Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« The BBC goes dark - Josh 267 | Main | Flush with success - Josh 266 »

Protecting scientists


In his Mail on Sunday article today (keep scrolling) David Rose reveals that the BBC - at least in Scotland - has a new policy of protecting climatologists from challenge on air.

A BBC executive in charge of editorial standards has ordered programme editors not to broadcast debates between climate scientists and global warming sceptics.

Alasdair MacLeod claimed that such discussions amount to ‘false balance’ and breach an undertaking to the Corporation’s watchdog, the BBC Trust.

Mr MacLeod, head of editorial standards and compliance for BBC Scotland, sent an email on  February 27 to 18 senior producers and editors, which has been obtained by The Mail on Sunday.

It reads: ‘When covering climate change stories, we should not run debates / discussions directly between scientists and sceptics.

If dissenters from the climate consensus are not to be allowed to put their case directly, there is presumably little point in having those arguments put by BBC interviewers. So from now on the pronouncements of climatologists will be treated as holy writ and the most alarmist scientists can be allowed to scaremonger without fear of contradiction. The consensus over the existence of the greenhouse effect is used  as a pretence that all aspects of the climatology are beyond debate.

Coming so soon after the brouhaha over the Lawson/Hoskins discussion on the Today programme, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the BBC are dancing to the tune of the environmental movement. The effects of the 28gate seminar seem to live on.

The end of the licence fee cannot come soon enough.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (60)

If the "science is settled", what are they so afraid of? Besides, when was it in the BBC's Charter to take sides in scientific and political debates?

As a danged furriner (Australian), I have to put up with the same sort of crap from the ABC. But none of their executives has so far been stupid enough to put their political prejudices on paper.

Mar 23, 2014 at 9:28 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Can someone comment on whether or not this breeches the BBC Charter?

Mar 23, 2014 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterFred Colbourne

This should cheer you up. It’s about cherry picking. It parallels the dishonest catastrophic man made global warming myth.

The vilification of saturated fat by Ancel Keys began two decades before the seven countries study, where Keys showed a curvilinear association between fat calories as a percentage of total calories and death from degenerative heart disease from six countries. However, he excluded data from 16 countries that did not fit his hypothesis. Indeed, data were available at the time from 22 countries, and when all countries were looked at the association was greatly diminished.

Skew the facts to fit the theory. Doesn’t that sound familiar? From


The moral of the story is that not only has very recent research now shown that Keys was wrong, wrong, wrong, but that his dishonesty elevated mortality rates from heart disease & cancer. It’s all in this BMJ paper published 5th March 2104.

The cardiometabolic consequences of replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats: Do the dietary guidelines have it wrong?

Just in case the significance of the Keys saga is not blatantly obvious, M. Mann pulled the same trick with his hockey stick, although his dishonesty was discovered more quickly.

It took sixty years & countless early deaths to overthrow the Keys legacy. May we not have to wait so long to reverse the vilification of Carbon Dioxide & we can breathe again without guilt.

Mar 23, 2014 at 9:31 AM | Registered Commenterperry

If the science is settled and sceptics are just a small band of idiots, why are they so scared of debate?

Given the level of incompetence and sycophancy amongst climate "scientists", fear seems to be the real reason. Climate "scientist" readily (and eagerly) take public money but are such cowards when it comes to exposing their work public scrutiny. This is not academic freedom, more like extortion!

Nice to see the BBC protecting these poor harassed "scientists" from the real world. The BBC was once a beacon and now it is in terminal decline due to its dishonesty.

"The end of the licence fee cannot come soon enough." A growing number of the public agree!

Mar 23, 2014 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

'in this BMJ paper published 5th March 2104.' really.?..bish you might want to alter this :-)

Mar 23, 2014 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterMicrotus agrestis

'When covering climate change stories, we should not run debates / discussions directly between scientists and sceptics.'
'We did not specify that the BBC should not broadcast debates / discussions between scientists and sceptics.'

The policy only relates to climate change stories, certainly not scientists in general (because they are sceptical). Of course, the policy would exclude climate sceptics who are climate scientists (because they have only opinions). I hope this protection is now clear. We may like to thank the unique way in which our national information service is funded.

Mar 23, 2014 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Not entirely OT:

Episode one of W1A is avaliable on the iPlayer for those who didn't watch it last night. I thought it was brilliant. Apparently it's not a documentary, it's a spoof. So they say.

Mar 23, 2014 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

Coming so soon after the brouhaha over the Lawson/Hoskins discussion on the Today programme, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the BBC are dancing to the tune of the environmental movement. The effects of the 28gate seminar seem to live on.

This strikes me as a really serious move by the BBC in Scotland. But isn't it more to do with the Jones review? The environmental movement meantime is in violent agreement with Rose and the MoS on something else. As another subhead on the same page has it:

Greens hail MoS expose of forests destroyed to give UK 'clean' energy

There is for me something organised in such moves in the state broadcaster, moves that are anti-democratic and destructive of freedom of expression. I may be unusual but I don't see the organising centred in outfits like FoE and Greenpeace, though it certainly uses them.

Mar 23, 2014 at 9:45 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

pronouncements of climatologists will be treated as holy writ
the irony is that that pronouncements of religious people are not treated as holy writ by the same BBC

looks like climatologists are now even above 'god'

Mar 23, 2014 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

Rejoice, as this is quite an achievement - a DOUBLE own goal from both the greens and the BBC.

Closing down dissent is highlighted yet again to be a deliberate stifling tactic of the political left, which never goes down well with the British publics sense of fair play.

And as this is regarding now almost non-existent global warming the injustice will simply burn a little stronger, especially when the public sees catastrophic predictions diverge ever more wildly from actual observations.

There's a credibility gap looming, but it's not on our side of the debate.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

There is no clear distinction made in public debate between the "scientific" projections of climate catastrophe and matters of policy. To identify a potential problem does not mean it is a catastrophic one. Nor does it mean there is a policy capable of preventing that problem. Nor does it mean that policy-makers have the ability to successfully implement the policy. Nor does it mean that policy will not have adverse consequences.
As there are never any clear boundaries between science and policy, there will be no challenges allowed to in-expert comments relating to policy.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

I can see the sketch.

A trembling, teary scientist sits in front of a TV audience while a BBC interviewer crouches before him in the style of Jeremy Kyle. A sceptic is being held on the floor by two black shirted bouncers.

INTERVIEWER Don't worry, you can talk. You're amongst friends. We won't let the swine get near you.
SCIENTIST He made me... He made me lose my paper. He was so cruel. He threatened me with libel and [sob] it was... it was retracted. The editors said that these things happen sometimes when the paper is badly formed but I know who is responsible. My sweet little paper didn't stand a chance. It was part of both of us. Without him there would be no paper but he rejected it, said that it looked nothing like him. [sob].

Seriously, could the consensus side be more hopeless?

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

In summary, tyrants are cowards.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

'Between scientist and skeptic scientists.' There, fixed it for them.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

The deeper they dig themselves in, the more embarrassed they will live out their remaining years. This is the melt down, beginning in earnest. The American Physical Society may begin the avalanch that topples public support of the entire left wing of Western politics, academic liberal arts, and soft sciences, all becoming the brunt of jokes for a millennium, just as the Dutch tulip craze of the 1600s lives on in popular culture today as an example of crazed idiocy. The number one cable news network in the US is practically now an offshoot of Marc Morano's with regular help from both and That those do deeply invested in climate alarm are not just letting it fade away but are now actively making a big fuss about supporting it to the bitter end actually puts lots of new pressure on working scientists since a soft landing is no longer in the works.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

From the article:

"Mr MacLeod wrote that the reason the Trust decided that there should be no attempt by the BBC to give equal weight to opposing sides on climate change was that sceptics’ views were ‘based on opinion rather than demonstrable scientific validity’. [my bold]

Well, that's news to me, that AGW is 'demonstrable scientific and valid'. I'd like to see it demonstrated. As for 'opinion', I have a feeling that if MacLeod was given the Harryreadme comments and not given the context, other than they were something to do with AGW, he would dump them as being an 'opinion' - and a fudged one at that.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:28 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Tiny CO2
They may be hopeless, but they seem to be winning. Our best hope I think is in a wise observation once made by Tony Newbery of Harmless Sky: there's nothing journalists hate more than being told who they can and can't interview.
I reject most strongly the Bish's conclusion that the answer lies in the abolition of the BBC. The BBC has a Charter. If they choose to use it as Lew paper they can at least be criticised and held to account. If Sky News refuses to talk to sceptics there's nothing you can do.
Cheshire Red
Yes, Mussolini's abolition of democracy was an own goal too. It was very unpopular among the people he imprisoned and got him an awful lot of bad publicity.
Richard Drake
I agree the BBC are not the simple puppets of Greenpeace and FoE. More thoughts on that would be interesting.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:31 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Ah yes. One must have "proper" tyranny in the UK these days.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

geoffchambers and then again, maybe not.

It's not a promise to be fair but they're now nervous about appearing biased. That's another step forward.

1) Be unaware of sceptics
2) Mock sceptics
3) Secretly try to shut sceptics up
4) Publicly try to shut sceptics up.
5) Admit that 4) was wrong, even as an ass covering excercise.

Until recently you never heard a real sceptic opinion on the BBC irrespective of official policy. Things ARE changing.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

What ''consensus'' over the GHE????

A claim that cannot be substantiated.

Considering the theory violates the laws of thermodynamics renders it impossible. If it worked dry deserts would be cooler than rainforests. They are hotter.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

The most insulting word known to man is for you Alasdair MacLeod.

Mar 23, 2014 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterIbrahim

By “climatologist” do you think that they also include “climastrologists” (one who can foretell the future by complex computer models) and “climatastrophists” (one who is convinced that any change in the climate is of human origin, so, by definition, will result in doom and destruction unless we – note: NOT they – revert to subsistence living)?

There are many sane, sensible climatologists (e.g. Prof Lindzen), but an awful lot of the latter two who seem to get oodles of air time, without any question from the BBC.

Mar 23, 2014 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

It's war. Wake up and smell it.

Mar 23, 2014 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

...The end of the licence fee cannot come soon enough....

Ended in my house a couple of years ago.

Mar 23, 2014 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer


I agree the BBC are not the simple puppets of Greenpeace and FoE. More thoughts on that would be interesting.

Wouldn't they just. Here's two:

1. There's something profoundly anti-democratic and inimical to freedom of expression in what BBC Scotland is trying to do. But if you've got the power to do that, why stop with Greenpeace-level concerns? Why not come to see that creeping fascism is a whole lot of fun when it gives you such a nice view of yourself compared to your fellow-man? Power corrupts and all that. Greenery was only the way in. And that corruption began way back.

2. Take the areas where David Rose and the Mail on Sunday are currently in agreement with key greens, like biofuel directives. Can we really imagine BBC Scotland highlighting that little fact by having a roundtable with a scientist, Rose, Fred for FoE and a PR guy from a global agribusiness raking it in through the aforesaid scam. What about someone from Oxfam to represent the very poor, since they finally saw the light on the issue. What about Paul Collier from Oxford who's been passionately against for many years more? OK, big panel! Where are the sceptics here and where are the 97%? But can you see Alasdair MacLeod or anyone like him being able cope with 'balance' such as this. The only real constant is that the needs of the poor must only be represented in the year 2100 or beyond and then only in the fantasy land of climate and economic models. Anything in the here and now is verboten, however deadly. That's consensus for you, in practice.

That wasn't very well worked out, sorry, but thanks for the question/whatever it was :)

Mar 23, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


The Bishop didn't say end the BBC, he said end the licence fee.

Mar 23, 2014 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

BBC bias in a number of subjects is in its culture, in its very DNA. The organisation recruits mainly through the Guardian and it only recruits people with the same mindset. These people do not realise that they are biased. They think that their progressive, intellectual grasp of world affairs is main stream and they cannot understand the cranks, deniers and genuinely nasty people who populate the ranks of Europhobes, climate sceptics and those who wish to reduce the welfare budget.

The BBC therefore promotes its own world view in its programmes with a sense of righteousness. Dissenting voices are either ignored or ridiculed. Interviews are generally conducted with sensible people but occasionally an opposing voice is heard while the BBC presenter holds his nose with distaste.

The BBC regards accusations of bias as the unjustified irrational rantings of those who do not have the capability to understand the facts. Sometimes the facts appear to challenge the views held by the BBC. Such cases are not reported. Quite frequently the news not reported by the BBC is more important than the bit they do report.

In my view the BBC News Group is incapable of understanding, let alone reforming its ingrained bias. It should be closed down.

Mar 23, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterSC

It's called 'consensorship'

Mar 23, 2014 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Geary

If they demand that they:

.. should not run debates / discussions directly between scientists and sceptics

they are inadvertently admitting that they've lost the plot. Every scientist needs to be a skeptic (of every claim made by anybody), that's what 'Nullius in verba' is about!

What they probably meant (without understanding the implications of it) is:

"we should not run debates / discussions directly between [believing academics] and sceptic[al scientists]"

The fact that they equate belief and affiliation with 'scientist' is almost as revealing as the false contradiction between 'scientist' and skeptic.

Mar 23, 2014 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

If you think the BBC is bad, just try tuning to BBC Scotland - it is worse by several orders of magnitude.

Mar 23, 2014 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterGummerMustGo

At least with a newspaper, buyers can select the flavour of propaganda they choose to buy.

Mar 23, 2014 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

False consciousness, false balance, false whatever. It is a standard trick by the left to deal with contradictions that they find inconvenient. Just declare that they are false facts, made up in the head of someone who hasn't been properly "educated", and don't talk about them.

Mar 23, 2014 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterrxc

FAO Josh;

One for you..

Mar 23, 2014 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

2 license fees: a bolshevik one, for the libtards in Scotland
and the usual champagne socialist one, for the gullible in England and Wales?

This way we have smart policies tailored to the needs of the populists

Mar 23, 2014 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

James Evans, yes, no, absolutely. Sorting BBC policy on climate sounds like a task for the new Head of Values Ian Fletcher. So that's all good.

Mar 23, 2014 at 2:03 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Truly the British Bigotry Corporation.

Mar 23, 2014 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

The BBC as an institution still thinks that 'science' is something done by other people in white coats. If it largely recruits people with this mindset then it will continue to make these kind of mistakes.

That is not to say there is nobody inside the BBC capable of throwing such foolishness out of the window, but it is not done through any deep understanding or knowledge of science:

"It is absolutely not the BBC's job to save the planet."
Newsnight editor Peter Barron, at the Edinburgh Festival in 2007.
Note: At the Edinburgh International Television Festival. Not the Science Festival.

Peter Horrocks, head of BBC television news, also wrote

"It is not the BBC's job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject."

It seems much of the BBC cannot even understand the above statements, never mind the science.

Mar 23, 2014 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

So we now can see they know they are wrong, but are too cowardly to discuss it.

Mar 23, 2014 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

BBC balance policy note.

1. People who behead women and children in order to instill terror must not be called 'terrorists', but can be interviewed on air.

2. People who disagree with climate alarmism are 'deniers' and are to prevented from appearing on air.

Mar 23, 2014 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

How BBC's 'selection bias' affects the public

Public - "I don't see any skeptical argument, so they can't be very good"

Mar 23, 2014 at 3:24 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The BBC Trust ought to make a public statement bringing the BBC firmly to heel.

What the BBC have admitted is that it will censor evidence and enquiry in matters of public political POLICY, where it goes against a BBC view such as its recently revealed 28Climategate views.

Such continued institutional arrogance will surely lead to more corruption, scandal and perversion within the BBC, and that is a matter for the Trust.

Mar 23, 2014 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerekp


R4 'Today' granted an interview to Anjem Choudary, truly a man of reason and integrity.

Is it not a mirror on the soul of the BBC - because as it is with certain creeds, so it is with the green religion, where no dissent shall be countenanced.

The BBC, no reason, no objectivity: no argument.

Mar 23, 2014 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Unless global warming resumes in the very near the teenagers reaching voting age will not have experienced global warming in their lifetimes. Has that fact occurred to anyone in the BBC, or would they regard it as just an "opinion"?

Mar 23, 2014 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Does the BBC Scotland have the same policy towards non-mainstream medicine such as the sort supported by The PoW?

Mar 23, 2014 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Complain to Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Tell her that the BBC Trust approved the bias when they commissioned Jones to write his report on the reporting of science by the BBC. Tell her that taxpayers should not be forced by law to pay for propaganda they do not want.

Mar 23, 2014 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSC

I think skeptic censorship is their best path forward. The climate data is certainly not their friend and they certainly won't help their cause by allowing someone that has looked at the data to wave it in their face in a public forum.

Mar 23, 2014 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Norris

Bez is to stand for MP. He's against fracking, apparently. I would write more but I haven't quite stopped laughing.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill

"The consensus over the existence of the greenhouse effect..."

I protest! Not all skeptics hold to this alleged "consensus". While it is true that most skeptics believe in AGW albeit to a lesser extent than the alarmists, some skeptics do not. What is dismaying to true scientists is not that the warmists control the media but that the warmists and skeptics together preach a false paradigm to the total exclusion of physics and reason. Even if the skeptics obtained some airing of their perverse views they would only succeeed in reinforcing a false paradigm. Indeed they are almost entirely responsible for the continuation of the GHG/AGW myth as they embrace the false physics of the warmists and propagate it in their own way. The debate the BBC does not allow is actually between two groups of global warmists. Their debate will continue until the end of the universe as it is not based on reason and cannot therefore be resolved by reason.

Mar 23, 2014 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered Commentereco-geek

eco-geek: Why do you care so much though? Are you interested in climate policies at all? If so, aren't you happy to form an alliance with sceptics prepared to accept the existence of a greenhouse effect properly explained? Don't we all want the ruinous and freedom-bashing policies ended and don't you want that point debated freely on our state broadcaster? Why such heat about what is, surely, a secondary matter?

Mar 24, 2014 at 12:43 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Charming asks If the science is settled and sceptics are just a small band of idiots, why are they so scared of debate?

Well, there are two quotes attributed to Mark Twain that bear on this

Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

and the rather better known

Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

Mar 24, 2014 at 2:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>