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December 22, 2011

Andrew Bolt

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

Andrew Bolt:
For at least a decade the planet has not warmed even though emissions have soared.
(p 3)

Australian Communications and Media Authority:
[I]n the course of the interview it was made clear that there is debate over levels of warming and its causes.
The ordinary reasonable viewer would have understood that this is a contentious issue and that other viewpoints exist.

In the context of the segment in its entirety, the ACMA considers that it was clear that the assertion about the warming of the planet over the last decade and the rate of such warming was contestable, and a matter of opinion.
As such it was not required to be accurate. …
(p 6)

The ACMA must assess whether the relevant statement would have been understood by the ordinary reasonable listener/viewer as a statement of fact or an expression of opinion.
[Inferences] made from observed facts are usually [also] characterised as factual material …
(p 18)

Statements in the nature of prediction as to future events would nearly always be characterised as statements of opinion.
(ACMA Investigation Report 2709, italics added, p 19)
This illustrates the problem.
The whole segment is a misleading.
Nested misdirections like a set Russian Dolls.
The basic facts of climate change have been accepted by the overwhelming majority of active climate researchers (97%) for over 10 years.
If a small number of highly promoted individuals contest these facts in the popular media (as distinct from the peer reviewed scientific literature) this does not magically transform them from being "true" or "false" into "matter[s] of opinion".
It is just the conjuring of an illusion of scientific debate where none exists.
Cherry picking and misrepresentation cultivate confusion, indecision and political paralysis.
Which is, of course, the whole point.
ACMA:
[L]icensees are not required to present all factual material available to them …
[However,] if the omission of some factual material means that the factual material actually broadcast is not presented accurately, that would amount to a breach of the clause.
(p 18)
If one were to broadcast the fact the thalidomide was an effective treatment for morning sickness, but omitted to mention that it causes catastrophic birth defects, this would be compliant with Code.
That is to say, the fact that thalidomide is teratogenic is independent of the fact that it is an effective anti-emetic.
Omission of such information from an advertisement is illegal under trade practices legislation prohibiting misleading and deceptive conduct.
However, 'information' services are exempt from these provisions.

CONTENTS


Cherry Picker?

Dumb & Intolerant Person?

Analyst?

Sociologist?

Bully?

Misogynist?

Felon?


ANDREW BOLT


  • ACMA Investigation Report 2709, Ten Network, 23 May, 2012.
  • Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice [2010]:
    [B]roadcasting news and current affairs programs … must present factual material accurately and represent viewpoints fairly. …

    An assessment of whether the factual material is accurate is to be determined in the context of the segment in its entirety.
    (p 3)
    A statement made with reference to supporting evidence can be considered as a statement of fact.
    An unsubstantiated statement can be construed as a statement of opinion; and therefore, not is required to be accurate.

    Bolt offered a graph of satellite temperature readings for the period 1995-2011 as evidence for his statement that there has been no warming.
    (This was a false inference, because when properly analysed, the graph does not support this conclusion.)

    STATEMENT 1


    For at least a decade the planet has not warmed …


    The Graph



    (p 5)
    Climate trends cannot be meaningfully assessed over time scales less than 25-30 years.
    This is because sources of short to medium term natural climate variability (eg solar activity, the El Nino Southern Oscillation and volcanoes) are superimposed on the temperature record.
    Using 10 year rolling averages filters out some of the short to medium term "noise" in the climate signal:



    Figure 4
    Even the highly “cherry-picked” 11-year period starting with the warm 1998 and ending with the cold 2008 still shows a warming trend of 0.11°C per decade.
    (The Copenhagen Diagnosis, Climate Change Research Centre, 2009)

    Heat trapped by greenhouse gases is distributed between atmosphere and ocean (mostly the ocean).
    The heat trapped in the climate system as a whole has been rising steeply and consistently since 1975.
    These must be corrected for before a judgment can be made about the underlying climate trend.
    ACMA:
    The ACMA notes that without a clear understanding of the data considerations in the graph, such as
    • the data validity,
    • the way in which tends are interpreted,
    • measurement scales and
    • the application of appropriate tests …
    the ordinary reasonable viewer would not have been able to draw their own inferences from the graph as suggested by the licensee. …


    The context of the segment in its entirety

    Richard Lindzen:
    [S]ince 1995, there hasn’t been much warming, certainly not that can be distinguished between noise. …
    (p 6)

    For governments, they want taxes and they know people don’t like to pay them …
    [I]f they can possibly confuse people into thinking that they are doing it to save the earth, they’ll do it more willingly.
    (p 17)

    STATEMENT 3


    The omission of additional information relating to the wheat study



    Finding


    The licensee did not breach [the Code] in relation to the omission of additional information relating to the wheat study.


    Reasons


    The complainant submitted that while the presenter’s statement that the wheat study found ‘about a 20% increase in yield because of elevated CO2’ was factually correct, he failed to state that the study ‘also found that elevated CO2 contributed to a decrease in crop quality, lower protein levels, and an increase in soil nitrogen uptake which could impact on fertiliser costs.’
    (p 10)

    [T]he ACMA considers that the ordinary, reasonable viewer would have understood that the purpose of citing each study was to highlight the fact that each product grew ‘faster’, ‘quite well’ and ‘better’ in high levels of carbon dioxide.
    This is an accurate representation of that part of the study.
    (p 11)

    Although the factual material was ‘cherry picked’, the program was confined to a discussion about increased carbon dioxide levels in the context of the carbon tax debate and [did not purport to analyse] the impact of global warming on farming and crop quality. …

    In current affairs programs [there is] not the same requirement for fairness and impartiality that applies to news. …

    [T]he presenter used the factual material in the study only to argue the effect of carbon dioxide on plants. …

    The ACMA is satisfied that, taking into account the context in which the findings of the study were presented in the program, the omission does not affect the accuracy of the factual information that was broadcast.
    (p 12)
    The National wheat Free Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE) study did find ‘about a 20% increase in yield because of elevated CO2’; however, this was not the purpose of the study.
    As the ACMA points out, the purpose was to determine the overall 'impact of global warming on farming and crop quality'.
    Glenn Fitzgerald:
    [While] we’re seeing about a 20% increase in yield because of the elevated CO2 … you also have to have sufficient water and nitrogen still to grow the crop…
    [I]f this area of Australia … has decreases in rainfall then we may not see the responses to be quite that dramatic in the future …
    [The increase] in biomass and yield is because carbon dioxide acts as a fertiliser to plants.

    [We] see a decrease in the plant nitrogen content [which translates into less protein in the grain.]
    [T]otal nitrogen extracted from the soil increases … because there’s more biomass.
    [This] has potential impacts [on] fertiliser requirements.
    Bolt cites an isolated finding of the FACE study as evidence that the carbon tax is unnecessary.
    It is reasonable to assume that the "ordinary reasonable listener/viewer", given that they are unaware that Bolt had "cherry picked" the study, would conclude that the FACE study as a whole supports the proposition that the the carbon tax is unnecessary when, in fact, it does not.
    The Code fails in this instance to ensure the citizenry are accurately informed on a matter of major public importance.

    Would you like to know more?
  • Smarter folk are more likely to be sceptics, Herald Sun, 5 October, 2011.
    Andrew Bolt:
    The less you know about science, the more likely you are to believe man is warming the planet dangerously.
    From a new study by Professor Dan Kahan and others:
    [T]he most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.
    Bolt purposely omits the main finding of the study …
    Abstract continues:
    More importantly, greater scientific literacy and numeracy were associated with greater cultural polarization … [As science literacy and numeracy increased:]
    • Respondents predisposed by their values to dismiss climate change evidence became more dismissive, and
    • [And t]hose predisposed by their values to credit such evidence, more concerned …

    Dan Kahan:
    I have no quarrel with anyone who, after thoughtful and fair-minded engagement with our studies and our interpretations of them, comes to the conclusion that our findings support inferences different from the ones we make on the basis of our data.
    But … I very much do resent it when I am misdescribed as having drawing conclusions I have not drawn by people [on the Left …]
    And I resent it just as much when the dumb & intolerant person doing the mischaracterizing is a conservative [ie Andrew Bolt] who is chortling over a simplistic misreading of our work that supposedly shows that people with liberal views are stupid.
    Would you like to know more?

  • Eatock v Bolt, Federal Court of Australia, 1103, 28 September, 2011.
    J Bromberg.

    Collectively, eighteen individuals are named in the articles. …
    Each of them genuinely identifies as an Aboriginal person and has done so since their childhood.
    Each was raised to identify as an Aboriginal person and was enculturated as an Aboriginal person.
    None of them "chose" to be Aboriginal.
    Nor have they used their Aboriginal identity inappropriately to advance their careers.
    Each is entitled to regard themselves and be regarded by others as an Aboriginal person within the conventional understanding of that description. …

    I have concluded that from the perspective of fair-skinned Aboriginal people, the messages (or what lawyers call "the imputations") conveyed by the newspaper articles which Mr Bolt wrote, included that:

    1. There are fair-skinned people in Australia with essentially European ancestry but with some Aboriginal descent, of which the individuals identified in the articles are examples, who are not genuinely Aboriginal persons but who, motivated by career opportunities available to Aboriginal people or by political activism, have chosen to falsely identify as Aboriginal; and
    2. Fair skin colour indicates a person who is not sufficiently Aboriginal to be genuinely identifying as an Aboriginal person.

    I am satisfied that fair-skinned Aboriginal people (or some of them) were reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to have been offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations conveyed by the newspaper articles. …

    At the core of multiculturalism is the idea that people may identify with and express their racial or ethnic heritage free from pressure not to do so.
    People should be free to fully identify with their race without fear of public disdain or loss of esteem for so identifying. Disparagement directed at the legitimacy of the racial identification of a group of people is likely to be destructive of racial tolerance …

    I have not been satisfied that the offensive conduct that I have found occurred, is exempted from unlawfulness by section 18D {because:
      (i)   it was not done reasonably and in good faith in the making or publishing of a fair comment [or]
      (ii)  for a genuine purpose in the public interest …}
    The reasons for that conclusion have to do with the manner in which the articles were written, including that they contained errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language.

    In coming to that view, I have taken into account the possible degree of harm that I regard the conduct involved may have caused.
    Beyond the hurt and insult involved, I have also found that the conduct was reasonably likely to have an intimidatory effect on some fair-skinned Aboriginal people and in particular young Aboriginal persons or others with vulnerability in relation to their identity.
    I have taken into account that the articles may have been read by some people susceptible to racial stereotyping and the formation of racially prejudicial views and that, as a result, racially prejudiced views have been reinforced, encouraged or emboldened.
    In the balancing process, I have also taken into account the silencing consequences upon freedom of expression involved in the Court making a finding of contravention.

    [N]othing in the orders I make should suggest that it is unlawful for a publication to deal with racial identification, including by challenging the genuineness of the identification of a group of people.
    I have not found Mr Bolt and the Herald & Weekly Times to have contravened section 18C, simply because the newspaper articles dealt with subject matter of that kind.
    I have found a contravention of the Racial Discrimination Act because of the manner in which that subject matter was dealt with.
    (Italics added.)

    Would you like to know more?
  • Andrew Bolt, Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 December, 2011.

    June 2003, Bolt published an article criticising Andrew Wilkie in which he quoted from a classified intelligence document written by Wilkie as an intelligence analyst for the Office of National Assessments.
    [Unauthorised access to, and dissemination of, classified material is a federal crime.]
    It was claimed, but never proven, that someone in Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's office had leaked the document to Bolt. …

    … Bolt claims that there were no large-scale removals of [Aboriginal] children "for purely racist reasons".
    After Bolt challenged [Robert] Manne to "name just 10" children stolen for racial reasons, Manne gave him a four-page list of names which, Bolt states, includes children rescued from sexual abuse and removed for other humanitarian reasons. …
    Bolt noted multiple instances of contemporary Aboriginal children being left
    in grave danger that we would not tolerate for children of any other race because we are so terrified of the 'stolen generations' myth.

  • White fellas in the black, Herald-Sun, 21 August, 2009.

    [This person] whose confusion about his identity leads him also to declare he's both a "proud gay" and a "proud father" — has received all the special help you once thought, when writing the taxman another cheque, would at least go to people who looked Aboriginal, but which is increasingly lavished on folk as pink in face as they are in politics. …

    [W]e're so refreshingly non-judgmental these days … that the federal Human Rights Commission wants our laws changed so a man can even call himself a woman, should he feel like it.
    Hear it from the HRC itself [Note 1]:
    The evidentiary requirements for the legal recognition of sex should be relaxed by … making greater allowance for people to self-identify their sex. …
    Soon there'll be no end of white men claiming prizes meant for black women.
    And don't dare then tell the HRC's anti-discrimination police you object.

NOTE

  1. Sex Files: the legal recognition of sex in documents and government records, Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), March, 2009:
    Based on its consultations with the sex and gender diverse community, the Commission has formed the view that the medical evidence currently required to support a person’s change in legal sex is unnecessarily demanding.
    The Commission therefore recommends that the relevant evidentiary requirements need to be relaxed to make the system more accessible and make greater allowance for a person to self-identify their sex. …

    The Commission recommends that the following documents should be adequate to support an application for a change in legal sex:
    • One statutory declaration by a doctor or medical practitioner outlining the sex affirmation treatment the person has received or is receiving or confirming the person’s sex identity, and
    • One statutory declaration from the person requesting the recognition of sex declaring that they identify as a particular sex and intend to do so permanently.

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This work by peaceandlonglife is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Australia License.
(scepticwatch@gmail.com)