July 3, 2009

Science's Dirty Laundry

Journalists protest Global Warming spin cycle

Even journalists are beginning to revolt at tactics the government is now using to spin the Global Warming myth.

Controversy erupted this week at the World Conference of Science Journalists over the National Science Foundation's "underwriting" of media projects. It turns out that the NSF, which is heavily invested in propagating the Global Warming party line, has been quietly producing content for news outlets, content which the casual observer might not recognize for the propaganda it is.

According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the NSF's Jeff Nesbit was met with "consternation" at the London conference for "attempting to 'disguise' publicity as objective reporting."

As stated earlier, the NSF is a major player in the Global Warming cult, having funded studies which claim that, despite cooling temperatures, warming is inevitable this century, and that it will impact everything from vintners who produce Pinot Noir to the world's largest freshwater lake in Siberia.

The NSF provides about twenty percent of all federal funding for scientific research. It is now also providing media outlets with content, such as the below from U.S. News & Report:
NSF Releases Comprehensive Report on Global Impacts of Climate Change
Agency proposes to double climate research portfolio in 2010

Posted May 14, 2009
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a report on global climate change, entitled "Solving the Puzzle: Researching the Impacts of Climate Change around the World," that describes how, over nearly 60 years, NSF-funded researchers have found signs of a changing climate in nearly every corner of the globe, from the icy expanses of Earth's polar regions to its equatorial ecosystems.

The article does note, "content provided by the National Science Foundation." However, there is no such disclaimer posted for the Discovery Files podcasts available there, one of which states:
"the time for just talking about Global Warming is over. The good news is that action now could stabilize the threat of climate change."

The NSF also provides content to LiveScience, which published a piece in February announcing the agency's request for a budget increase, doubling funding for "basic research" over the next decade, and:

"Making climate change research and education a priority. The budget supports research to improve our ability to predict future environmental conditions and to develop strategies for responding to global environmental change. The budget establishes a climate change education program to help develop the next generation of environmentally engaged scientists and engineers."

It is not clear from the report if the budget increase would also include more content to be placed in media outlets.

This particular article states that it was written by LiveScience staff; still senior editor Robin Lloyd conceded that accepting other content produced by the NSF as other articles isn't "ideal." According to the CJR, she admitted, "We are throwing up their press stuff."

Although some of the NSF's propaganda activities are more traditional, such as underwriting PBS science programming, how can news organizations objectively cover a government agency for which said outlets are also "throwing up their (the NSF's) press stuff"?

It should be pointed out that the journalists who objected at the London conference -- many of whom are Global Warming true believers -- were not complaining about the NSF's promotion of Global Warming, but rather, as the CJR reported, "that the NSF is dangerously blurring the lines between journalism and PR."

But it still could be a step in the right direction.

The late Michael Crichton, in an appendix to his novel, State of Fear, compared the 'science' behind man-made Global Warming to the similarly questionable research behind eugenics, the specious theory floated a little over a century ago that the human gene pool was being weakened by supposedly inferior peoples, leading eventually to a supposedly-scientific basis for Adolf Hitler's evils. Crichton pointed out that eugenics was once supported by the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council and that opponents of this "psuedoscience" were called reactionary and shouted down.

Crichton quoted Ute Deichman's Biologists Under Hitler:

"Scientists, including those who were not members of the (Nazi) party,
helped to get funding for their work through their modified behavior and direct cooperation with the state." In other words, in order to get funding, scientists played along voluntarily. Another theory advanced by the Nazis was the Big Lie:

"(T)he broad masses ... more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods"

A big part of telling the Big Lie was using propaganda.

Neither Crichton meant then -- nor I mean now -- to imply that supporters of Global Warming are racist, or totalitarian, or even evil. Rather, Crichton intended his analysis, based on three years of research, as a warning of the dangers of mis-using science as a crutch to prop up political ambitions.

My warning is similar. Just as scientists were wrong in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to jettison scientific principles for a popular theory. Journalists, and journalistic organizations, are now wrong to sacrifice ethics for the current hot scientific craze. Pun intended.William Tate is an award-winning journalist and author

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