to continue, unless the problem of "global warming" is comprehensively and urgently addressed.
This excerpt shows why the found the story too good to check: it is filled with standard liberal anxiety rhetoric about an "alarming" and "destructive" problem that demands "comprehensive" and "urgent" solution.

Dr. Chalko's theory (full text, PDF) seems to have been published in a journal of Chalko's creation. More discussion on the subject is found here, here, and here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It won’t be particularly wrong to call the USA the obesity capital of the world. Obesity is nothing less than an epidemic in this country and it is still alarmingly rising even among the children. Researchers have found that obesity is also fast increasing among the American women and especially those women who have been married to an unhappy relationship. Women having an unhappy married life have been found to have gained around 54 pounds in average in the first 10 years of their unhappy marriage.

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