Of journalists, their sources and … evidence

In my post a few days ago, I had observed that the narratives offered by the New York Times‘ Andrew Revkin (and some of his counterparts at other MSM establishments) often struck me as being somewhat shallow in that he seems overly-inclined to rely solely on the word of a climate scientist, simply because, well, because a climate scientist said so! As I had demonstrated in my post, those who are deemed to be “skeptics” are not accorded such reverence sorry, deference.

This same “deference” is apparently bestowed on News Releases which accord with Revkin’s narrative(s) – without requiring any further exploration. As I had noted in my post, Revkin seemed to be unaware of a subsequent Q & A from the Norfolk Constabulary which clearly indicated that it was only through the application of “screening fallacies” that they were able to “conclude” – as Revkin had dutifully reported:

“There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”

Surely, once I had made him aware of their subsequent clarification:

“Generally speaking, it was a screening exercise which did not provide any positive lines of enquiry.

“Whilst – because we have not found the perpetrators – we cannot say categorically that no-one at the UEA is involved, there is no evidence to suggest that there was. The nature and sophistication of the attack does not suggest that it was anyone at the UEA.” [emphasis added -hro]

this would have warranted an update to those posts in which he had quoted from – and cited – the July 18, 2012 News Release.

Alas, my expectations must be too high. Revkin did grace my previous post with a reply in which he noted that a link to the Q & A would be “helpful”. Why Revkin didn’t ask for this when he tagged my comment on his blog as an “NYT Pick” is left as an exercise for the reader – as is his apparent inability to find it for himself, if my word does not warrant the same deference and acceptance as that of … oh, I dunno … David Karoly or Gavin Schmidt, for example! But I digress …

I did respond to Revkin’s request for the link and indicated why I had not previously supplied it. Seeing no response to my reply, I decided to post the information in a further comment on his blog, in which I also referred back to my:

Could you share with us the evidence presented to you circa Nov. 20/09 – and duly analyzed by those with appropriate expertise – which led you to conclude that the alleged “hack” for the purpose of an “upload” (an action which has never made any sense to me!) can reasonably be described as: “Real Climate … was clearly subjected to a computer hack …”

Revkin’s reply:

Andrew Revkin Dot Earth blogger

Indeed, my statements about the “hack” of Real Climate rely entirely on the statements of Gavin Schmidt, and not any independent line of evidence. So you’re correct that there’s no independent evidence-based foundation for that level of definitiveness.

In reply to Hilary Ostrov July 24, 2012 at 4:13 a.m [emphasis added -hro]

Well, I give full credit to Revkin for this unequivocal confirmation of what I have long suspected! Although I do wonder if he is fully aware of the many fault-lines in Schmidt’s ever-changing story on this alleged “hack”.

Nonetheless, if I were at Revkin’s keyboard – at the very least – I would want to update the various posts I’d made, PDQ, in order to better reflect the facts and nuances that had been made known to (and/or by) me. As of 07/24/2012 05:04 PM PDT, as far as I can tell, he has not done this.

And I suppose it’s probably going to be too much to expect that he will update his June 11, 2012 post – in which he took the word of David Karoly that a much publicized paper, of which Karoly was a co-author, had been “put on hold” (a rather novel – if not previously unknown – “status” in the realm of academic journal publications). As Steve McIntyre reported today, according to correspondence from Joelle Gergis, the lead author, this paper was, in fact, “voluntarily withdraw[n]”.

In his comment on my previous post, Revkin had offered the excuse that:

I’d love to probe more into this morass, but — as I think you know — Dot Earth is not a climate blog, but has a much wider scope. Just not possible to cover every angle.

I wonder whatever happened to the maxim that “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. It certainly doesn’t seem to apply to a good number of papers by noble climate scientists – or to the work of their friends and fellow activists in the mainstream media.

But what do I know, eh?! After all, I’m not a noble climate scientist – or a “respected” and well-known environmental “journalist”.


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