Misinformation by the media

truth lies by Richard0

Masters: “2010 is now tied with 2007 as the year with the most national extreme heat records–fifteen” – As nation, Russia, and world swelter under record heat, NY Times’ Tom Zeller publishes dreadful he-said/she-said, quote-mining piece
[Via Climate Progress]

We now know that “After the hottest decade on record, it’s the hottest year on record, seemingly the hottest week of all time in satellite record and we may be at record low Arctic sea ice volume.” In this country, we saw new daily high temperature records beat new cold records by nearly 5 to 1 in June.

Uber-meteorologist Jeff Masters reports today:

The year 2010 is now tied with 2007 as the year with the most national extreme heat records–fifteen.

So, naturally, the NY Times is out with what would, for any other paper, be one of its worst climate stories ever, but which is just run-of-the-mill dreadful for the former paper of record (see here)?

The Tom Zeller’s piece, “Is It Hot in Here? Must Be Global Warming,” buries the one crucial scientific fact that eviscerates its entire narrative:

There is a not-insignificant caveat: Those pointing to hot weather as evidence of global warming are, in the broadest sense, more likely to be right. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado demonstrated last year that record high temperatures have occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade.

That’s in keeping with most models of global warming, which predict not a steady climb in temperature, but higher average readings over time — and more record-breaking peaks than valleys.

Okay, so climate scientists predicted the weather would get hotter as we poured more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. And now that national and global all-time records are being set, that would seem to be supporting evidence for the theory.

Those of us who explain this are “in the broadest sense, more likely to be right.” But no need to let the facts get in the way of a good story. So the actual thrust of Zeller’s piece is the exact opposite. It opens:

In any debate over climate change, conventional wisdom holds that there is no reflex more absurd than invoking the local weather.

the climate has been well established for decades now — the real reason people like me are “more likely to be right.”

[More]

This article will give you much more information than Tom Zeller’s, information that can be verified and checked. Good, informative article provides you the most important information first, not in the middle. That is where an article that wants to mislead puts the important information. Zeller exercises a very old, deceptive practice: create a false dichotomy, pretending that two sides have equal weight. Because if he wrote that only one side is likely to be right in the first paragraph he would not have the narrative he want to present.

Thus are Cargo Cult Worlds sustained.

It is called burying the lede The point that only one side is likely to be right changes the entire focus of his article. It is found in paragraph 14!

How does Zeller start the article? With a story about a Senator building igloos and various “He said. No he said” just so stories. Fun story, bad journalism.

Sustaining misinformation is not a problem for journalists like Zeller. As Brad said in the comments to his post entitled Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps? Tom Zeller of the New York Times Should Go Do a Job He Could Do Well Edition:

As I have said many times: the root problem is that the idea that his stories should inform rather than misinform readers about the world is simply not on Tom Zellers checklist of things that it should accomplish–or on the checklist of his editors.

Which is why the sooner that he leaves journalism the better, and we hope to see him replaced by people who think their job is to tell people the truth–so that they can truthfully sum up: and thats the way it is.

People who think their job is to tell the truth. That would certainly make creating Cargo Cult Worlds much more difficult. I wonder why the major media does not work towards greater truthfulness?

Because you can be certain that if they do replace journalists such as Zeller, it will not be with reporters who think their job is to tell the truth. The papers simply do not appear to believe that highlighting truthfulness should be allowed to get in the way of a good story, that working to present facts in a truthful light is part of their business.

Perhaps the lack of such work by the media is a reason for their continuing failures?