Bud Ward, the editor of the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media, weighs in on the Heartland billboard furor:
What stands out amidst the initial widespread revulsion is that the criticisms of Heartland’s effort came not only by the usual cadre of what climate skeptics dismissively call “warmists,” but also by those ideologically in synch with the group. In addition to their disgust with the message, of course, came their disappointment that the billboard had handed Heartland’s many adversaries a useful weapon of criticism.
Indeed, this disappointment is quite evident in the comment threads at various blog sites. I think I read one person ruefully lament that there was no way to unring this bell. And Heartland can’t stop the bell from ringing, either, because it has thus far refused to acknowledge its blunder, much less apologize. It seems it will get worse for them before it gets better (if at all).
On an unrelated note, I have a short piece up today, as well, at the Yale Forum. It’s about an enterprising journalism project that I’ll be watching with much interest.
Lastly, also new at the site is discussion of the “striking” results of a recent study that found six distinct climate change storylines that have played out on broadcast television news the last decade. It’s an important data point for climate media scholars and everyone else interested in how climate change gets translated on TV. As the piece explains:
The premise of the study is that we humans are, whatever else we are, story-telling animals: We make sense of, form beliefs about, and establish our stances on issues such as climate change less on the basis of reason or experience and more on the basis of the stories we subscribe to. Moreover, the news media are, whatever else they are, purveyors of story, always on the lookout for a narrative angle that will capture the attention of viewers, listeners, or readers.
That’s right. Journalists are always on the prowl for a good story. People who accuse us of left/right/center bias should never forget that. What we care about, above all, is the story.
That also explains why the current Heartland saga or Climategate, or the latest weather disaster are always natural story fodder.
There was talk that the much maligned (but heavily trafficked) Huffington Post gained some journalistic cred after it snagged a Pulitzer Prize this year. We should keep in mind what makes the Huffpo engine run. As the LA Time’s Tim Rutten wrote:
The bulk of the site’s content is provided by commentators, who work for nothing other than the opportunity to champion causes or ideas to which they’re devoted.
We should also judge the “internet newspaper” on the substance of its overall content. Take the Huffpo’s UK science edition, for example. If it has an editor (much less a science editor), I’d be shocked. There are two stories fronted recently on its page that are so bad they read like parody. One of them is by an editor of a fashion website. Her piece argues that
Victorian, matter-based, Darwinian model of evolution is backward-thinking and flawed given the recent leaps and bounds in metaphysical sciences and physical historical evidence disproving linear evolution. The ideology we randomly mutated from ocean slime to our knuckle-dragging neanderthal long-long lost cousins to our current incarnation is one that’s been dogmatically accepted into mainstream evolutionary hegemony without challenge until recent years.
Wait, it gets better. The whacky builds on the whacky, to this near the end:
Everything is energy – including us. Life is the interaction of magnetic vibrational fields and our evolution is subject to the cosmos, not random selection. There have been peak sunspot emissions and coronal mass ejections in 2012 so it’s little surprise humankind is awakening.
Unlike Darwin, the Maya, ancient Hindus and Hopi Indians recognised evolution/time as cyclical. There is overwhelming global, physical evidence that vast, advanced civilisations preceded us: the technology in which to create, many of today’s engineers assert we do not possess.
The audacious lunacy of the article seems to surprise even PZ Myers, who deconstructs it in typical fashion. It was his post that got me poking around Huffpo’s UK science section, where I came across the weirdest thing I’ve ever read on global warming. It’s by a musician who leads off his piece (and stay with it, just for fun) this way:
This past February, 2012, on the day after the Superbowl, I achieved enlightenment on a flight from Ushuaia Argentina, the southernmost city in the world, headed back to The United States.
It wasn’t the first time I’d achieved such a glorious and all encompassing perspective; that moment where you think and figure less, and simply just are. a being. being; experiencing your interconnectedness to all things; realising what you are is only that you are. and in that; everything.
The first time I experienced it was in a bath tub in New York City. For no reason to my knowledge I suddenly saw how every tile surrounding the tub was made, manufactured, and grouted with love. I saw how the plumbing was only made possible by a plumber who either loved his job or his family, enabling him to do such a fine job connecting the pipes from below the city streets all the way up to the 23rd floor where I was pruning in the tub. Behind every detail I saw an act of creation by a creature who was a product of creation itself. The material world seemed less material and appeared to me as it really was; an extension of my experience, that which I sometimes call my Self. I didn’t float in the tub figuring it all out or making anything up, it was just a clear and present stream of consciousness that brought me to tears; eventually twisting its way down the drain and leaving me just as watered and weighed down by the gravity of being human trying to maintain or make sense of the memory, as I was uplifted only moments before.
Everything about this, from the lack of copyediting, to the long, nonsensical wind-up, wouldn’t be tolerated at a respectable high school newspaper.
You know who’s laughing loudest? Arianna Huffington, who probably can’t believe she’s making millions off of dreck like this.