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The BBC's reeducation programme

The BBC Trust has issued a new report into progress on adopting the recommendations of the Steve Jones review of science coverage. This was the integrity-free publication that recommended keeping sceptics off air as much as possible.

According to the new paper, the BBC has been holding a series of seminars to bang home the "keep sceptics off air" message and will keep up this re-education programme in the future. There's also this:

The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences. The Trust also would like to reiterate that, as it said in 2011, “This does not mean that critical opinion should be excluded. Nor does it mean that scientific research shouldn’t be properly scrutinised.” The BBC has a duty to reflect the weight of scientific agreement but it should also reflect the existence of critical views appropriately. Audiences should be able to understand from the context and clarity of the BBC’s output what weight to give to critical voices.

Given that we know that BBC editors are telling their staff not to allow scientists to appear opposite anyone who might disagree with them, I would suggest to readers that the paragraph quoted above is entirely mendacious. And the idea that the English literature graduates and environmentalists who infest the BBC are going to "properly scrutinise" scientists is beyond contempt. It is simply a case of putting two fingers up to the general public.

It's time to close the BBC down.

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Reader Comments (66)

The very fact that blogs such as this exist and are read by millions every day around the world, puts the BBC in a dinosaur position. they can no more restrict reporting outside their own bubble, their reach is infinitely less than it was forty years ago when they could ( and newspapers) largely forge informed debate. I'm afraid that this will only become its own story in months to come, and it is fortunate for some that snails are not being given a biased treatment?

Jul 4, 2014 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

No point in visiting the BBC in any of its forms of news and science presentation.

Jul 4, 2014 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommentersandyS

This is a complete admission of defeat on their part. They are simply saying they have no argument to convince the public with, and have to rely on concocted prejudice based on the vagaries of careers within a religious sect.

Jul 4, 2014 at 10:16 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Telegraph story, BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks onto science programmes. Bish mentioned. Maybe the title is deliberately provocative, to provoke an angry reaction in the reader comments - if so it seems to be a successful strategy.

[Yes, it's link bait. Suggest readers ignore.]

Jul 4, 2014 at 10:18 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The Telegraph's silly story on this is calling Montford, Lawson etc cranks, with the sniffy references to the IPCC and its 95% certainty.

Naturally, the story never gets around to mentioning a single comment or statement that was incorrect, let alone mentioning that the models/claims of the esteemed climate scientists were in fact wrong.

Jul 4, 2014 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterchip

Paul Matthews 10.18: On the contrary its worth a visit, Sarah is getting a thrashing in comments. Mind you she calls IPCC AR5 a "landmark research project" implying she knows nothing of AR1,2,3 & 4, or what the IPCC actually is.
Still that's par for the course for a "science editor".

Jul 4, 2014 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenese2

"The BBC Trust......"


Jul 4, 2014 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

I wonder if the BBC would ever consider that no one that does not believe in god should be given air time , after all the 'experts' such as priest are in no doubt he does exist therefore who those 'none-experts' to cast doubt on this claim ?

Jul 4, 2014 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

The funny thing is that even though the catastrophiliacs can "employ" organisations like the BBC backed by billions from people like Grantham and Soros they still can't compete with lowly underfunded online blogs such as here and Watts!

That probably accounts for why lefty greenies tend to be so rabidly violent eh? Must drive them absolutely crazy that they have so little control of "the debate" in spite of funding and media all being in their back pockets.


Jul 4, 2014 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Audiences should be able to understand from the context and clarity of the BBC’s output what weight to give to critical voices.

Oh good. Otherwise, how could I ever be able to decide for myself!!!

Oh thank you BBC!

Jul 4, 2014 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

I agree that the BBC should be shut down. It is totally beyond recovery.

Jul 4, 2014 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

When you get the head of the BBC Complaints department speaking of "model-based evidence", you know the fight is lost.

Jul 4, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

If the BBC had to self fund I think the mutual ar*e licking between it and its external organisations (m8s) would be greatly diminished. End of the 13 yr old mentality maybe?

Would put an end to the garbage pumped out on the World Service also. Its a rather pro Nigeria and folk with speech impediment department. The latter being the last thing needed in Comms systems. Radio 4....bloody awful.

Try as they do, all the words (meetings/seminars/courses) in the world won't stop opinion emerging.

Jul 4, 2014 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

I read in the comments after this shocking article in the Telegraph

Rog Tallbloke is looking at briefing a QC in a class action against the BBC for breach of its charter. More power to his elbow !

Jul 4, 2014 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

As they sow, so shall they reap.
Man made global warming is a failing theory, as any neutral with half an ounce of understanding can see. But the BBC aren't neutral. In due course this decision will be held in judgement against them. They merely incriminate themselves.

Jul 4, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

Trefor Jones:

According to work done by the Reuters institute of Journalism at Oxford, the BBC accounts for 70% of people's news input. BBC News Online is an increasing share of that, because it is a one stop shop. It is quite shameless (as is the BBC Complaints Department). I currently have two complaints outstanding where the entire tone and conclusion of the story turns on misinterpretation of statistics - one about a survey of opinion on fracking, another on immigration in which I am joined by the ONS with whom I have been corresponding. I telephoned them to ask about progress - and all I can conclude is that there is an aura of complete panic at the BBC as they try to work out how to deal with an issue that turns on facts, not opinions. The thing is that this is not a matter of being statistically incompetent - even when an error is pointed out they don't get on and publish a correction - it is quite wilful.

I have suggested to the ONS that they should get Sir Andrew Dilnot to publicly criticise the BBC for misuse of statistics in the way he does when a senior politician transgresses.

Jul 4, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

I suggest letters to MPs, newspapers non-BBC news channels and full use of social media to get as much publicity as possible for this deliberate breach of their own charter. The public doesn't like censorship and propaganda from an organisation funded by public money and the BBC doesn't like being publicly criticised.

Jul 4, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

If the BBC truly apportioned due weight in their science reporting then anti-fracking reports and global-warming scare stories should effectively disappear. These topics actually represent a tiny fraction of scientific research and a tiny fraction of scientific funding.

So why does the BBC pursue these topics with such vigour?

They are confused. They think that environmental activism is science, and employ writers with little science education or experience. I see no defensible reason for lumping Science and the Environment[*] together on the BBC website. One could, with equal validity, classify Science and Sport together.

*[Where environment=Mainly photogenic animals and scenery which somebody somewhere claims is threatened by some human activity. I like those photos too, but photographs of Mass-Spectrometers, Gothic Cathedrals, Formula One cars, or Hollywood actresses have just as much claim to be part of the environment. I could also find a science story to write about all of those subjects. The BBC, it seems, finds it much harder to write or report about science concerning things unrelated to the politico-environmentalist agenda of the green-party and "friends-of-the-earth". As one senior BBC employee has stated, it is not the BBC's job to save the planet.]

Jul 4, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@Jul 4, 2014 at 11:20 AM | It doesn't add up...

You may be interested in this session, scheduled to be held on Saturday 20 September at the Oxford Alumni weekend.
The on line brochure reads:

"Climate Change in the Media
James Painter, Head of the
Journalism Fellowship Programme,
Reuters Institute for the Study of
Journalism, Department of Politics
and International Relations
Maths Institute
The variety of ways the media
represent the science of climate
change is now a widely researched
area, but it remains a bitterly disputed
one. Do climate sceptics get too
much coverage? Does the growth in
online sites, including sceptical ones,
enhance the public’s understanding,
or diminish it? Do journalists do a
good job in capturing the complexity
and uncertainties around climate
change, and can climate scientists
do a better job in dealing with the
media? James Painter is an author
and journalist, and was senior
editor at the BBC World Service
for 15 years."

It is only open to Oxford alumni.

Jul 4, 2014 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

The BBC could have asked Paul Dennis at University of East Anglia - but last time Roger Harrabin asked for qualified scientists, he completely ignored Paul

Paul Dennis (Feb 2010):

"Two weeks ago Roger Harabin made a public call for scientists who are actively publishing in the climate change and palaeoclimate literature to contact him with a view to taking the debate forward. I thought very carefully about doing so but in the end felt that the attempt to provide a forum for a mature and open debate on the science was a worthy effort and responded. I received a one liner which said “interested but very busy” (my paraphrase). I have received nothing else in the past 2 weeks.

This is from a journalist who had just made a very public announcement that he wanted to open the debate and bring it to a new level. The lack of response is deafening and one can only conclude that there are groups of people who do not want to shift the debate onto science. They are more comfortable slinging mud."

Jul 4, 2014 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Will the BBC extend this policy to their own staff?

On this basis I can't see why their Science Editor, David Shuckman (Geography BA) should be employed to comment on any science matters when he is clearly unqualified to do so.

Likewise other members of their science team Jonathan Amos (science correspondent), Tom Fielden (science correspondent, Today) neither of whom appear to have any qualification related to science.

Matt McGrath Environment correspondent has no obvious qualification to report the latest environmental scares other than a background in editing computer magazines.

Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent (BA English Lit) is suitably qualified to tell us about Shakespeare not stem cells.

Pallab Ghosh (Physics), Rebecca Morelle (BSc Chemistry) and Jonathan Webb (PhD Neuroscience) are notable exceptions with scientific backgrounds.

Jul 4, 2014 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin

Excellent; the weight of scientific agreement is that warming has stopped, that nuclear power is safe, that fracking is safe, and that biofuels don't reduce CO2 emissions. I look forward eagerly to the BBC ensuring that this is reflected in their output.

Jul 4, 2014 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

It shows they know they are in dire straits.

Jul 4, 2014 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

After the in-depth "scrutinising" they did on their own people in cases like Mssrs Jimmy Saville and Roff Harris, I think we know how thorough they'll be.


Jul 4, 2014 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

"The BBC has a duty to reflect the weight of scientific agreement but it should also reflect the existence of critical views appropriately."

Soon to be heard on the Today programme. "We invited 3% of a sceptic to reply but none was available as they come in units of 1."

Do they have a list of critical voices? I was hearing this morning on the BBC how construction companies had a list.

How would you find out if you are on such a list? How would their process operate without such a list?

Jul 4, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

The BBC does not want anyone using facts to interfere with the narrative and conceptual understandings that are being so carefully nurtured now in K-12 and higher ed. I actually have copies of the intended global curriculum UNESCO developed as it says "pursuant to its responsibilities under Chapter 36 of Agenda 21." It says it began that effort in earnest in 2002. We should take their word for it. It may be news to us, but it is certainly not to the BBC.

Honestly we still have the kind of intentional remoulding of minds going on comparable to what that Fabian window at the LSE depicts for the world. The only time in my researching life I ever got bounced from a server while I was reading a paper had to do with UNESCO's determined effort to transform the nature of higher ed globally starting about 1998. Fortunately I had already hard copied and archived the document.

This is the desired consciousness. Mindset. Worldview. One of those terms or all interchangeably is used in virtually every document on the desired transformational change. Of course the BBC is going to be very careful who it lets on the air.

Jul 4, 2014 at 12:46 PM | Registered Commenteresquirerobin

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"
This statement seems to have morfed into:
We disagree with what you say and will use all our corporate might to
deprive you of your right to challenge us.

Ironically, Voltaire suffered greatly from censorship.

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

The BBC trebles down on stupid.
The BBC leadership is idiocratic enough to serve in the US President's Administration.

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I keep reminding people that it is Nazi Philosophy:

Joseph Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrcrinum

So I guess the BBC will not then give any weight to the Cornell Uni professor Anthony Ingraffea whose paper about methane escape during fracking was both erroneous and refuted by every other subsequent paper and professor who gave an opinion. Even if, heaven forfend, this extreme outlier gets on TV then surely the BBC will invite an expert from the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society or indeed any other academic or industry watchdog to give the contrary consensus view. Well no, last night they just allowed the prof to spout numbers and outlier opinions as he liked (presumably from his much-derided works) with no comeback or redirection or even any hard question.

Ergo it's nothing at all to do with expertise or consensus but has everything to do with the promotion of naked alarmism of whatever greenpeace or the guardian says they should be alarmed about.

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

luckily they have proved over and over again what beakons of morality and ethics they are:

-jimmi saville
-the reporting on unjust wars, vietnam, and iraq. the first iraqi citizens still need to be interviewed as should the first north vietnamese farmer families who lost sons
-their sycophant adulation for certain (socialist) presidents over others
-their info suppressing 12y long on white girl grooming
-their relentless discrimination of white hetero christian and jewish males , eg in their hiring
-te do as we say not as we do ourselves regarding sole employeeships and taxdodging, for theri self enrichment

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoeBidensBrainSurgeon

Brute - 'It shows they know they are in dire straits'.
But they thimk they are the Sultans of Swing?

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen

"It's time to close the BBC down."

And the Met Office.

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:21 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Now the link below highlights a pretty sad event but the reasons for it are not so clear as Shukman would have you believe, you'll never guess.

Dr Renee McPherson of the University of Oklahoma was an author of the Great Plains chapter of the recent National Climate Assessment.

She says the region experiences very large climate variability but that models suggest there will be a rise in maximum temperatures this century.

That could increase evaporation from the ground and transpiration from plants.

"We're less sure of what will happen to our precipitation patterns, but even if they stay the same, we'll see increased drying with those increased temperatures," she explained.

"We aren't sure what the droughts will look like in future - whether they'll be longer - but we feel that because of the increasing temperature they will be intensified."

If it's on message then, on the beeb as night follows day - it goes on the news and still, no news on 'record' Antarctic sea ice extent? Hmm.

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

BBC programme makers have also attended a science forum which dealt with “The World According to Generation Z” hearing from, among others, two Cambridge Universitylecturers - Shailaja Fennell on “Someone else's century? Africa, Asia and development” and Julian Allwood on “Engineering with both eyes open”
They also heard from the Professor of History and Director of the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Virginia Berridge, on “Health and habits: the past is the future?” and Visiting Professor at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, Michael Jacobs, on “Future
prosperity: what economics can and can't do”.

Michael Jacobs

"With time running out to tackle global warming, sustained global pressure must be put on governments to reach a deal in 2015"

The problem with this argument, however, is that it is self-prophesying. It is true that political leaders today are not thinking about climate change: but they will only do so if compelled by a big international event that requires their attention, as Copenhagen did. The global public are not now mobilised around global warming – but that is almost certain to change after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change begins publishing its latest assessment of the scientific evidence next year, when public alarm is bound to increase. Of course, if 2015 is built up to be a big moment and it fails, people will be let down. But if it is not built up, it will fail anyway.

The fact is, the current situation is already a failure: global emissions are rising, and on present trends 2C will be out of reach in less than a decade. The only hope of reversing this is if countries are forced into doing more by the pressure of an international "moment".

Glad to see the use of level headed independent sources to train the BBC staff on the center ground for climate science.

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Large percentage of BBC's pension fund is in Carbon Trading schemes, so they have a vested interest in perpetuating the myth or loosing a lot of their Pension pot

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterMole

Formatting failure, last sentence my own not attributable to Michael Jacobs.

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Lord B

Allwood is in the low carbon business too.

Jul 4, 2014 at 1:53 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The BBC keep Skeptics of air

"BBC Keep Pedophiles of air"

Jul 4, 2014 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Further to my earlier post (1108 AM)
If a class action were to be instigated against the BBC for breach of it’s charter citing its treatment of the topic of “Climate Change “ and Lord Lawson. Presumably they would have to show (with evidence) that the consensus view of AGW was valid and, more importantly, that the sceptical case was not a valid view scientifically. Presumably both sides would have to provide evidence in court assessed by the legal standard of evidence. Also I believe the BBC would have to show that they had objectively and authoritatively assessed both sides of the debate. Something on the lines of the case where Tim Ball is trying to get data disclosed by M. Mann.

Jul 4, 2014 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

References to the Big Lie are on point, but forget how useful to all political power it is if governments can guide citizens' perceptions of reality. Sociologists involved with CAGW and what I call Radical Education Reform call this this creation of a Collective Action Frame. In the US we are seeing Speech Codes on college campuses and Student Codes of Conduct in K-12 to try to ensure students to not pierce through the provided framework intended to guide perception about how the future society should be structured. The BBC is doing the same by culling its so-called experts. explains how this framing works and how it is intended to skew perception so that reality can be altered. It's not about accurately perceiving the world as it is. It is about imagining a world that could be.

This particularly matters for the UK because in 1991 Yrjo Engestrom published on article on this precise point wanting to use education and the media to build up Theoretical Concepts to guide how the everyday world is perceived. Learning by Expansion is ideological framing. Since we are all living with the consequences, we really should recognize its existence and intended uses.

Jul 4, 2014 at 2:11 PM | Registered Commenteresquirerobin


Julian Allwood leads the Low Carbon and Materials Processing group at the University of Cambridge, having previously worked for Alcoa and as a lecturer in mechanical engineering at Imperial College. The group explores the technologies and systems of energy, material and resource efficiency, largely related to metals. He is a vice Chairman of the International Academy of Production Engineering, joint editor-in-chief of the Journal of Materials Processing Technology and a Lead Author for the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report, with a focus on industry. He currently holds an £1.4m five-year EPSRC Leadership Fellowship and his recent book “Sustainable Materials: with both eyes open” is available online at . From 2013, Julian will be Director of the UK Indemand Centre, a national research centre into opportunities to reduce end-use energy and material demand in the industries that supply UK needs. The Centre spans four universities, and is funded by £6.2m from EPSRC with £5m of industrial commitment.

I would of placed him more in the sustainability bracket than a carbon junkie, daren't link to his book due to copyrights but he is not as 'out there' as some.
I would definitely agree though that his livelihood is heavily dependent upon the deadly CO2 meme although he would scrape by with his theories if energy policy was not reliant on EU regulations.

Jul 4, 2014 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Damn, formatting again. Must be the hot climate! Last paragraph mine.

Jul 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook


the largest part of the BC pension scheme is in Big OIl, Big coal, Big Mining, Big Tobacco and Big Arms..

your line of thought sounds like a 'conspiracy' to be dismissed..
(and has in the past from R Harrabin - writing at Watts Up With THat)

I did suggest to Bill Mckibben and a few environmentalists, that getting the BBC to divest should be 'easy'

;-) !

Jul 4, 2014 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Lord B: a mistake I am too often prone to, too. Either login to the site, thus allowing up to 15 minutes to edit, or preview before you post.

Jul 4, 2014 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

what is entirely unclear to me is whyso we need to pay dues to these degenerated liberal retards when we want to watch skynews??

Jul 4, 2014 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJBBS


Used to be able to login a while back but a change of computer scuttled that, possibly IP check. Since then password not being accepted, think it's a squarespace thing.

Jul 4, 2014 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Tony Hansen:

That's pretzel logic.

Jul 4, 2014 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Paul Matthews pointed to a stupid and uninformative Telegraph piece but I prefer the Independent from yesterday, which I find less stupid and more informative. Even so, how is it that a low-energy expert is any authority at all on the science of climate? Vested interest yes but it's the stupidity of the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit in treating his as a relevant opinion that grates. Sorry if this is old hat - I've not read all of some of the recent BBC threads.

The debate provoked a flurry of complaints to the BBC, including one from Chit Chong, a low-energy expert based in Dorset, which has been upheld by the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit.

The finding follows a ruling earlier this week from the BBC Trust, which partly upheld a complaint against Radio 4’s The World at One for the platform it gave to the Australian climate change sceptic Bob Carter in September.

In an apology to Mr Chong over his complaint about the Lord Lawson debate, the head of the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit Fraser Steel said “minority opinions and sceptical views should not be treated as if it were on an equal footing with the scientific consensus”.

He went on: “As you have pointed out, Lord Lawson’s views are not supported by the evidence from computer modelling and scientific research and I don’t believe this was made sufficiently clear to the audience.”

Mr Steel said listeners had not been properly informed that Lord Lawson had a minority view. “I do not believe it was made sufficiently clear that Lord Lawson’s views on climate change are not supported by the majority of climate scientists, and should not be regarded as carrying equal weight to those of experts such as Sir Brian Hoskins.”

In a response to Mr Chong, the former editor of Today Ceri Thomas defended the programme’s decision to give air time to Lord Lawson and said he had been the first climate change sceptic to speak on the programme in six weeks of floods. He said that the former Chancellor was “well-qualified to comment on the economic arguments, which are a legitimate area for debate”.

But he admitted: “We do accept that we could have offered a clearer description of the sceptical position taken by Lord Lawson and the GWPF in the introduction. That would have clarified in the audience’s minds the ideological background to the arguments.”

Mr Chong told The Independent: “The programme descended into Nigel Lawson saying there was no proof and it was all a conspiracy. It gave the impression that there’s still debate about climate change. The BBC has the whole idea of balance wrong – in seeking balance they are creating imbalance and promoting untruths.”

Jul 4, 2014 at 4:01 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Mr Chong should point out where LordLawson said - it's a 'conspirac'y....because Lawson did not..

chong is making stuff up.

Jul 4, 2014 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

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