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« Technology issues | Main | Corruption, calamity and silliness »
Wednesday
Oct082014

The BMJ's supersleuth

You have to laugh. Having been on the receiving end of some mild GWPF criticism for its eccentric decision to devote a large chunk of one of its issues to global warming, the British Medical Journal has retaliated. Ooh er!

The august journal has wheeled out its investigations editor, one Deborah Cohen, who has doggedly unearthed the truth behind the wicked people who have dared to challenge it. And being a highly skilled investigations editor, she has been able to get to all those hidden facts that normal people would just have missed.

Actually, she seems to have stuck "GWPF" into Google and has found her way to DeSmog.

The GWPF has been accused of secrecy about its funding streams since it was set up in 2009 as an educational charity. But two major donors were “outed” last month on investigative blog, DeSmog UK, and both confirmed their donations to the Guardian. The two funders—Lord Nigel Vinson, a wealthy industrialist, and Neil Record, the founding chairman of a currency management company—have ties to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), which has admitted to taking funding from fossil fuel companies and which has also argued against climate change mitigation.

Impressive sleuthing eh? I mean, when it announced the setup of its campaigning arm, the GWPF website said that the new organisation would feature as director the aforementioned Mr Record. This, "outing" says Ms Cohen, was the work of the gumshoes at "investigative blog DeSmog UK". And now Ms Cohen has herself also uncovered the truth! Again! Or something.

She seems find something amiss in the GWPF being funded by people with ties to the IEA, but it's not obvious what her line of reasoning is. Perhaps I just can't understand her super-clever investigatorial logic. You see, after discussing GWPF's funders, she moves on to a discussion of conflicts of interest in the funding of medical experiments. The insinuation seems to be that GWPF has a conflict of interest. However, because she is so canny, Ms Cohen seems to feel that it is entirely unnecesssary to spell out how funding from a currency manager could represent a conflict of interest in the climate debate.

Similarly, I'm slight unclear as to why Ms Cohen is so worked up about people from the IEA appearing on the BBC:

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme featured an interview with the IEA’s Mark Littlewood, who said that there is no evidence that uniform packaging affects the number of people who smoke. The programme failed to point out that the IEA takes money from Philip Morris, among others.

Well I suppose so. So I assume Ms Cohen would similarly like to condemn her editor, Fiona Godlee, whose editorial devoted to the subject of climate change did not reveal that she is involved with the Energy and Climate Change Intelligence Unit, the new green think tank run by Richard Black and funded by a variety of green-tinged industrialists.

We look forward to Ms Cohen's investigation and Dr Godlee's subsequent resignation.

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Reader Comments (52)

Oh come come My Lord, you know very well that that is entirely different.....

Oct 8, 2014 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Deborah Cohen reminds me of the Gerry & Sylvia Anderson's puppet programmes. You could see puppets with the strings, mouths of sync mouths and the weird walks.

Funding and evil influence is one of the corner stones of the Green taliban. They just love to use tenuous conections to expose those evil deniers. Unfortunately the seem to miss all the fossil fuel money that has gone into the environmentalst movement and the billions of public money! As well as the academia/Green connections!

Oct 8, 2014 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Are any doctors (medical ones) readers of BH? What do they think of the BMJ's stance?

Oct 8, 2014 at 9:40 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"Global warming" obviously exists because we can observe one of its effects; it makes the chattering classes feel good about themselves!"

Oct 8, 2014 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

"An ethical person - like a politician, banker or lawyer - may know right from wrong, but unlike many of them, a moral person lives it. "Marx and Engels never tried to refute their opponents with argument. They insulted, ridiculed, derided, slandered, and traduced them, and in their use of these methods their followers are not less expert. Their polemic is directed never against the argument of the opponent, but always against his person." Anon.

Could have been written for Ms. Cohen.

Oct 8, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Lohse

I don't suppose it occurs to her that the IEA might have argued against 'climate change mitigation' because it has considered the matter from an economic standpoint and concluded that CCM is a complete waste of time?

She might put her investigative powers to use enquiring why the GMC remains a registered charity, when it gets no donations from the public, and throws its considerable weight about pursuing doctors who dare to express an unfashionable opinion...

Link

Oct 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Martin A, Probably similar to many of the Science Societies, the membership likely didn't have a say, and many GPs and medics would probably take one look at the so-called 'evidence' for CC (the IPCC climate models and associated rants, ravings and tantrums of the CC high priests) and laugh.

Oct 8, 2014 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterilma

Taking baby steps in an adult world. Where has she been?.

Oct 8, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterCeetee

I find it amusing that being linked to "neo-conservative" and "neo-liberal" and "wealthy industrialists" and "right-wing think tanks" is used as ammunition to persuade people that their aims must be nefarious, at the same time that voters are tending to return parties linked to the right.

So why do they think that linking the GWPF to industrialists is going to have any effect at all on the average person?

While I like to know what policy groups are linked to industrialists, I don't distrust them any less than academic policy groups. And I trust them a sight more than the likes of WWF and Greenpeace.

Oct 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

I followed the link, curious as to why the BMJ feels the need to stick its oar in. The comment below from "Earnest Green" seems to be a parody, but it's hard to be sure these days.

Oct 8, 2014 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

The identity of the GWPF's donors would have recieved far less attention if the GWPF had been open about them from the beginning

Oct 8, 2014 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterHengist

Kelly Down - I am glad I am not the only one! I laughed at the comment and then saw it was from the Green Party and thought perhaps it's serious, even though the name Earnest Green sounds like satire.

Oct 8, 2014 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

HahHahhHHa that's funny Hingst!

Given the penchant for violence and intimidation your green brothers have its just as well the GPWF doesn't make its list of donors available. I'd certainly be concerned about the threat to my family's safety from green protesters if I was identified as a major GPWF donor.

Mailman

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered Commentermailman

I too saw Earnest Green and thought immediately the clown was an idiot.

Then again if you have been brain washed by all that catastrophilia that passes for rigorous science these days the EG is exactly the kind of person you expect to see more of these days.

Regards

Mailman

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered Commentermailman

Hengist is a troll, thought he was banned for making unsubstantiated allegations against our host about 2 years ago. Best ignored.

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Difficult to know where to start with this, isn't it?
GWPF, which was set up to argue that the policies put in place by government to combat global warming don't make sense, is vilified by the BMJ whose connection with global warming is, to say the least, tenuous.
And all because GWPF, which at least knows something about global warming, has the temerity to suggest that the BMJ, whose remit is supposedly things medical (the title gves it away) would be better employed sticking to what it knows.
Weird.

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"The august journal has wheeled out its investigations editor, one Deborah Cohen, ...."

A graduate of the Inspector Clouseau School of Sleuthing, perhaps?

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

she quotes "DeSmog UK", she obviously didn't bother to research the distinctly dodgy background of DeSmog Blog..otherwise she wouldn't think they have any credibility

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:40 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

"Actually, she seems to have stuck "GWPF" into Google and has found her way to DeSmug."

That had me in fits of laughter. I just hope no one I know ever gets treated by anyone who goes to Desmug

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:41 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Martin A at 9.40 am. I sent the BH link to a retired GP friend. His response? " It grieves me that I pay a subscription to the BMJ to read such garbage"

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Hanwell

Oh dear, it appears bmj doesn't like strong opinions on they'd site! Nothing like a little bit of censorship eh!

Mailman

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered Commentermailman

I laughed at the comment and then saw it was from the Green Party and thought perhaps it's serious

Anybody can cut and paste a Green Party logo. The Green Party could complain, I suppose, but they probably agree with that gibberish, satirical or not.

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

This is the British Medical Journal, a MEDICAL journal. That's some standards right there.

Oct 8, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

kellydown. duh! I'm too naïve for this.

Oct 8, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Ms, Cohen is just another clueless climate kook. In her bizarre-o world any public participation by people she does not approve of is a moral calamity. Yet she laps up the astro-turfed paid for bilge of desmog and Grantham's lapdog Ward without hesitation.
The only interesting thing is to watch how she and her fellow faux journalists leave records which allow us all to give their ilk the ridicule and disdain they so richly deserve.

Oct 8, 2014 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Deborah Cohen is investigations editor for The BMJ.

*This blog incorrectly said “Christopher Snowdon” was on BBC’s Question Time on publication. The blog was correctly updated to say “Mark Littlewood” on 8 October 2014. Apologies for this error.

Was this the Mark Littlewood that was on BBC’s Question Time on 30 Jan 2014?

Oct 8, 2014 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

To quote Earnest-Green, "..other top scientists like Jim Yong Kim and Desmond Tutu in raising public awareness".

I am not aware of the scientist Desmond Tutu.

I am aware of the compassionate Archbishop but his source of knowledge is faith not science.

Clearly the BMJ should stick to faith healing and forget about this modern medicine.

Oct 8, 2014 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

Using Ms Cohen's impeccable logic and her incredible investigative techniques I've discovered an even greater threat than AGW -

AGP = Anthropogenic Global Prescribing!

This is massive - the wealthy industrialists behind Big Pharma (or as I now call them, 'Drug Barons') not only take money from Big Finance but are extensive users of Big Oil products. Imagine my horror when I discovered that the medications prescribed by my friendly GP come from these self same Drug Barons. Even more alarming, they contain chemicals! And it gets worse - this is a global problem!

I must write to my GP immediately and demand that he stops all prescribing at once (except for me of course! I have taken the Hypocritic Oath so that I can further the cause).

Wow! I feel better about myself already. Could this be the placebo effect I've heard about?

/sarc

Oct 8, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRayJ

As the admirable John Brignell pointed out, "In their own words, they boast “Now we have gone a step further, with the publication of an article that contains no medicine or healthcare at all.”

http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/2014_october.htm

Sad to see what used to be one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world turned into a partisan political pamphlet.

Oct 8, 2014 at 1:56 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

“Now we have gone a step further, with the publication of an article that contains no medicine or healthcare at all.”

I had to check that, just to make sure that it wasn't sarcasm or rhetorical flourish. It's true. They really did say it. On the BMJ website.

Oct 8, 2014 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Having said that, this is not the funniest publication the BMJ has ever issued.
Back in 1999 they published
"Magnetic resonance imaging of male and female genitals during coitus and female sexual arousal."
BMJ. Dec 18, 1999; 319(7225): 1596–1600.
PMCID: PMC28302

The best bit comes at the end, in the acknowledgements where they state:

"P van Andel does not want to be acknowledged for his idea of using MRI to study coitus."
I wonder how many people at the BMJ will not want to be acknowledged for their role in green political activism?

Oct 8, 2014 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Like the vast majority of fraud deniers, they are just trying to look cool and politically correct. The creation of the cage of right wing nutters that is the GWPF makes it very easy to condemn opposition to AGW.

Around half off the Guardian's coverage of the subject is perfectly valid attacks on the lunatic fringe represented by Lord Lawson, Lord Ridley, Lord Monckton and self created Anne Coulter impersonator, James Delingpole,. I wouldn't be surprised if Monckton was on the Guardian payroll. :-)

Oct 8, 2014 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

@ Mailman,
You seem to have forgotten "the importance of being Earnest".

Oct 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Norman

“Now we have gone a step further, with the publication of an article that contains no medicine or healthcare at all.”

That's because they see it as the moral crusade of this generation (against predatory capitalism). Very few will bother to wonder why the most vicious government in recent history supports it.

Oct 8, 2014 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

esmiff "cage of right wing nutters that is the GWPF" , if true just how mad and bad does not make the 'Team ' and the kiddies form SS lands ?

Oct 8, 2014 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

knr

Agreed, they are a lot worse. I am simply reflecting public perceptions, particularly at the Guardian where the debate takes place and where many influential individuals will experience it.

Oct 8, 2014 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

I do wonder, after (re)-reading my latest chapter of Le Carre's Smiley novels, whether Earnest is not our old friend Pointman having a bit of fun. Oops, sorry if I've blown your cover, Pointman. But then again, they are not likely to be reading here. :)

Oct 8, 2014 at 4:40 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Click on Earnest's name to read his other comments - I don't think he is a true CAGW believer!

Oct 8, 2014 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterGuirme

'Earnest' is clearly a spoof, and rather a good one: "a tiny little organisation like the BMA and the huge all-powerful GWPF"

I wonder how long it will take the moderator(s) to notice?

I liked Dick Puddlecote's comment, too: "But you still publish studies paid for by pharmaceutical companies. Go figure."

Poor Deborah must be feeling a bit wounded by now...

Oct 8, 2014 at 6:28 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

E. Smiff the Guardian , thankfully , does represent public perceptions. It is its own little rats nest of true believers who via with each other to out hate the 'deniers ' After handing itself over the poor cartoonists side-kick and his 97% buddies it actual managed to go down hill , from its position of blind and unquestioning faith under Monbat .

Its true it punches well above its circulation thanks to the fact it is an 'establishment' paper of the North London chatter classes whose hands on far to much power . But its no where near a 'voice of the public' many of which it actually does not like at all.

Oct 8, 2014 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

On the headpost link to BMJ the tag cloud shows "climate change" has the same prominence as Cancer and more than depression, diabetes, HIV....

But then, it probably causes all of those.

/sarc

Oct 8, 2014 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

KNR

I agree with you, but high powered opinion makers like journalists and academics do read the Guardian. Deborah Cohen is an excellent example.

It is said that very few people bought Velvet Underground albums, but everyone who did, formed a band. Same thing said about the Sex Pistols gig in Manchester.

Oct 8, 2014 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

Not a good background. Age, far too young.
-- http://haieurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Deborah-Cohen-Biography.pdf

And integrity?

"The BMJ did at least disclose that one of its expert authors, David Langton, is also an expert witness in a class action lawsuit in the United States in relation to the DePuy ASR MoM implant. But it chose not to declare that he is in a relationship with the BMJ’s investigations’ editor, Deborah Cohen, who wrote the other article and presented the Newsnight film, and who had declared the relationship to the BMJ. Dr Cohen introduced Mr Langton to the other authors, but the BMJ says there is no financial relationship between them, so it did not need to be declared to its readers. Many orthopaedic surgeons and hip manufacturers who were aware of the relationship have other views and in MD’s opinion, the BMJ should either have declared it or simply removed one of these authors from the investigation."
-- http://drphilhammond.com/blog/2012/09/19/private-eye/private-eye-1323/

Oct 8, 2014 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Channon

Off topic - did anyone notice Ed Davey's conference speech where he said electricity generation using coal will be banned from 2020 (or 2025, I forget) if the Lib Dums are in government after the next election?

Oct 8, 2014 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

"...[I]t's not obvious what her line of reasoning is..."

Because she doesn't have one. She must thus resort immediately to ad hominem arguments, the fallacy of choice for spittle-spewing, anti-science Lysenkoists.

Oct 9, 2014 at 2:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Well spotted, Tim.

Apparently, the fact that your lover is involved up to the neck (sorry!) is not worthy of mention.

But, if someone got a cheque for fifty quid from a politically incorrect source, or has a balanced share portfolio - put the dogs on them!

Oct 9, 2014 at 4:30 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

I have the answer. Instead of the state as now now giving its entire climate science budget to corrupt, precommitted alarmists working hard to justify more taxes to fatten their paymaster, it gives only half to them and the other half to sceptics and others also actually interested in the truth. Then noone need scratch fro pennies from the likes of cigarrette companies anymore.

Oct 9, 2014 at 7:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterTuppence

I'm a Doctor. The BMJ has been a joke for years, run by interventionist health fascists.

Ignore.

Oct 9, 2014 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy

The British medical profession's prime allegiance is not the patient but the NHS. This close association with the state has encouraged delusions of omniscience and omnipotence. I say this as a doctor trained in another system that produced maverick independent thinkers, cautious to make judgements outside our expertise. Despite being abundantly remunerated by the NHS, my time there made me feel morally compromised and permanently constrained from doing my best for the patient by management. Those doctors who thrive in this environment would have made good commissars in another.

Oct 9, 2014 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterLjh

despotsblog?

I thought they shut down last year.

Ms. Cohen's visits there likely boosted their monthly visitations threefold.

Oct 10, 2014 at 6:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

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