Fiona Fox, who runs the (big-oil funded!) Science Media Centre has an article up at the BBC College of Journalism website. The thrust of the piece is that sceptics should be ignored. Nothing new there, I hear you say. However, her argument includes this take on the Hockey Stick.
That said, I suspect the other defence of 'balance' is that it is 'entertaining'. Most producers don't bother to hide their utter disdain when I suggest that having two scientists who look like they may agree would make for an equally entertaining debate. But I mean it. Anyone who reads Fred Pearce's brilliant new book on the UEA (University of East Anglia) emails can testify that the really interesting disputes about the 'Hockey Stick' and other climate science controversies were amongst mainstream scientists themselves, not between scientists and the sceptics.
Fox's take on the lessons to be learned from the Hockey Stick affair - that sceptics should be ignored - are, to say the least, odd. I've only glanced at Fred Pearce's book, which I will start reading next week, but I did chance upon one interesting quote from the book. Speaking about the aftermath of McIntyre and McKitrick's first paper on the Hockey Stick back in 2003, Pearce explains how he and other environment journalists missed what was going on:
I fear that journalists like me who should by now have been taking this story seriously, were fooled by a mixture of the complexity of the statistical arguments being made by McIntyre and by the loud assertions by Mann and others that there was nothing in it.
Fox says that journalists have dutifully let both sides have their say, an says that this is an approach she deprecates. But she also praises Pearce's book, which shows clearly that even when this was done, important scientific findings were ignored by the media. And yet despite this, Fox wants to make it harder still for dissenting voices to be heard. If she had it her way we'd remain completely ignorant of the flaws in the Hockey Stick, still unable to assess how they fit into the bigger picture.
I hope this is just a case of her not understanding the meaning of the words she has read, because otherwise this looks like a wilful attempt to keep the public ignorant.