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Dangerous For Democracy January 12, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics, Science.
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Via Political Animal:

The British Daily Mail ran a report yesterday with the headline, “Could we be in for 30 years of global COOLING?” The piece told readers, “According to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, the warming of the Earth since 1900 is due to natural oceanic cycles, and not man-made greenhouse gases.”

It led Fox News to report, “30 Years of Global Cooling Are Coming, Leading Scientist Says.”

There are, of course, two small problems. First, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said no such thing. The director of the NSIDC said, “This is completely false. NSIDC has never made such a statement and we were never contacted by anyone from the Daily Mail.”

Second, the Fox News report cites the research of IPCC scientist Mojib Latif, one of the world’s leading climate modelers. The story completely mischaracterizes his work, and gets the story largely backwards.

Latif told Dr. Joseph Romm:

“I don’t know what to do. They just make these things up.”

Yes, they do. And as long as there are news consumers who prefer the alternative universe these outlets provide, they’ll keep making these things up.

Scientific literacy is not exactly widespread in the U.S. And that means the corporate media, especially Fox News, can say what they like if it will attract eyeballs. The average person has no way of assessing this information. That is not good for our democracy.

So I don’t think we can expect news consumers to solve this by themselves. It is really incumbent on the news profession to police their ranks. People who work for outlets like Fox News or The Daily Mail should be drummed out of the profession. Journalism professors should make it clear that working for either organization is a violation of journalistic ethics.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

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