This is a reprint of an article from my personal blog.
One line you will regularly hear from the likes of UKIP or the Tea party types is that the major news channels, in particular the BBC can’t be trusted, as the media are “biased” against them. That for example on the topic of climate change, the BBC is biased towards “the warmist agenda”…which seems to mean they believe the nice guy with the PhD in climate studies and the hundred or so published papers to his name, over screaming lord piss-pop with a degree in Reiki medicine from Hollywood upstairs medical school.
Anyway, a recent report from the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology committee has criticised the BBC for its coverage on the climate change issue…for being if anything too biased against the mainstream scientific position.
In essence they’re criticism of the BBC is that the beeb will often report on the science of climate change, interviewing for example some respected scientist, or a government minster, or some green campaigner. Who will back up his/her position by pointing to peer reviewed studies by a host of sources or organisations (many of which have nothing to do with the IPCC and no reason to be biased either way). And then in the interest of journalistic “balance” the BBC will pull out some climate contrarian such as Bjorn Lomborg or Delingpole (recently fired from the Telegraph), who’ll counter said peer review studies typically with “opinion”, technobabble or half-baked myths.
Obviously, there is a world of a difference between someone’s opinion and a peer reviewed study backed up by actual data. It’s the equivalent of a doctor showing you an X-ray and suggesting they need to operate straight away, but you applying equal weight to the fact that the bloke down the pub the other night says you look fine, or something you saw in the Daily Mail Health section.Indeed this problem isn’t just an issue for the BBC on its climate coverage, but an issue with all media on many issues relating to science. Where again the often feel the need for “balance” by bringing on some loony toon homeopathic quack and giving equal weighting to his opinions as they give to many decades worth of scientific research. Even the comedian Dara O’Brian picks up on it in one of his sketches.
While people are entitled to their opinions, its important to apply appropriate weighting, particularly given that many on the right have strong ideological reasons to adopt a climate denial position.