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Infographic Showing Media Ineptitude Of AGW Believers

The “Global Warming Infographic” by Renegade Conservatory Guy purportedly showing the status of the “global warming debate” among scientists, the media and the public is as visually impressive as scientifically unsound.

There’s e.g. conflation of American (media) and British (public) results, as if Mad Cow disease had never happened, and the world were really a single place (does anybody understand the fact that ETS is alive in Europe and pretty much nowhere else, for example). The author has also some issues even if media coverage “includes a skeptic viewpoint”, as if it were a mortal sin even to mention the possibility of an alternative viewpoint. Anderegg 2010 makes so many assumptions and mistakes, it’s in dire need of independent confirmation. And so on and so forth.

Given the strength of the underlying case, I am always amazed at how good these efforts are at showing the “believer” side of AGW as mediatically inept. It is a well-known fact that poll results are deeply influenced by how questions are phrased, hence either there is a proper scientific study on the attitudes of scientists, public and the media about global warming (perhaps with more than two categories), or any infographic will be just another opinion piece. “Informed opinion”, yes, but still an opinion.

Furthermore, even taking the figures as “truth”, one would still be left wondering if it’s the Public following the Media, or viceversa. In the former case, we are back to old theories about propaganda and a naive public ready to lap up anything they read about, as if Communism and the Vietnam War had never happened.

In the latter case, it’s the simple idea that the media is in the business of “selling a product” to willing buyers, i.e. the public. Which of the two is the most likely scenario?

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  1. 2010/08/06 at 00:24

    I have slightly rephrased the point at Moth Incarnate:

    I am afraid the only thing the “infographic” demonstrates is that there’s been no scientific analysis of what the situation actually is among scientists, the media AND the public.

    There is no clear definition of the labels branded about, figures are mixed up between the USA and the UK, there is no control on the BBC/Populus poll, there is no verification on the validity of separating each group into two categories, and I am sure plenty of journalists whose coverage ever included “a skeptic viewpoint” who would harshly object against being classified as “not reporting the consensus”. Etc etc.

    Infographics like that are only good as infographics, not as general purveyors of scientific knowledge. The situation is actually paradoxical, like watching somebody extol the virtues of soap while sporting visibly dirty hands.

    Say, the goal is to communicate the difference between science and media/public perception. The first and most important thing to do should then be to base that communication on science.

    Otherwise it becomes yet another game of media/public perception, thereby undermining the whole point. One can’t seriously protest against the mischaracterization of the science (of climate) by…mischaracterizing the science (of what scientists, the media and the public actually think about climate change).

  2. 2010/08/05 at 15:15

    How does the graphic display “media ineptitude” exactly? I’m fairly certain that the point of the graphic is to display the difference between what Science says about climate change, and what the media reports about it. This entry is full of all types of leaps of faith, and frankly, makes little sense.

    • 2010/08/05 at 15:27

      Brendan – it’s like watching somebody extol the virtues of soap while sporting visibly dirty hands.

      Say, the goal is to communicate the difference between science and media/public perception. The first and most important thing to do should then be to base that communication on science. Otherwise it becomes yet another game of media/public perception thereby undermining the whole point.

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