The Daily Telegraph misrepresent a scientist’s work, then refuse to correct it when he writes to them.

January 8th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in climate change, telegraph | 109 Comments »

People in the “public engagement” community often talk about how scientists should do more to communicate with the media. I take a different line: scientists have good grounds to be extremely nervous, and some entities and journalists could quite fairly be blacklisted.

Here’s just one more example. It doesn’t stand out, I get sent plenty every week, and when I get a moment I’ll find a way to archive the tips efficiently online: but I’m posting this one here because the Telegraph have misrepresented a scientists work, refused to correct it when he writes to them, and then refused even to let him post an online comment on the article which misrepresented his own work. This strikes me as harsh.

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Trivial Disputes

February 2nd, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, bbc, climate change, drurrrgs, independent, telegraph | 46 Comments »

There are no difficult ideas in this column. Like, for example, when I tell you about the Daily Telegraph front page headline which says “Abuse of cannabis puts 500 a week in hospital”, and it turns out they’re actually quoting a figure from a report on the number of people having contact with any drug treatment service of any variety. The colossal majority of these, of course, are outpatient appointments for drugs counselling, not hospital admissions. So there are not 500 people a week suddenly being put into hospital by cannabis. But this is not a news story: like their recurring dodgy abortion figures, it is the venal moralising of a passing puritan, dressed up in posh numbers.

Similarly, there’s nothing very complicated about a report from CNW Marketing in Oregon, which the Independent’s motoring correspondent has now quoted (twice) in his attempt to demonstrate that Hummers, Jeeps, and various other cars the size of a small caravan are – “in fact” – greener than smaller hybrid cars like the Prius. Because readers love a quirky paradox.

CNW, a car industry marketing firm, manage to do this by making calculations over the lifetime of a car. They decide that about 90% of the environmental cost of a car’s lifetime environmental impact is from its manufacture and recycling, not the fuel it burns whilst tootling around. This is the polar opposite of all other life-cycle analyses. CNW include all kinds of funny things to make their numbers work, like the erosion of the road surface of the people who travel to the car factory.

They also decide, for the purposes of their calculation, that people will keep their giant, cyclist-killing Jeeps for twice as long as their green hybrid cars, and if you think that is a leap of faith, they also decide that Prius drivers will travel about half as many miles a year as Jeep drivers.

This may be true if you observe the behaviour of people who choose to buy these cars. But it’s hard to see how it is a factor for anyone making a new purchasing decision, since you’re probably going to drive as much as you’re going to drive, and buying a 4×4 is not suddenly going to turn you overnight into a chubby, middle-class parent driving your children 400 yards to school. Read the rest of this entry »

God delights as Pope transpires not to be total ass.

December 15th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in climate change, mail, religion | 26 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday December 15 2007

The Pope condemns the climate change prophets of doom,” roared the headline on Thursday. Basically if the Daily Mail goes out of business, I’ll have to give up this column. “Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.” Read the rest of this entry »

Credit where it’s due

March 17th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, climate change | 185 Comments »

It had been so slaughtered by the time Friday came around that there was no way I could write about the Global Warming documentary with any poise, since it had all been done to death. Steve Connor in Read the rest of this entry »

Insert “swindle” joke here.

March 11th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, climate change | 152 Comments »

On Thursday night, Channel 4 broadcast what it described as a “controversial documentary”. It was essentially the same rather elderly climate denialist arguments that have been seen many times before – and assessed, and refuted – but packaged up with a bit of drama, as if they were new and unheard of.

That wasn’t the only problem with it.

Climate scientist ‘duped to deny global warming’
Ben Goldacre and David Adam
Sunday March 11, 2007
The Observer Read the rest of this entry »

Against Nature – Channel 4 tonight

March 8th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, climate change | 130 Comments »

So as I’m sure most of you know, tonight there is a documentary about how we don’t need to worry about global warming.

Whatever your feelings about climate change, there are good reasons to to have serious concerns about the film:
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