Tag Archives: Mail on Sunday

Mail on Sunday encourages us to ‘forget global warming’

Apparently the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit have released some figures that will prove ‘an inconvenient challenge’ for the ‘supposed “consensus” on man-made global warming’. Naturally, the Mail on Sunday online article provides not one link to what it is they are actually talking about (seriously, the busiest ‘news’ website in the world cannot even use simple Internet etiquette) but the writer – David Rose – seems convinced that this data completely changes every piece of evidence ever collated to support the greenhouse model of global warming.

Those of you with a good memory might remember that the Daily Mail have covered the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit before when hackers targeted the unit and released internal emails supposedly showing that the unit had been massaging figures to maintain the illusion that global warming was real. Now it seems that their figures are to be trusted because they happen to coincide with the newspaper’s editorial belief that global warming is not real.

However, before this can be established we need to know exactly what data has been released by the CRU and how the Mail on Sunday has arrived at its conclusions. Sadly, thanks to the newspaper’s complete lack of transparency we can only hazard a guess because no MailOnline / Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday writer seems to have permission (or the decency) to link to any external website (unless they are cut and pasting PR copy, of course).

Visiting the CRU website shows that the most recently updated information sheet was updated back in January 2011 and states that:

The period 2001-2010 (0.44°C above 1961-90 mean) was 0.20°C warmer than the 1991-2000 decade (0.24°C above 1961-90 mean). The warmest year of the entire series has been 1998, with a temperature of 0.55°C above the 1961-90 mean. After 1998, the next nine warmest years in the series are all in the decade 2001-2010. During this decade, only 2008 is not in the ten warmest years. Even though 2008 was the coldest year of the 21st century it was still the 12th warmest year of the whole record.

This time series is compiled jointly by the Climatic Research Unit and the UK Met. Office Hadley Centre. Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to human activities are most likely the underlying cause of warming in the 20th century.

Presumably, the figures that the Daily Mail has got hold of must completely contradict the figures that they have released previously; or that newspaper must have arrived at a very different conclusion to the report’s authors.

The latest press release issued by the CRU (October 2011)- at least the latest one that I could find on their website – seems pretty equivocal:

The University of East Anglia notes the provisional findings of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group (BEST) that any doubts about the previous peer-reviewed, published research showing that the world has been warming are unfounded.

If the BEST studies are confirmed by independent peer review, they will further strengthen the scientific consensus built over the last 30 years by groups around the world, including our Climatic Research Unit (CRU). They will also vindicate – once more – those in CRU unfairly accused of scientific fraud following the theft of their personal emails in November 2009. The university has stood by the science and stood by CRU throughout.

Prof Phil Jones, research director of CRU, said: “I look forward to reading the finalised papers once they have been reviewed and published. These provisional findings seem encouraging and echo our own results, particularly our conclusion that the impact of urban heat islands on the overall trend of global temperature is minimal.”

If the figures David Rose has found are that groundbreaking then the least he could do is point us in the direction of them. Instead he describes any climate change skeptic as a ‘leading climate scientist’, or ‘solar expert’ or ‘one of America’s most eminent climate experts’ whilst relegating the Met Office’s statement (‘But yesterday a Met Office spokesman insisted its models were still valid’) to one throwaway line without any fancy introduction.

You see it’s simple really, all of the graphs put together over the years by scientists who have demonstrated beyond question that global temperatures have risen in the last 30 years have now been disproved by those same scientists releasing another graph. The sole reason for believing this latest graph and disbelieving all the others seems to be that it roughly corresponds to the prejudices of the author and the newspaper that they write for.

And it’s even more simple than that. Everyone who agrees with David Rose’s view is ‘the very best leading expert in the whole wide world’ whilst anyone with any different viewpoint is not even worth mentioning.

This is ‘journalism’ at its very worst and the longer publications are allowed to publish propaganda rather than at the very least flirt with established scientific fact, the longer such manufactured controversies will be allowed to flourish.


Incidentally, The New Journalist has now been launched so if someone more scientifically-minded and patient than I wants to track down this Met Office report and cover it for The New Journalist that would really be good.

Thomas the Tank Engine Bans Christmas!

Kind of, according to the Mail on Sunday Reporter: ‘Thomas the Tank Engine forced to carry ‘decorated tree’ for ‘winter holidays’ as Christmas is banned on Sodor‘. The article claims:

Thomas the Tank Engine has been accused of joining the politically correct bandwagon after Christmas was written out of one of his adventures.

The team behind the much-loved children’s TV series has angered campaigners by setting a story during the ‘winter holidays’.

The article suggests that the story is clearly set during Christmas but with ‘no mention of the word Christmas’, yet the article does not give us the date when the DVD was actually released or into what markets. The article does include a response from the makers:

Hit Entertainment, the company behind the DVD, said: ‘It was put out some time ago. It was not a seasonal release specifically aimed at a Christmas audience, but we do put out seasonal releases that have Christmas in the title.

‘Last year we had Christmas Express and next year we are planning another Christmas title.’

So, perhaps it wasn’t a cynical attempt at ‘political script changes’ but merely a cynical way of selling Christmas-related stories throughout the year. The Mail on Sunday picture-caption-writer has drawn some conclusions that seem a bit out of place as well:

Lights out: Thomas (left) motors past a ‘decorated tree’ as it will now be regarded in future seasonal episodes

Sorry, is this a fact? Is the writer certain that all future episodes – including the Christmas specific titles – will never again refer to a Christmas tree as a Christmas tree?

For what it’s worth here is last year’s Thomas the Tank engine Christmas DVD:

Thomas the tank engine

I look forward to seeing the Mail on Sunday Reporter sitting down with the next Thomas the Tank Engine Christmas special to see if they really will never mention Christmas or Christmas trees again.

PS. This story has already been copied and pasted onto the Stormfront forums. The Mail on Sunday must be so proud.

Mail on Sunday becomes Daily Star

This has already been covered by Tabloid Watch, but it’s worth covering here just so you don’t miss out on the full splendour of the Mail on Sunday’s front page today:

Mail on Sunday

The article is also currently the leading story on the Mail website as well:

The article starts with some common claims:

The BBC has been accused of ‘absurd political correctness’ after dropping the terms BC and AD in case they offend non-Christians.

The Corporation has replaced the familiar Anno Domini (the year of Our Lord) and Before Christ with the obscure terms Common Era and Before Common Era.

That indiscriminate group of ‘non-Christians’ that secretly rule the world are at it again, and the BBC are clearly nothing more than an anti-Christian propaganda machine.

The truth in this matter, as Tabloid Watch points out, is very clear and contained within the article:

The BBC said last night: ‘The BBC has not issued editorial guidance on the date systems.

‘Both AD and BC, and CE and BCE are widely accepted date systems and the decision on which term to use lies with individual production and editorial teams.’

Indeed, the Mail complains that some presenters / programmes switch between the two – clearly evidencing that the BBC has made no attempt to banish AD / BC. It’s very depressing even writing about this subject given how utterly insignificant it is. It’s just pathetic that a national newspaper has nothing better to concern itself with than an embarrassing accusation about the irrelevant change in language that the BBC is merely reflecting in its programming.

But of course, this isn’t just harmless fluff because it is just part of the agenda to create an atmosphere of victimisation in which good old white Christians can’t even use AD/BC anymore because it offends ‘non-Christians’ – a term which is never going to be taken to mean atheists, but rather foreign people. Or, more specifically, as can be seen in the Mail comments section (530 and counting): Muslims.


UPDATE: James ‘wrong about everything, ever’ Delingpole has found himself part of the ‘Rightminds’ team and has come up with this: ‘How the BBC fell for a Marxist plot to destroy civilisation from within’. Seriously:

When you mention to a Muslim or Hindu that the year is 2011, do you ever feel a twinge of guilt about your closet religious chauvinism? When you watch the old Raquel Welch film One Million Years BC, do you blushingly avert your gaze from the title sequence? When you catch your children reading 2000AD, do you furiously insist that they read something less offensive, such as The Beano or The Dandy, instead?

Well, the BBC thinks you should and it is taking action on your behalf. No longer will its website refer to those bigoted, Christian-centric concepts AD (as in Anno Domini – the Year of Our Lord) and BC (Before Christ). From now on, it will use initials which strip our traditional Gregorian calendar of its offensive religious context. All reference to Christ has been expunged, replaced by the terms CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era).

He continues:

And so yet another small part of our tradition, language and culture takes a step closer to extinction. We didn’t ask for it; we didn’t want it; yet still it’s happening because a tiny minority of politically correct busybodies have wormed their way into institutions such as the BBC and taken control.

This then leads him to this nugget:

Their goal is to create a world where Left-wing thinking – on ‘fairness’, on race, on sexual equality, on the role of government – becomes the norm. So far, they are doing brilliantly.

Rightminds, again, demonstrating that it will happily publish any old rubbish, even when the basis of the entire dribbling, foam-mouthed rant is a complete fiction.

HT @LissyNumber

Dear Peter Hitchens: It does not follow

Peter Hitchens in an small aside in his Mail on Sunday column again linked rampage killings to antidepressants:

Tristan van der Vlis, the Dutch rampage killer who murdered six people last week, is said to have spent time in a psychiatric institution. Was he prescribed antidepressants?

The trouble with this suggested link is that it is not based on any real evidence and is compounded by lots of factors that need to be taken into account – it is not a topic that can be understood without forcing your mind to be as rational as possible. Firstly, a key study:

found an overall trend for any antidepressant treatment to reduce the risk of suicidality in people aged 25 years or above.

In the under 25s, however, there was a non-significant increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviour (preparatory actions for suicide or attempted or completed suicide) with antidepressant treatment. When limited to suicidal behaviour alone this increased risk became significant.

But it didn’t speculate about antidepressants leading to rampage killings. This speculation has only been made by the media and by Hitchens on several occasions, it is not based on any evidence and merely relies on the fact that some killers had been prescribed some form of antidepressant (or in this case had merely sought help from a psychiatrist).

Such links are caused by people putting to one side the most blindingly obvious variable that influences the behaviour of anyone prescribed antidepressants: they are depressed. When the media links antidepressants and suicide they seem to ignore the fact that the person was depressed and possibly suicidal before being issued with the medication. The medication may have failed to prevent that person committing suicide, but this is very different to blaming the medication for being the direct cause of suicide.

Likewise, a deeply troubled individual might be given a cocktail of drugs in order to attempt to control their behaviour, but these might fail and that person might end up killing someone or worse, killing many people in a seemingly random act of violence. Again, blaming the medication is to ignore the underlying mental illness that put them at risk of committing such an atrocity and led them to medication in the first place.

Objectively, any medication issued could be a contributing factor – we cannot know how any  individual will respond to any medication given and prescribing doctors might not be aware of other influencing factors not declared by the patient. Treating mental illness is far from an exact science because the patient is often an unreliable narrator of their own mental state and physical symptoms. It is complex, it is difficult and it is not helped by people like Hitchens believing that they’ve made some fabulously insightful link based on nothing more than their own ignorance of compounding factors – even when they are as obvious as they are here.

The truth is we will probably never uncover a satisfactory reason for why individuals commit such acts – and as the protagonists of suicide and rampage killings are usually dead at the end of the event we are reduced to speculation – but such speculation should be clearly labelled as such by all involved. However, the lack of a satisfactory reason for such behaviour should not lead to the vacuum being filled with commentators blaming medication when they have no evidence to make such a claim.

It seems to me that any act of random violence or the decision to commit suicide could be made with or without the differing influence of any medication – the medication is just one of many variables that could play a part in any action. Of course, we can’t ever know this because the protagonist is normally dead so we can’t experiment with the impacts of stopping medication to see whether they still want to commit suicide or not.

Blaming medication is lazy, simple-minded and above all ignores the myriad of complex reasons as to why people end up seeking medical help for a mental illness in the first place. Perhaps if as a society we focused more on well-being we wouldn’t need to write around 23 million prescriptions of antidepressants a year – but then I suppose that’s the kind of airy-fairy liberal wish-wash that Hitchens’ despises. After all, the Daily Mail is clear about what it thinks of depressed people:

Above all, columnists need to understand that we are not rational beings so we have to constantly force ourselves to think rationally. I am sure Mr Hitchens is aware of cum hoc and post hoc arguments as well as knowing what a non sequitur is. I can only appeal to him to re-read his columns with these arguments in his mind so he can clearly see where he is using them and why such arguments constantly undermine his writing.

Mail on Sunday apologises to Gordon Brown

The Mail on Sunday apologised last week for its front page story on how Gordon Brown stole the seat of a 7-month pregnant passenger – a headline that bore no relation to the content of the article. You would need to have fairly sharp eyes to spot the apology which appeared in print and online under the heading ‘Gordon Brown':

Last week we published a story headlined ‘The seven months pregnant woman told to give up her British Airways seat…just so Gordon Brown could fly Club Class’ and an editorial.

The flight was overbooked but we accept that neither Gordon Brown nor his staff received any special treatment from British Airways, nor behaved in any way improperly.

We apologise to Gordon Brown and Kirsty McNeill.

It is hard to know why the Mail on Sunday bothered with the story, given that it was proven so demonstrably false by the article that followed the headline. That the editor tagged it an ‘Exclusive’ and put it on the front page as a distraction away from the march against the current PM is laughable. Not to mention that it was also thought worthy on an editorial as well. Just a little reminder of that front page:

Shocking ‘journalism’ from the Mail on Sunday

A lot of people on Twitter yesterday predicted that the Mail on Sunday would cover the March 26th protests only in terms of violence or vandalism and they were not wrong:

According to the Guardian more than a quarter of a million people marched – the vast majority peacefully – on London yesterday, so the Mail on Sunday decides to ignore that and instead publish a photo that appears to show just 3 people smashing a window. It’s the worst kind of ideological journalism and it paints a completely distorted picture of what actually took place yesterday.

It gets worse for the Mail on Sunday when you see their ‘exclusive’ on Gordon Brown, which is also online [istyosty.com link]: ‘The seven months pregnant woman told to give up her British Airways seat… just so Gordon Brown could fly Club Class’. The headline seems to be a complete lie, given that BA issued a clear statement to the Mail:

A spokeswoman for the airline said Mr Brown’s arrival on the flight was a coincidence, and he had been unfairly blamed by the mutinous passengers.

‘The situation had absolutely nothing to do with Gordon Brown,’ she said. ‘We have apologised to [the complainant] and we have offered to pay compensation.

‘It is very rare for a customer not to be able to travel in the cabin that they have booked and we are extremely sorry that this happened on this flight. Gordon Brown and his party were booked in advance and were not involved in any way.’

Indeed, the denial was so clear that when the Mail on Sunday contacted Gordon Brown’s office they received the following response:

‘I assume you have read the BA statement and are now not ­running the story…

‘As BA has made clear, the arrangements were nothing to do with Mr Brown, who had booked his flight and seats well in advance and made no requests for – nor received – any special treatment.

‘As BA will confirm, all questions about bookings, overbookings and allocations of seats are not – and could not be – a matter for Mr Brown but for British Airways.’

But run the story they did, on the front page, as if it were based on something more substantial than the opinion of an anonymous passenger. I wonder if Brown’s office will register a complaint with the PCC, or whether they might just get the lawyers in? It seems to me that the Mail on Sunday thought they were onto a winner, had it totally destroyed by the BA statement but decided to run with it anyway under a completely dishonest headline.

Honesty

I wanted to leave this topic well alone, but unfortunately Peter Hitchens is now claiming on his own blog that:

Intrepid Web voyagers may also be able to find an encounter with me and one of my more virulent critics, in which I have caught him red-handed distorting my words, and he and his supporters insist that this is perfectly all right.

My crime was to copy and paste something I had written in an earlier blog post, here is what I wrote in the comments:

I admitted – twice in the post – that I had pointlessly ranted, but how else can you engage with a writer who actually claimed in the column that I was writing about that: ‘most of our elected leaders are “unrepentant illegal drug-takers”‘

People interested in the complete post can read it here (because Peter seems to have an aversion to linking to sources).

Now, what I put into inverted commas was what I had written previously, only the words in speech marks belonged to Peter Hitchens – his original words:

So many of our leaders now are unrepentant illegal drug-takers themselves that they shouldn’t be trusted near the making of laws*.

I pointed out to Peter that I was quoting my own words and his – as shown by inverted commas and speech marks – but I apologised for the clumsy introduction which was misleading. Rather than accept this and move on he accused me of blatant distortion, dishonesty and concluded that the credibility of this blog was now in ruins – ending with his final comment:

Final, final, final word. It is clear from all above that in this little world, objecting to dishonesty and distortion is ‘pedantry’, and twisting the words of others is excusable. No absolutes here, then. Truth here is a relative concept. That’s the choice of the host of this site and of his friends. Very well. The rest of us can now with confidence refer to this place in future as ‘The site that makes up quotes’.

Hence my lovely new tagline. One little detail and everything I have ever written can be dismissed as far as Hitchens’ is concerned. Nicely done.

Anyway, throughout the ‘debate’ – most of the time it really doesn’t deserve the term – with Hitchens I was open and honest as usual – even in the comment that led him to accuse me of distorting his words I linked to my original post that would have set any reader straight about my clumsy quotation immediately (they would see I was copying and pasting what I had written earlier, not purposefully putting words into his mouth) – hardly the actions of someone being purposefully deceptive or dishonest. I moderated no comments, the thread stands in its mind-numbing entirety for any neutral observer to make their own mind up about the terrible nature of my crime, and the superb intellectual victory scored by Mr Hitchens.

Except, although he keeps referring to this blog and his victory over anyone who argues with him, he won’t link to it. He doesn’t trust his own readers to make their own mind up; instead he just fills them in with his version of events. He may argue that the level of ‘critics’ he encountered was too low to warrant a link, but it seems apparent to me that he simply could not defend his position on passive smoking so he therefore decided to derail the argument in order to ‘win’ on his own terms.

Peter Hitchens can accuse me of whatever he likes, I stand by my arguments about why he is wrong about passive smoking (more about this later) and I stand by the comments section of that post to demonstrate that I am a reasonable, open and honest person (not to mention naive for thinking I could get anywhere or achieve anything with the argument). If he really thought the comments section of that post suggested otherwise perhaps he should link to it and let his readers make up their own minds.


*Furthermore, Hitchens’ argued that the meaning of ‘most’ is massively different from ‘many’ and therefore I was massively and dishonestly distorting what he originally said. However, given that laws require a majority to get through the House of Commons it follows that Peter’s worry would only be real if a significant majority of politicians were ‘unrepentant illegal drug-takers’ to push such votes through. This suggests that ‘most’ is an appropriate word to use – and remember, he doesn’t just say ‘many’ but ‘so many’.

And let’s face it, here is a man who is happy to stand by his ludicrous (no evidence provided) statement that: ‘So many of our leaders now are unrepentant illegal drug-takers themselves that they shouldn’t be trusted near the making of laws.’ But change ‘many’ to ‘most’, and he feels the need to defend himself in case he is being made to look silly.

You Know You’re Bad When…

Bill Akass, managing Editor of the News of the World, today confirmed on Radio 4 that he turned down the Lord Triesman sting because:

We were not satisfied that it was justified and we felt the information was thin.

It didn’t meet the tests which we set ourselves for justification…

Is it in the public interest? Are we operating within the law? Are we operating within the PCC code, which says that use of subterfuge can only be used in the public interest when the material cannot be obtained by any other means?… Do we have credible information to suggest that this person is already engaged in these activities?

This is from the paper that was recently criticised by a Judge for setting-up John Terry’s dad, as reported by Tabloid Watch the judge commented:

“It is a very, very clear case of entrapment solely to create a newspaper story…

“The facts in this case are highly unusual. In fact the offence was actually created by the actions of the newspaper sending a journalist to set you up. It is clearly an entrapment case and the only reason they did this was to create a story because of your connections to a well known footballer.”

It also has had to apologise in the last few days about completely making-up a story about Peter Sutcliffe. Not to mention – as today’s F365 Mediawatch column takes great delight in doing – that this:

is also the paper that, in the latest edition alone, decided that a soap star allegedly cheating on his girlfriend, some nonsense about Jordan and that boxer fella, and Cristiano Ronaldo doing rude things with an underwear model were all in the public interest.

That this pathetic excuse for a newspaper decides a story is ‘not justified’ and ‘thin’ you just know something must be very wrong with it. However, as we all know: the Mail on Sunday were happy to run it.