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« Peer review isn't working | Main | Josh 72 redux »
Friday
Feb042011

Integrity in the internet age

Barry Woods has interviewed James Delingpole about his experiences with the BBC and the results are up at WUWT. James' own take on the affair is at the Spectator.

The big news from the story is the degree to which Delingpole was misled about the programme by the Horizon producer, Emma Jay. This is the extract from the letter she sent to Delingpole:

“The tone of the film is very questioning but with no preconceptions. On the issue of who is to blame no-one will be left unscathed, whether that is science sceptics, the media or most particularly scientists themselves.   Sir Paul is very aware of the culpability of scientists and that will come across in the film. They will not be portrayed as white coated magicians who should be left to work in their ivory towers – their failings will be dealt with in detail.”

Note the words "most particularly the scientists". It's funny, but I don't remember any scientists coming out of the programme so much as ruffled, let alone scathed. In fact, we were presented with the rather unedifying prospect of the President of the Royal Society apparently giving the seal of approval to the practice of hiding uncertainties from policymakers, the great man standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Phil Jones and discussing the wicked sceptics.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that Emma Jay grossly misled Delingpole as to the nature of the programme.

It does occur to me though that in the internet age, this kind of thing, while remaining possible, will be hard to sustain in the long run. Anyone who is ever approached by Ms Jay can immediately put her name into Google and discover that she cannot be taken at her word. In the internet age a TV producer or journalist stands or falls on their integrity.

Emma Jay's looks to be gone, as does that of Rupert Murray, the guy who dissembled his way into Monckton's confidence. I wonder what these question marks over their trustworthiness will do for their career prospects.

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  • Response
    It's hard to escape the conclusion that Emma Jay grossly misled Delingpole as to the nature of the programme. It does occur to me though that in the internet age, this kind of thing, while remaining possible, will be hard to sustain in the long run. Anyone who is ever approached ...

Reader Comments (88)

Why am I not surprised?

Feb 4, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"In the internet age a TV producer or journalist stands or falls on their integrity"

Same for corporations, would like to be involved in a BBC documentary?

Feb 4, 2011 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

It does occur to me though that in the internet age, this kind of thing, while remaining possible, will be hard to sustain in the long run. Anyone who is ever approached by Ms Jay can immediately put her name into Google and discover that she cannot be taken at her word. In the internet age a TV producer or journalist stands or falls on their integrity.

Emma Jay's looks to be gone, as does that of Rupert Murray, the guy who dissembled his way into Monckton's confidence. I wonder what these question marks over their trustworthiness will do for their career prospects.

They have proved to the BBC they can deliver what is expected of them. They will get more work where that came from.

Feb 4, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

"It's funny, but I don't remember any scientists coming out of the programme so much as ruffled, let alone scathed.", says the good Bishop above.
It is even more funny that, while being in the USA to visit NASA Paul Nurse and/or the BBC producers didn't find it worthwhile to have a chat with e.g. Prof Lindzen, Dr Roy Spencer, nor any of the US scientists ripping holes into the AGW house-of-cards.
Obviously they couldn't speak to both or one of the Big Mc's in Canada ...
One wonders - was Paul Nurse scared to talk to peer-reviewed sceptical scientists?
I find this sort of cherry-picking one's 'adversary' rather dishonest, especially when e.g. Delingpole is brushed aside as not being a scientist.

Feb 4, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Let's hope the prominent sceptics learn from this.

It is obvious that the BBC is determined to promote CAGW and undermine those who question the dogma.

So don't talk to documentary makers.

Feb 4, 2011 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Not sure Bish, in these days of "post-normal" it appears that infamous is now the accepted norm.

Feb 4, 2011 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

‘When you sup with the devil make sure you use a long spoon ‘
Its old saying and very reflective of how people should approach events like this with the media. Their out to sell a story line already decided , you will be used to support that objective .

Feb 4, 2011 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

please leave some comments at Watts Up to let our American friends know about how the BBC behaves.

specific examples best.

Someone has put how to complain to the BBC about this program into Watts Up and at my blog (www.realclimategate.org)
I'm going to make use of it, the more the better.

Feb 4, 2011 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I did ask for a response from the Royal Society for the seven times natural claim, a couple of days ago.
http://royalsociety.org/contact-us/?from=footer

Stating that I was writing an article for Watts Up With That

I was only able to do it via their contact form, the phone just rang, no voice mail..

Obviously, a MSM journalist is able to go through differen channels. I wonder if any will bother.

Feb 4, 2011 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Barry, good thorough article at WUWT.

Here is my take...http://www.cartoonsbyjosh.com/NurseHarrabin_scr.jpg

Feb 4, 2011 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Hello, Could you please help me , Im now reading The Hockey Stick Illusion Footnote 54 gives the address http://climateaudit.org/correspondence/nature.04039b.htm but that redirects to http://climateaudit.org/2007/05/15/nature-blog-withdraws-invitation/ which doesn't contain the information promised namely the commentaries of two peer reviewers. Where can I now find this ?

Feb 4, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

Wonder if she's by any chance one of the political super-dynasty Jays (Peter, Douglas, Margaret etc)?
In which case, her career probably won't be affected one jot ...

Feb 4, 2011 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Hengist McStone

Your link missed out a 0 near end of address, so should be:
http://climateaudit.org/correspondence/nature.040309b.htm

which redirects to:
http://climateaudit.org/2007/05/15/nature-blog-withdraws-invitation/

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterQ

I am sure the BBC will be pleased with them.

Who knows, perhaps they will help 10:10 with their next blockbuster, about how to destroy one's own cause, it is what the Met Office and BBC are doing so well at

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Do you know Barbara, you beat me by four minutes. If she isn't related to the Jay's of Public Service Income fame I'd be most surprised. That is what the BBC is for isn't it to give jobs to the kids of upper middle class toffs who wouldn't otherwise be able to get them in a competitive world.

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

This is just the BBC doing what the BBC does and spending its ever decreasing store of credibility.

CAGW is a core article of faith at the Beeb and propping up green dogma has become a large part of their mission. I haven't listened to the radio much for the last year or so, but when I did, they slipped a reference to CAGW, as if it was unarguable, into every other programme on R4. Continual reinforcement of the message.

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

It is just "post normal" journalism. Much as "post normal" science is bad science fiction, "post normal" journalism is bad journalistic fiction.

Both are subsets of the word "propaganda."

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Thanks Q , I should have learnt to type properly. Im still being redirected to the same page though

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

Emma Jay @emmaajay on Twitter, is the same, I assume?
Two of her tweets on 24 Jan:

We all know that Brian Cox is never wrong.

Horizon looks superb this evening: Sir Paul Nurse investigates the anti-science brigade http://bbc.in/gEA07U

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterQ

Are these Jay's and Murray's first transgressions with respect to biasing their work, or only the first complained about?

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

Hengist McStone

Yes, I agree, I don't think that's the relevant page. I am sure the Bishop will oblige.

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterQ

From the BBC Editorial Guidelines:

The Level of Political Activity

Considerations about the level of the individual's political involvement - nationally or locally - may include, for instance:

* being publicly identified as a candidate or prospective candidate for a parliamentary, assembly or local authority election; no matter that the date of the election is not confirmed;
* holding any office in a party political organisation at a national or local level.
* speaking in public on matters of political controversy or public policy;
* expressing views on matters of political controversy or public policy in books, articles, leaflets, letters in the press, social networking sites, blogs, etc. See BBC Editorial Guidelines Section 15.4.8
* canvassing for a political party or candidate for election.
* demonstrating practical support in the public domain for a political party or candidate, for instance, distributing leaflets, arranging transport etc.
* promoting a partisan view on an issue put to local or national referendum.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/page/guidance-conflicts-political

15.4.8

There are many external activities which are likely to raise issues in connection with conflicts of interests. These range from writing commitments (such as regular articles, columns or blogs), through to political activities, public appearances and media training, to appearing in commercial advertisements and giving endorsements.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/page/guidelines-conflict-of-interest/


Conflicts of Interest
Introduction

The BBC's reputation for impartiality and objectivity is crucial. The public must be able to trust the integrity of BBC programmes and services. Our audiences need to be confident that the BBC's editorial decisions are not influenced by the outside activities or personal or commercial interests of programme makers or those who appear on air.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/page/guidance-conflicts-introduction

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I'm afraid, in our society today, if you have any dealings with the police, lawyers, reporters, councils or government officials, or anyone from the mainstream media you really must, must, must, at a bare minimum, record your conversation.

If they won't speak on the record then you know there is something wrong.

As the saying goes: “just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you".

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

cosmic

Yes, repetition of a message is a sure way to convince people of its truth, backed by solid psychology:
http://www.spring.org.uk/2010/12/the-illusion-of-truth.php

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterQ

Stuck-record

As the saying goes: “just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you".

While it might sound pedantic, paranoia is the unreasonable belief that somebody is out to get you.

With that in mind, we should all keep in mind your advice regarding recording our interactions with authority figures and keep a smart phone with video capability handy so we can record what is going on. That way you can email the clip to your friends as they beat the crap out of you.

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

I'd add that in all my dealings with the media - TV, radio and newspapers - and all those I have observed when colleagues and friends have been involved I can't think of a single substantial instance where I could look at the finished piece and say "Yes, that's both fair and accurate". Sometimes it was "merely" sloppy inaccuracies which could nevertheless have been damaging (a colleague was once described as my wife a newspaper - fortunately I didn't have a real wife). Sometimes it was because they already had their story and they needed a square hole filling even if I was a round block.

Most of the time the subject matter was NOT unduly controversial. None of it was to do with CAGW or remotely green issues. Almost none of it had anything remotely to do with politics, however broadly defined. If the comparatively innocuous stories I personally know about could be so egregious I hate to think what they would have been like if there were serious and emotive issues at stake.

If you find yourself as part of a story, however minor, you have to remind yourself that the reporters/TV crew are NOT your friends, however much they use friendliness as a way to use you. You are raw material. You are a facet of a story. That story is a stepping stone in their career. That story may have nothing to do with what you think is the story or what you are told is the story. They are probably never going to see you again, whatever they say. Nothing about you or your life means a damn to them beyond their story. Whenever you see a reporter openly using underhand techniques in order to get information on, or an interview with, a criminal or dictator, those are the techniques they will use on anyone, however innocent - including you.

If you are ever tempted to think that media exposure would be useful to you, think about how it would feel to be lied about and made to be a laughing stock, villain or worse. If it still feels worth it then go ahead, but don't say you weren't warned.

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Hengist

When CA moved home in the wake of Climategate, everything got rearranged. If you drop me or Steve a line we should be able to email them to you.

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:45 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Only slightly O/T, I see the new Radio Times has two letters about Nurse's Horizon. Both say he didn't go far enough, though strangely there are none pointing out the programme's many shortcomings.

Indeed, one (from some numpty in Liverpool) uses the D word and has yet another go at trying to establish a similarity between climate realism and those who rejected compelling evidence about the damage caused by smoking after being influenced by the tobacco barons' propaganda campaign.

I used to enjoy the Beeb and it still makes quite a few good shows but these days I incline to the view it does far more harm than good. I would see the licence cancelled, the channels made subscription only and smile sadly as the organisation slowly starved to death.

Phil D

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil D

The way I read it, Sir Paul Nurse was either sufficiently informed of the AGW science to be complicit in the Emma Jay distortion from the outset or was not and hence used by her as useful idiot.

Perhaps he & Delingpole should compare notes on the aproaches each received from Jay?

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

I don't know if the Bishop will permit me to repost this, since I have already said it on WUWT.

The Horizon program is just one battle in a long war. Dellingpole and Moncton have lost this battle. Of course you don’t loose a war because of one battle but you don't want to loose too many of them, do you? Most are surprised that these two were suckered. You shouldn’t be. Conservatives are very naïve lot. And vain as well.

They mask their naivete with words like courtesy, civility, high mindedness, politeness. But in the end they are just naïve. Look it, the BBC is big, prestigious, famous, rich, renown, and like the Economist all style but no content. The BBC is a quasi Marxist propaganda machine and will out maneuver conservatives every time.

Feb 4, 2011 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

Hengist

Steve tells me that if you change the URL to climateaudit.info you should find it all.

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:02 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Fraud Act 2006 section 2

2 Fraud by false representation
(1) A person is in breach of this section if he—.
(a)dishonestly makes a false representation, and.
(b)intends, by making the representation—.
(i)to make a gain for himself or another, or.
(ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss..

(2) A representation is false if—.
(a)it is untrue or misleading, and.
(b)the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading..

(3) “Representation” means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of—.
(a)the person making the representation, or.
(b)any other person..

(4) A representation may be express or implied..

(5)For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention)..

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

@Stuck-record

you really must, must, must, at a bare minimum, record your conversation

Yes, it's a bit embarrassing that experienced media types like Delingpole still aren't routinely making their own recording of every interview they give. It's so cheap and easy to do nowadays that there's little reason not to do it even if you have good reason to be confident that the interview and the editing will be friendly. Your own video doesn't have to be broadcast-quality and doesn't have to be edited or otherwise post-produced: the one thing that's really essential is to make sure that your own voice and that of the interviewer are audible.

Similarly, if you're any kind of public figure it's probably wise to keep with you something capable of shooting a few minutes of video anytime you venture out in public, in case of ambush.

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

The worst BBC programme at the moment is Tom Heap (another unqualified person - see his modest blog at http://tomheap.com/?page_id=16) on Radio 4s "Costing the Earth". The Arctic is burning up and climate change or global warming is in every sentence and the melting is causing sea level rise. It truly is pathetic propaganda.

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

....."we are all Alex Fergussan now"......

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered Commentermikef2

I suppose we should put a similar question to Sir Paul Nurse that he used on JD:

If some researchers came to you and said they had found a cure for cancer and we have to give the remedy to everyone in the world at huge cost, but they had not got any actual evidence, and they had deleted the raw data, but it seemed to fit and they had done hundreds of computer runs and some of them showed it might work but we should give it anyway just in case.

Would you give it to the whole population?

One hopes (Gulp) that he would say, firstly I need much more evidence than computer runs, and secondly you have to prove to me beyond any shadow of doubt that this 'cure' is not going to do more harm than good.

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterChrisM

When I did my media training, with a very good BBC man from the World Service, he drummed into me all the time the mantra "a journalist is not your friend".

Private Eye's Dennis Thatcher caricature always referred to journalists as "the reptiles" and that seems a very good visual iimage to retain when talking to one.

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Well that worked well. I Googled "emma jay bbc integrity" and found this thread.
Three cheers for Google!

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

@stuck-record and @anonym: I am puzzled by Delingpole apparently not recording the interviews. Why isn't this routine? Was it really just that he couldn't be bothered, or might he have had some reason to think that it was a bad idea (some arcane gotcha in local law?), or might he in fact have recorded the interviews but it turns out that more context doesn't help his cause, or what?

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Newman

Phil D,

I used to enjoy the Beeb and it still makes quite a few good shows but these days I incline to the view it does far more harm than good. I would see the licence cancelled, the channels made subscription only and smile sadly as the organisation slowly starved to death.

----------

I think what would probably happen is that the parts of it which can make popular programmes would be able to survive on their merits and the rest, most of it as it stands at present, would sink.

We live in a very different world to the one in which the BBC was formed and it's certainly time for a fundamental review including the telly tax. There'd be some squealing in high places as that particular teat dried up, so unfortunately we seem stuck with things as they are.

geronimo had it right above,

"That is what the BBC is for isn't it to give jobs to the kids of upper middle class toffs who wouldn't otherwise be able to get them in a competitive world."

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Excellent work by Barry Woods.

The Biased-BBC website has collected a few relevant links in response to his post, and gives prominence to the mysterious Damascene Seminar in which the BBC folks enjoyed a high-impact epiphany:

'There is much that is important in Mr Woods' post, but I don’t think the principal question he poses is quite the issue. The programme was a product of a much deeper and much older malaise. The “breaking of faith” by the BBC with audiences, its Charter and common sense – as has been admirably documented by Bishop Hill and Harmless Sky - happened several years ago, when, in a secret meeting crammed with political activists and warmists, it bizarrely decided that the science behind climate change was settled.'

http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2011/02/water-off-ducks-back.html

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Emma Jay was involved in the CBBC Serious TV series where groups of eight 12 to 15-year-olds embarked on expeditions to extreme parts of the world, in order to help wildlife or assist in environmental and climate change projects. Emma Jay was one the expedition leaders on Serious Arctic (2005) dealing specifically with climate change.

Rupert Murray directed the fake documentary Unknown White Male (2005). The film was about a close friend of Murray's, Doug Bruce who appeared to suffer from sudden retrograde amnesia in New York in 2003. It transpired that prior to this incident in 2003 a close colleague of Doug Bruce had suffered from actual amnesia due to a head trauma.

If you know where these people are coming from you learn to be sceptical of what they say.

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Bish,

This kind of thing has been standard in journalism forever. Dan Rather's career soared to the national stage in the US when he lied about Texans on national tv after the Kennedy assassination. Fred Friendly was much beloved in media circles after ambushing Goldwater in the same manner as Ms. Jay. For journalists, the only issue is whether the dishonesty is used to screw the right kind of people. If the work product promotes the left politically, it's great stuff. That's how they define integrity.

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

George are you suggesting a long march on the institutions?

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterFay Tuncay

Barry Woods

I was reading your contribution on WUWT last night and thought it excellent, so I'm pleased that The Bishop has linked to it. The BBC and the Royal Society acted disgracefully in my opinion. The propaganda descent toward deliberate denigration of prominent sceptics is repugnant, and particularly in view of their public status as supposed pillars of the establishment.

Feb 4, 2011 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Oh, come one, Mr Montford. I'm an enormous fan of yours, but HELL, the naivete!

Integrity is career-limiting at the Beeb, the Royal Society, possibly the UK in general. Look at Harrabin, Black, Rees/Nurse, Oxburgh, Bouldon, the hacks on the Science and Technology committee (with the exception of Stringer.)

Only Stringer, of all the establishment people to deal with Climategate (disregarding Delingpole, since he's in the nu-media bit of the Telegraph, and Lawson, since it represents something of a second coming) can look the public in the eye without conscience problems.

No integrity has been no problem up till now.

Feb 4, 2011 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterDead Dog Bounce

DDB

My point was more that they will find it difficult to get in people's front doors if this is the way they behave. Maybe the BBC will move Ms Jay onto different duties now.

Feb 4, 2011 at 4:15 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Worth putting here?

From: “Emma Jay” [email address removed by author]

Date: 3 August 2010 19:25:08 GMT+01:00

To: James [email address removed by author]

Subject: BBC Horizon

Dear James

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you on this email address but I was given it by Louise Gray at the Telegraph.

I am making a film for BBC’s Horizon on public trust in science and I was hoping you may be able to help.

The film will explore our current relationship with science, whether we as a society do and should trust it. It is being presented by the nominated President of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse. If he is voted in later this summer he will be taking over the at RS at the end of the year at around the same time the film will be transmitted so it would very much launch his presidency. The premise will be ‘This is a turbulent time for science. After the debacles of Climate-gate, GM products and MMR, I want to explore why science isn’t trusted and whether we as scientists are largely to blame’. By looking at these different areas he will dig into the difficult questions of how to deal with uncertainty in science, the communication of this uncertainty, and the difficulties when science meets policy and the media.

The tone of the film is very questioning but with no preconceptions. On the issue of who is to blame no-one will be left unscathed, whether that is science sceptics, the media or most particularly scientists themselves. Sir Paul is very aware of the culpability of scientists and that will come across in the film. They will not be portrayed as white coated magicians who should be left to work in their ivory towers – their failings will be dealt with in detail.

Now obviously one of the other great areas of contention is when science meets the media. Much as most scientists would like their papers to be published unedited in the mainstream media that obviously does not work. We will be visiting the newsroom of a national newspaper (most likely the Times although we have also been talking to the Telegraph) to explore the realities of where science fits in the news agenda, but I also want to explore the equally important role of the online world.

As an influential blogger on climate change, among other subjects, I’d really like Paul to meet you and chat to you about your views – how you see your role and that more generally the influence of the internet in changing the debate; your views on climate-gate and how that was handled by the media; the failings or otherwise of scientists in communicating the science.

Filming would be on the afternoon of 18 August ideally.

If you are interested please drop me a line or give me a call.

Kind regards

Emma Jay
Producer/Director
BBC Vision Productions

Feb 4, 2011 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Many, many years ago, a business I ran had a high profile dispute with a government department.

I was interviewed by BBC National News, ITN, BBC Local News, BBC Today Programme and another Radio 4 programme - over the space of a couple of weeks.

It was a steep learning curve and the behaviour of almost all the journalists I came into contact with made me vow never to willingly speak to one again - and I never have.

I'm quite surprised that Dellers and Monckton have survived so long in the media jungle without developing any defence mechanisms.

Feb 4, 2011 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Possibly one reason for the group think: here.

Feb 4, 2011 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

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