Du Fresne on media

November 15th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne writes:

I recently had what might be termed a clash of professional opinion with some of my fellow journalists. It was touched off by a newspaper editorial that took a whack at “enthusiastic amateurs” sounding off on such issues as climate change, vaccinations and fluoridation.

Everyone was entitled to their opinion, the editorial writer loftily pronounced, but not all views should be accorded equal weight. The views of people with years of study and experience behind them were worth more than those of non-experts.

A member of an internet journalism discussion group to which I belong applauded the editorial, saying she couldn’t agree more. “These amateur know-it-alls are a menace,” she declared.

I thought this a peculiar position for a journalist to take. I mean, aren’t we supposed to believe in freedom of speech?

Another member chimed in that the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s Garth McVicar should be added to the “list of nutters”. Then someone else suggested a couple of other names for what was shaping up as a blacklist: David Round and Lindsay Mitchell.

I am on the mailing list where this discussion occurred and I thought it interesting that the only names of people who should be ignored, are those associated with a centre-right view on controversial issues.

Mr Round is a University of Canterbury law lecturer who has written extensively over many years about Treaty of Waitangi issues. He dismisses the Treaty settlement process as a rort and a gravy train.

Ms Mitchell is a Wellington researcher who, in her own words, sets out to debunk the myths surrounding the welfare state, which she describes as economically, socially and morally unsustainable. Her voice is a courageous and lonely one, challenging the vast body of agencies, bureaucrats and academics with a common interest in propping up an unwieldy and seriously flawed welfare system.

What was immediately noticeable was the individuals dismissed by some of my fellow journalists as not deserving any publicity were, loosely speaking, all Right of centre.

I don’t agree with Lindsay Mitchell on all the welfare issues, but she is very well reserached. She has gathered a huge amount of data under the OIA.

In any case, let’s examine this question of “expert” versus “non-expert” a little more closely.

It was clear from the discussion that the word “expert” is generally equated with a university degree. In the climate change debate, you’re not considered credible unless you have a relevant academic qualification.

But in more than 40 years in journalism, I’ve come across any number of highly qualified “experts” whose opinions seemed to owe more to ideology than to academic credibility. Many academics are moralists by nature, always ready to lecture us on what they see as the world’s failings.

Whatever the subject – whether climate change or alcohol law reform, to choose two topical examples – they are inclined to cherry-pick the theories that suit their political leanings.

Exactly. Not one alcohol expert ever mentioned the fact that the prevalence rate of youth drinking had dropped 40% in the last five years.

I’m not arguing all opinions are equally valid. Absolutely not. But they should be judged on the quality of their research and argument – not on their degree status.

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63 Responses to “Du Fresne on media”

  1. Chuck Bird (4,922 comments) says:

    I think a number of us at our local in a lot of cases could do better than some judges. We certainly would not be telling some 16 year old who had raped a 5 year old that he was looking smart because he was told to wear a tie. Sometimes a degree of common sense counts for more than a degree in law. I am sure many would volunteer their services.

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  2. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,070 comments) says:

    The solution is a massive increase in the salaries of academics to make the roles more attractive to people with right-wing values.

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  3. nocommentkiwi (35 comments) says:

    It is an awkward trend in NZ’s editorials that internet-based discourse is being viewed as meance, but that’s probably more related to the internal stress of the newsprint industry – whom are on the outgoing tide; but haven’t yet managed to crack a service-as-product model with web foundations.

    However, while I wouldn’t say we should suppress ‘nutters’, people need to be aware that nutters exist across society – some are highly qualified, some are in charge of powerful groups. Instead of judging them on their qualifications or titles, people need to be sure to dismiss people whose cases don’t stack up with empirical evidence – people like McVicar do weigh their cases on populism and some freudian understanding of the world as a series of one-upmanships. I would prefer emotion be left out of structuring our legal system – and a science-backed, cost-effective approach was used.

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  4. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    I agree with the editorial writer. The views of journalists should be given lesser weight than those of experts, and they should be removed from writing opinion pieces.

    Journalists are notoriously thick and ill-informed. They ought to be conduits and no more. Many of our problems with media come from their egos getting in the way of reporting. Far too many times I have read a report where the subject was obscured by the writer’s attempt to show how cultures and witty they were.

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  5. Redbaiter (9,464 comments) says:

    The academic and science community has been totally discredited by their support for the myth of anthropogenic global warming. It will take them decades to recover from this hit to their credibility.

    However the whole incredible scenario is proof that we need to listen to the voices of “non-experts”. If it hadn’t been for the persistent outcry from the public, the whole ideologically based scam would have proceeded almost completely undetected and without opposition.

    Similarly academics have recently been exposed as almost left wing ideologists working hard to prevent diversity of political ideas in universities and other educational institutions. They too have lost almost all of their credibility.

    Then we have the media itself. Like academia, it has recently been exposed by man in the street bloggers as an ideologically concentrated force, and it is now in a worse position on credibility than it has ever been in history (and that’s saying something).

    The political stance of the complainers on the subject mailing list exposes the real problem. The left are losing their grip on our public institutions and they’re also thereby losing their monopoly on the political discourse, and they don’t like it.

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  6. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    The solution is a massive increase in the salaries of academics to make the roles more attractive to people with right-wing values.

    The solution is to value actual experience and skill instead of certificates on a wall.

    I am astonished in how consistently useless university graduates are at using common sense or even basic problem solving skills.
    Education is a wonderful asset when implemented correctly, but an absolute disaster when it builds the pride of an individual and nothing else.

    There is nothing worse or more unproductive than some jumped up twerp waving qualifications in your face.

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  7. Alan Wilkinson (1,885 comments) says:

    The Herald consistently writes editorial drivel on a wide range of subjects. The single incontrovertible fact is that journalists have little or no expertise or qualifications in most of the subject areas they take positions on.

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  8. projectman (226 comments) says:

    There was a very interesting discussion on this topic on “Nine to Noon” a month ago. It’s worth listening tobefore getting too involved in replies here. The posdcast can be accessed here:

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2535563/feature-guest-patrick-stokes.asx

    Patrick Stokes, Professor of Philosophy at Deakin University in Melbourne has recently written about how the phrase “entitled to an opinion” is being incorrectly conflated with “entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth”. He says you are not entitled to your opinion – you are only entitled to what you can argue for.

    But…experts are not necessarily unbiased, as is clearly shown by self-interested positions on so-called anthropogenic climate change..

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  9. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    an unwieldy and seriously flawed welfare system.

    Tells us where Karl is coming from. And so Lyndsay is a ‘researcher’. So are all the climate change nutters who research WUWT! Maybe should have added the potty peer to the list.

    What annoys me is that those identified by Karl get so much airtime and are often considered the equal, by the journalists, to those who rightfully can be considered experts in their field.

    What these people are mainly experts at is peddling views founded in ideology and unsupported by actual experiences.

    But as with blinkered neo-liberalists, when the real world doesn’t fit the theory, the real world is wrong.

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  10. trout (944 comments) says:

    This ties in with the current campaign being undertaken by selected ‘pundits’ and the MSM generally against bloggers. In this case they believe bloggers are white-anting David Shearer. Journalists obviously feel threatened by the blogosphere. It is a threat to their jobs and their credibility; no longer can their biased views (passed of as fact) be cast out there without risking being publicly rebutted.

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  11. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    I am astonished in how consistently useless university graduates are at using common sense or even basic problem solving skills.

    Can’t see why that is.

    1. Lower entrance standards so a higher proportion of students are in tertiary, thus lowering quality.

    2. Abandon or weaken traditionally rigorous subjects in the humanities that taught reasoning skills and replace them with lightweight commerce guff.

    3. Allow student choice to weaken standards, as students search for easy courses.

    4. Make professors pass the majority of students on pain of investigations. (I.e. you can’t really fail too many people).

    5. Impoverish students so that they have to take jibs and so can’t properly focus on their studies.

    Wondering why many graduates suck…. Priceless.

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  12. James Stephenson (2,222 comments) says:

    What these people are mainly experts at is peddling views founded in ideology and unsupported by actual experiences.

    But as with blinkered neo-liberalists, when the real world doesn’t fit the theory, the real world is wrong.

    Tell you what, why don’t we consider Economics? Academic and Nobel Prize Winner (Ha! Only exceeded in it’s joke value by Obama’s), Paul Krugman vs Peter Schiff, investment broker and bloke with an accounting degree.

    Who got it right and predicted the GFC? Who is peddling an ideology unsupported by actual experiences and who’s theory doesn’t fit the real world?

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  13. lastmanstanding (1,300 comments) says:

    Usual story with the LEFT. Anyone who disagrees with them no matter how well researched and documented is dismissed as a nutter.

    There are none so blind as those who will not see.

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  14. Bob R (1,385 comments) says:

    I think part of the reason for dismissing someone like MacVicar as a “nutter” is that it avoids having to actually consider his arguments.

    Why would any intelligent person want to avoid opposing arguments? Because they might threaten a sacred value. You see the same thing in discussions of religion. The response is to simply demonise the heretic.

    There was a fascinating article in the NY Times a year ago about Jonathan Haidt’s talk on sacredness and bias in social science research (there seems to be a similar thing in the Climate Change debate to some degree).

    Haidt observes:

    “The politics of the professoriate has been studied by the economists Christopher Cardiff and Daniel Klein and the sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons. They’ve independently found that Democrats typically outnumber Republicans at elite universities by at least six to one among the general faculty, and by higher ratios in the humanities and social sciences. In a 2007 study of both elite and non-elite universities, Dr. Gross and Dr. Simmons reported that nearly 80 percent of psychology professors are Democrats, outnumbering Republicans by nearly 12 to 1.

    The fields of psychology, sociology and anthropology have long attracted liberals, but they became more exclusive after the 1960s, according to Dr. Haidt. “The fight for civil rights and against racism became the sacred cause unifying the left throughout American society, and within the academy,” he said, arguing that this shared morality both “binds and blinds.”

    “If a group circles around sacred values, they will evolve into a tribal-moral community,” he said. “They’ll embrace science whenever it supports their sacred values, but they’ll ditch it or distort it as soon as it threatens a sacred value.” It’s easy for social scientists to observe this process in other communities, like the fundamentalist Christians who embrace “intelligent design” while rejecting Darwinism. But academics can be selective, too, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan found in 1965 when he warned about the rise of unmarried parenthood and welfare dependency among blacks — violating the taboo against criticizing victims of racism.

    “Moynihan was shunned by many of his colleagues at Harvard as racist,” Dr. Haidt said. “Open-minded inquiry into the problems of the black family was shut down for decades, precisely the decades in which it was most urgently needed. Only in the last few years have liberal sociologists begun to acknowledge that Moynihan was right all along.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/science/08tier.html

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  15. redeye (630 comments) says:

    The solution is a massive increase in the salaries of academics to make the roles more attractive to people with right-wing values.

    You don’t need to attract anyone. From my experience massive salary increases more often than not will change the values of the existing towards the right.

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  16. BigFish (132 comments) says:

    All Karl has done is revealed his own bias.
    The experts he has cited have a tendency to want to prove their own beliefs from the outset. Understandable for someone like Garth who is a lobbyist, not so much for someone like Lindsay, who does not appear to have approached her research with an open mind.

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  17. Bob R (1,385 comments) says:

    Haidt’s point again more succinctly: I wonder to what extent this would apply to journalists?

    “Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.”

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  18. Harriet (5,082 comments) says:

    ” The true progressive is the first to realise that they are heading in the wrong direction, turn around, and head elsewhere.” Andrew Bolt – The Herald Melbourne.

    ” It is not the media that invades your privacy, it is the government.” Cassandra Wilkinson -The Australian.

    Virtually ALL journalists and social science academics in NZ trumpet socialist and marxist viewpoints without question nor thought, yet just last century both were discredited by the deaths of 120,000,000 human lives.

    “….In what we tell ourselves is an age of reason, we are behaving increasingly irrationally. A loss of religious belief has led the West to replace reason and truth with ideology and prejudice. The result has been a kind of mass derangement, as truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all turned upside down.” Melanie Phillips – British Writer.

    The NZ media industry has spent far too long in it’s ‘adolesent years’ – it’s about time they fucken grew up!

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  19. flipper (4,188 comments) says:

    I think Du Fresne is partially correc. But Karl has stopped short (probably for space reasons) of canvassing some (not all!) key issues:

    • The electronic media have a list of regulars who are presented as “experts” on issues which, judged by their utterances, they know bugger all. Think about the regulars on TVNZ and TV3. And, for Lords sake they put known left wing academics on the Q+A panel week after week.

    • 2. Academics (well 90+ % anyway) per se have nothing but book knowledge, mostly in a narrow (What was their Phud dissertation on?) field. Their ability to apply their “knowledge” to the real, working world, is almost always zero.

    • 3. Economic commentators are no different. Depending on how they want to skew their presentation they will go to an economist or economic group that will support their (the TV producer’s) line of argument.

    • 4. Before turning finally to a lack of journalistic INTEGRITY, LET ME COMMENT ON THE AGW/CC/Warmist cult and media coverage. Fairfax lost all credibility when it/they entered into a financial arrangement with a Greenpeace subsidiary. That company, its shareholding et al, is described in the Fairfax annual accounts. Media and academics arguing for AGW/CC depend upon the promotion of this canard for their living. Editors just accept the crap and NEVER test wide ranging and risible assertions. There was one such example just this morning on TV One when their weather fool interviewed some “glacier expert” (who is not an expert or he would have known what causes glaciers to expand or contract) comment ion the contraction of the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers. Big deal. They have contracted two (2) Ks since 1750 (yes, 1750) according to an AA/DOC road sign.

    • 5. The AGW/CC debate is not a debate because the warmists have always declined to debate their views (As is the norm in every individual scientific discipline !) with those that disagree. They claim “peer review”. Crap. But they are always reviewed by a “safe” pair of known (not anonymous) hands. Moreover, CC is such a multi-faceted question that it cannot be adequately addressed by any particular field of expertise. Geologists of repute believe they know more ( it is all in the rocks) than weather (as distinct from wider- ranging climatologists) gurus like Salinger, Wyratt et al. Astrophysicists say they can explain temperature variations. Oceanographers say the sea level “increase” is bullshit and back their views with data from ocean buoys and satellites…..

    6. And so on.
    The score:
    • MS media reporters and leader writers — ZERO. The blogosphere 10
    and
    Have a N D :)

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  20. Alan Wilkinson (1,885 comments) says:

    Flipper, well said. As for informed, unbiased media opinion on climate alarmism, the BBC has just been ripped apart here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/12/breaking-the-secret-list-of-the-bbc-28-is-now-public/

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  21. KevinH (1,234 comments) says:

    The internet has created an explosion of opinions and idea’s, some true, some lies, and there is now a greater mass of communication occurring therefore a wider spread of opinions to consider and debate. This can only be regarded as a revolution in mass communication and lobby groups and impassioned individuals now have a medium in which to communicate their idea’s to a wider audience.
    This revolution in communication is set to continue and grow as technology delivers easier ways to communicate and interact, some may choose to use this to good effect, others may choose to abuse it for sinister reasons, but regardless of that, having the freedom to communicate and be heard is the most valuable contribution the internet has made, and it must be preserved and be free of censorship.

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  22. Kimble (4,442 comments) says:

    I agree with the editorial writer. The views of journalists should be given lesser weight than those of experts, and they should be removed from writing opinion pieces.

    Journalists are notoriously thick and ill-informed.

    +1

    Head over to OffsettingBehaviour and have a look at the latest example of anti-alcohol groups joining up with media to push unsupported assertions.

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  23. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    There is a long history of the scientific community being corrupted by monetary enticements. The scientific “consensus” has told us smoking is harmless along with various other harmful foods and substances, due to the risk of losing research funding.

    The most extreme example is AGW. It is a multi trillion dollar global industry employing thousands of people. If it were proven false, science would lose much needed research funding. Thousands of industries would collapse overnight. Rich and powerful people would lose money and face. So they lie, while telling themselves they are morally justified in doing so, because it will advance socialism and environmentalism.

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  24. Redbaiter (9,464 comments) says:

    Thousands of industries would collapse overnight. Rich and powerful people would lose money and face. So they lie, while telling themselves they are morally justified in doing so, because it will advance socialism and environmentalism.

    Basically the very strategy the National Party has adopted to justify its continued pursuit of the ETS.

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  25. Griff (8,084 comments) says:

    Kea
    “The scientific “consensus” has told us smoking is harmless along with various other harmful foods and substances, due to the risk of losing research funding.”

    Merchants of Doubt is a 2010 book by the American science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It identifies parallels between the climate change debate and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. Oreskes and Conway write that in each case “keeping the controversy alive” by spreading doubt and confusion after a scientific consensus had been reached, was the basic strategy of those opposing action. In particular, they say that Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, and a few other contrarian scientists joined forces with conservative think tanks and private corporations to challenge the scientific consensus on many contemporary issues.
    The Marshall Institute and Fred Singer, two of the subjects, have been critical of the book, but most reviewers received it favorably. One reviewer said that Merchants of Doubt is exhaustively researched and documented, and may be one of the most important books of 2010. Another reviewer saw the book as his choice for best science book of the year

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  26. Alan Wilkinson (1,885 comments) says:

    Oreskes is a fanatic and a fraud. Her book is worthless as are the views of most journalists and historians on science.

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  27. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    Griff I have just begun watching a documentary about how medical experts misrepresented studies regarding the health effects of sugar. They did so after lobbying from the food industry. It is all about the money.

    If you want to study mould, funding may be hard to come by. If you can propose that your study may find ways to use mould that will reduce CO2 and provide an alternative energy source, you are far more likely to get that funding.

    Why would you bite the hand that feeds you and deny AGW is a threat ?

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  28. flipper (4,188 comments) says:

    Alan Wilkinson @ 1.17….
    Thanks for that Alan.
    The link is delightful, as is the subject matter, considering how this issue (AGW/CC) has been perverted by the BBC, it is not hard to now understand the Saville (alkbeit unproved, bit too muych smoke foir there tyo be NO fire) debacle (for victims and the BBC per se). On the other hand, there is an un fortunate similarity betwerren BBC and “our”
    dearly bvelived (of David, Anway) Red Radio.

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  29. Griff (8,084 comments) says:

    The Heart land institute
    is an American conservative and libertarianpublic policy think tank based in Chicago, which advocates free market policies. The Institute is designated as a 501(c) non-profit by the Internal Revenue Service and has a full-time staff of 40, including editors and senior fellows. The Institute was founded in 1984 and conducts research and advocacy work on issues including government spending, taxation, healthcare, tobacco policy, hydraulic fracturing. global warming, information technology, and free-market environmentalism.
    In the 1990s, the group worked with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question the science linking secondhand smoke to health risks, and to lobby against government public-health reforms. More recently, the Institute has focused on questioning the science of climate change, and was described by the New York Times as “the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism.” The Institute has sponsored meetings of climate change skeptics, and has been reported to promote public school curricula challenging the scientific consensus on climate change

    In February 2012 environmentalist scientist and president of the Pacific Institute, Peter Gleick, obtained internal Heartland Institute documents and divulged them, together with an additional document he later claimed to have received from an unknown source, to public websites. The documents contained the 2012 Heartland budget, a fundraising plan and board materials. The documents disclosed the names of a number of donors to the institute – including the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, tobacco companies Altria and Reynolds American, drug firms GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Eli Lilly, Microsoft, liquor companies, and an anonymous donor who had given $13 million over the past five years. Some of the documents also contained details of payments to climate skeptics and financial support to skeptics’ research programs, namely the founder of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), physicist Fred Singer ($5,000 plus expenses per month), geologist Robert M. Carter ($1,667 per month) and a pledge of $90,000 to meteorologist Anthony Watts. Carter and Watts confirmed receiving payments. The documents also indicated that the institute planned to provide materials to teachers in the United States to undercut the teaching of global warming in schools.

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  30. Alan Wilkinson (1,885 comments) says:

    Griff, you need to widen your sources so they are less biased and more reliable. Most of the Heartland donors, including Koch etc., were for projects that had nothing whatever to do with climate change. Watts got that grant to develop an additional climate information service – straight current data reporting.

    Apart from lying in order to obtain the documents, Gleick then forged a false document which included the misrepresentation you make about materials to be provided to schools. He then passed that off as a Heartland document.

    That shows the moral quality of your sources.

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  31. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    Griff, you may not realise it, but you are bolstering my central point. (that the consensus can be influenced by things other than science and evidence)

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  32. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Shunda barunda suggests:

    The solution is to value actual experience and skill instead of certificates on a wall.

    I too am a member of the journalists’ discussion group and that’s pretty much the view I took. Interestingly, Karl leaves out expanding on the one comparison which caused the most discussion: Kim Workman vs Garth McVicar.

    I pointed out that the media often wheel these two gentlemen out as equals, but that aside from a BA (Sociology) degree from Massey University, having received a Senior Executive Scholarship from the State Services Commission to attend the Graduate Business School, Stanford University, and having won not one but two Churchill Fellowships to study prison and prisoner-related issues, Workman is also:

    – A former police officer, joining in 1959, rising to the rank of Senior Sergeant, and including 8 years in the Youth Aid Section working with young offenders.
    – A former senior investigating officer in the Office of the Ombudsman for seven years, responsible for investigating complaints from prisoners and psychiatric patients and complaints against the Police.
    – A former Assistant Secretary (Penal Institutions) with Department of Justice, where he oversaw a major reform of the prison service.

    That’s on top of a vast amount of other related experience (Maori Affairs, State Services Commission etc).

    While Garth McVicar is a pissed off farmer.

    Both have an absolute right to their opinion, and the media have an absolute right to print as much or as little of either as they wish. But my point to the discussion group, and now, is that for the media to trot them both out as possessors of equally valid expertise, as opposed to opinion, is misleading.

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  33. Griff (8,084 comments) says:

    “Apart from lying in order to obtain the documents, Gleick then forged a false document which included the misrepresentation you make about materials to be provided to schools. He then passed that off as a Heartland document.”

    You take the CEOs statement as true with no proof.
    Yet you are quite happy to read sites that still trot out the Stolen climate emails as proof after nine reviews have found no fault with the scientists.

    Notice the double standard: to you The Royal Science Society (uk) the National Science academy (usa)The university’s Penn state, East Anglia and the government departments involved have less weight than one CEO when it comes to truth.

    You your self said journalism is not a good source of science information yet you quite happily quote the daily mail as an oracle on climate science as you like the lies.

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  34. Alan Wilkinson (1,885 comments) says:

    “You take the CEOs statement as true with no proof.”

    No I don’t. The false text was studied by an independent textual analyst who concluded Gleick almost certainly wrote it and Heartland did not. AFAIK Gleick has not denied this.

    The climategate emails speak for themselves. They don’t need any official reviews to spin them.

    I didn’t quote the Daily Mail as an oracle. I linked to its report of factual scientific data. Opinions are of no consequence. The facts spoke for themselves – yet again.

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  35. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    Rex Widerstrom, I have a question. Who’s views do the journalists’ discussion group represent ?

    You seem dimissive of the views held by the majority of “ordinary” people. If I was equally pretentious, I would ask you to provide evidence of your own expertise, rather than simply judging your comments on their merit.

    If these experts, you so admire, were as competent as you describe, then we would not have so many social problems in the first place. Experts have been working on law and order issues for years. Reality does not support your elitist views.

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  36. Monty (980 comments) says:

    Gareth Hughes from the Greenies seems to be the worst person for proclaiming an “expert opinion” on anything and everything especially the engineering with Fracking, any oil drilling, roads, McDonalds; labour market economics, exchange rates, impact of the High $ (only affects exports apparently) despite having a degree in History and politics.

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  37. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Danyl McL:

    The solution is a massive increase in the salaries of academics to make the roles more attractive to people with right-wing values.</blockquote

    Getting large amounts of money for doing little work is a left-wing value.

    The right-wing value working hard, and using skills and knowledge to do well in life. It's got nothing to do with money. That's what the left seem to be obsessed with (especially spending other people's).

    If it was actually a challenging and productive job then you might have more right-wingers. But at the moment is money for jam, and that attracts bludgers.

    If you've ever wondered why so many wealthy are Green voters, it's because they gained wealth easily and don't really have to work. The idle rich empathise much more with the idle poor, than they do with those in the middle who work.

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  38. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Kea:

    Who’s views do the journalists’ discussion group represent?

    Well without a demographic poll across the group I can’t answer that with any degree of detail. Working journalists mostly, some former journalists who still dabble (such as myself), some columnists who aren’t reporters (such as Karl) and some people whose ties to journalism are considered strong enough to grant them membership (like DPF). Beyond that – age, sex, income, political leanings – I have no way of knowing, sorry.

    I would ask you to provide evidence of your own expertise

    Well personally I hate people who bang on about themselves, but briefly, I spent about 15 years as a journalist and during that time did a lot of police and court reporting. Found quite a bit of evidence of Police misbehaviour, ranging from the minor (rorting the crime stats to look good) to the major (fitting people up). Printing that led to a series of unpleasant experiences at the hands of Police. At one point I was charged with a crime I didn’t commit and held in jail on remand till the complainant retracted and admitted she’d been asked to lie by Police. Having seen the inside of a jail I decided to devote as much of my time as I can to prison reform. Am now (amongst other things) CEO of the Institute of Restorative Justice and Penal Reform, an Australian “think tank”. Over the past eight years I’ve read countless research studies, attended many conferences, met local and overseas academics, prison administrators, prison officers, politicians, prisoners and ex prisoners. At a rough guess I’ve visited prisons (State and private run) perhaps 300 times. I’ve represented prisoners and ex-prisoners in actions againt prison authorities, and worked with prison authorities to improve prisons. I’ve managed the work of the Institute’s academic researchers and had detailed access to their work. My own university qualifications are not in penology but as I said, while I do value “bits of paper” I value experience more.

    So I’d say on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is “knows everything about prisons” and 1 is “knows only what their own opinion is based on what they’ve heard on the news” Kim Workman is about a 9, I’m about a 5 and Garth McVicar is about a 3.

    And your background is…?

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  39. Griff (8,084 comments) says:

    I linked to its report of factual scientific data. Opinions are of no consequence. The facts spoke for themselves – yet again

    Yet he lied to you there was no met office report saying no warming for sixteen years it was hadCrut 4 http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut4/ that he was referring to
    He did not ask them the question that they would not answer :wink:
    Also it says sixteen years when is sixteen years before 2012 / 7 ?
    The series in question did show a small rise ! .I find it far more interesting that the record of 1998 has been repeated twice since then. Your sixteen years is a time when the historical warmth record has become the norm.

    The paper he links to proving the mwp is of importance points out that the mwp was little warmer than the industrial age Ahem…. as per hockey stick’s

    Not large lies just a series of slight misrepresentations to spin the story Would I trust him for unbiased science worthy of echoing around the denial net work: Not on his record of misrepresenting the truth. Would you: without hesitation :lol:

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  40. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    Rex, I see you have had some experience of the criminal justice system, and I respect the perspective you can bring. Your experiences have motivated you to take an active interest in how the system operates. The same can be said for Mc Vicar.

    I remain unconvinced that journalists can claim to be experts on anything, other than journalism.

    And your background is…?

    I am familiar enough with the “system” to share many of your concerns. I am part of it.

    I do think you should evaluate opinion on its merit, not on the background of the person. That is my point.

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  41. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Kea:

    Moving on to deal with the substance of your views:

    You seem dimissive of the views held by the majority of “ordinary” people.

    I dispute your assertion that the majority of ordinary people hold views akin to Garth McVicar (you haven’t really said what views I’m dismissing, but I assume that’s what you’re implying). In my experience the views of the majority are pretty much what can be read on Kiwiblog, such as the debate we had yesterday on private prisons which veered off into the causes of crime and the effectiveness of prisons generally: far more considered and nuanced than McVicar’s, though not as liberal as mine.

    In any case, if you’re right then yes I do. The majority of ordinary people once held that the sun revolved around the earth because, based on what they saw, that appeared a valid conclusion. They weren’t stupid, it’s just that what they saw was a distortion of reality. Crime and punishment as portrayed by McVicar and the chorus of alarmists is a distorted worldview and since the media generally make no attempt to present the facts on crime and punishment people can be excused for forming erroneous conclusions based on what they do see.

    Experts have been working on law and order issues for years. Reality does not support your elitist views.

    Yes they have, and unfortunately much of what they’ve proved to work is ignored because it’s politically expedient to pretend it doesn’t. For example the “Broken Windows” approach, where you crack down hard on “minor” crimes such as vandalism and disorderly behaviour, has proven efficiacy in arresting the path of young offenders from nuisance offences to to something more serious. But when it’s tried in NZ – such as when a Police officer in, I think, Whanganui, made graffitists wear pink safety vests and clean up their mess – there’s an outcry about how the poor wee dears will be emotionally scarred.

    So instead we let them progress to more serious stuff, which suits our politicians because they can alternately frighten the elctorate with dodgy crime statistics and then sell their snake oil “tough on crime and the causes of crime” prescriptions to an easily duped electorate every three years.

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  42. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Kea:

    I do think you should evaluate opinion on its merit, not on the background of the person. That is my point.

    And here on Kiwiblog, where most people are just here to share opinions as ordinary people with no greater knowledge than anyone else (and that’s me on pretty much any other issue, believe me!) that’s fine.

    What started the debate Karl is whining about is the tendency of lazy journalists to say “Tonight’s topic is crime and punishment. With me today are two experts on the subject, Garth McVicar and Kim Workman…” and launch into the first question.

    Like I said to the journalists’ group, I’ve been a scifi nerd longer than I’ve been anything else. My late best mate and I used to spend hours debating whether various propulsion systems had the potential to make our dreams of commanding the USS Enterprise a reality :-D We read masses on space travel, even scientific monographs. As a result I have opinions – better informed than most people’s, I’d imagine – on whether it’s achievable, and how.

    But no journalist should ever sit me down with a rocket scientist and say “Tonight we’re talking to two experts on space travel…”

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  43. Griff (8,084 comments) says:

    The false text was studied by an independent textual analyst The tab was picked up by heartland :lol:
    I am sure I can find an independent textual analyst who says it was the CEO’s writing.

    As I said you agree with one CEO who tells the story you like
    Yet ignore the respected organisations who don’t

    Critical thinking :lol:

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  44. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    The majority of ordinary people once held that the sun revolved around the earth

    Bad example Rex. They believed that because of what the authorities (and experts) told them. This only changed when those experts views were questioned by non-experts.

    You are calling into question the constructs of the experts, by questioning how the criminal justice system works. I do not dimiss what your saying on the grounds your not “qualified” to have a worthwhile opinion.

    For all its worth, I agree with most of what you have said on the law and order issue.

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  45. Griff (8,084 comments) says:

    It was the church kea that told them the earth was flat and the sun revolved around it
    They are not experts in any thing except theology.
    It changed when scientists ‘astronomers’- experts questioned the church

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  46. Alan Wilkinson (1,885 comments) says:

    Griff: “I am sure I can find an independent textual analyst who says it was the CEO’s writing.”

    I am sure you don’t need to. You will go on believing whatever you want irrespective of evidence.

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  47. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    Yeah I know that Griff.

    The Church was the ultimate authority and the only experts qualified to decide such matters. Allot of good solid science was done by monks and other theists, as a point of fact. However, most were only qualified to address religious issues, just as most journalists are only qualified in journalism.

    My point was to caution Rex in disregarding the thoughts of non-experts as un-informed.

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  48. BigFish (132 comments) says:

    It seems fashionable amongst anti-intellectuals to question recognised experts who disagree with them.
    Which is valid – but it’s painful to watch someone trying to defend their prejudices and attempt to dispel a logical, well researched argument from a well regarded expert in their field who, let’s face it, will likely be of higher intelligence than they are.
    Self appointed experts in some cases are no better than the people who wrongly diagnose themselves with cancer through their ‘research’ on the internet.

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  49. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    BigFish, Few issues have had as much input from intellectuals and recognised experts as law and order.

    How do you think that is going and are you happy with the results provided by the experts ?

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  50. Alan Wilkinson (1,885 comments) says:

    BigFish, an expert opinion is worth no more than the data it is based on. Many miscarriages of justice have been caused by experts whose opinions were not based on any data but supposedly on their “experience”.

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  51. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    This blog is excellent evidence for why genuine experts tend to be left wing.

    Watching you lot get shivved by your own party on climate is going to be fun.

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  52. Alan Wilkinson (1,885 comments) says:

    @Tom, obviously your idea of “genuine experts” is people dependent on taxpayer funding. But real experts are those who create and enhance productive businesses.

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  53. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Kea suggests:

    The majority of ordinary people once held that the sun revolved around the earth

    Bad example Rex. They believed that because of what the authorities (and experts) told them. This only changed when those experts views were questioned by non-experts.

    Hold on… the Catholic Church told people the Sun revolved round the Earth. Gallileo (building on the work of Copernicus) dissented, and was hauled before the Inquisition for his trouble and in 1633 was put on trial “for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the sun is the center of the world”. He was imprisoned and his works burned.

    Galileo was a scientist who proved things by objective experimentation – an “expert” if you will. The Pope, who preached the doctrine of a geocentrism, was certainly an authority but not an expert. No reputable “experts” supported the Pope – heck, even the Jesuits were able to repeat Galileo’s observations by about 1611.

    So the non-experts in this instance were ill-informed, and the experts quickly found the truth. Unless you’re about to mount a rearguard defence of Pope Paul V? ;-) (and Aristotle, who I might have to concede was an expert on some things, though clearly not astronomy).

    Galileo complained, in a letter to Kepler, that some of the philosophers who opposed his discoveries had refused even to look through a telescope. I know just how he felt :-D

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  54. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    Rex, Gallileo was not considered an expert by the authorities at the time . You are applying present day knowledge to an historical event.

    I suggest that you would have excluded Gallileo from debate on such matters, as he did not meet your test of being an expert, or a person worth listening to. The catholic church was the ultimate authority at the time and did dabble in science, sort of.

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  55. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Kea:

    Whoa, we’ve veered off topic in both time and space! I’d have listened to Galileo if he’d presented his findings. Of course I don’t know if I’d have agreed with him in those days but I’ll listen to anyone who uses research to support an argument. That’s why I’ve brought research to the table many, many times on KB to support my opinions on prisons and crime, because I don’t want to be a hypocrite.

    It’s also why I don’t mind debating David Garrett, who’s clearly done some reading. In fact he’s often read the same things I have but reached a different conclusion as to how it might be applied or even what it means for practical policy. Unlike his compatriot McVicar who basically says “Look, this distraught, angry victim wants the perpetrator to get a longer sentence!! Are you going to tell them no, you heartless bastard?!?!” which is about as bad a way to make policy as has ever been thought up.

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  56. Griff (8,084 comments) says:

    authorities

    Wide ranging word kea
    The science body’s to me are far more of an authority on science than blogs and lobby groups.
    The authority’s are the political system now not the church They make the laws that justice up holds
    science is a separate environment than politics in politics you win by opposing the opposition In science you advance by proving something new. To advance in science you must first know what is known Then advance it. In politics you must have a nice smile a firm handshake And other attributes you can full in yourself

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  57. Pete George (23,676 comments) says:

    which is about as bad a way to make policy as has ever been thought up.
    There’s another way just as bad and probably more common – have a TV crew confront distraught family of the victim outside the court after a verdict has been announced and ask them “Are you happy with the sentense? No? Should something be done about that? Now? Do you have closure?”

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  58. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    Rex, I am strongly opposed to laws being passed in response to an emotive public outcry to “do something”.

    We see way too much of that in this country already, to an appalling degree. There are constant cries for more laws in reply to single one off events or infrequent occurrences. We have really lost the plot in this regard. One only has to look at the idiotic hysteria on KB (from otherwise sensible people) when Wilson was released. The level of concern was in no way related to the level of public risk. The hysteria was entirely due it being a sex crime and how that played on the popular imagination.

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  59. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Kea:

    Well said. Provocation defence being another jerk of the knee (though many on KB could see why it was an over-reaction to remove it). I see it in other jurisdictions to – politicians making laws literally on a case-by-case basis, and then the courts having to find a way to stop the statute buggering up the entire legal system.

    Case in point: the WA Police Union didn’t like the criticism its members copped over deaths of innocent third parties due to high-speed chases. So the government rushes head-long into a law to “protect” officers, which essentially says the officer must convince the court he or she was acting in the course of duty and pursuit was justified etc.

    The legal fraternity – including a former Vice President of the Liberal Party – is saying “Errr… you’ve just reversed the burden oif proof and made it harder on the officer” but both the Union and the government live by the old maxim “We must do something! Look, this is something! Let’s do that!”

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  60. Kea (13,192 comments) says:

    Removing provocation as a defence is effectively removing the circumstances under which the offence occurred. In the real world these things do not happen in a vacuum.

    Rabid man hating feminists were right behind the idea of removing provocation. I wonder if they will think it is a such a good idea when an abused and frightened woman wants to use the defence.

    Eg: Drunken abusive partner, who regularly beats and terrorises the entire family, rapes the daughter and has the c family living in constant fear. One night he is sitting watching TV drinking, again. She can not stand it anymore, and whacks him over the head with a lamp, from behind.

    No defence of provocation allowed. The poor man was just watching TV.

    Murder.

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  61. PGleick (1 comment) says:

    While I don’t normally respond to ad hominem attacks and trolls, Mr. Wilkinson’s statements about my actions are false. I have been quite clear in responding to the false attacks from Heartland: All the documents released are from Heartland, I ‘forged’ nothing. The facts in those documents, and the actions of Heartland in trying to confuse the public about climate change science, are remarkably clear and speak for themselves. You may choose to believe the claims about climate science produced by those paid to deny or obfuscate the science, or you can choose to believe the statements from every single national academy of science on the planet, and every single professional scientific organization in the geosciences. I go with the scientists.

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  62. ChardonnayGuy (1,209 comments) says:

    Here’s the problem that I have with this. It is enormously seductive for political parties to succumb to opportunist and populist social and political movements, particularly if they hold expedient and compatible worldviews to their own. However, is it neccessarily *productive?* There are probably issues on which the centre-right relies on a strong evidential basis that are opposed by a populist and opportunist left. Have to say, I’m not particularly sympathetic to populist tactics across the board, which is the reason that I haven’t signed the asset sales CIR petition- I don’t believe in CIRs and I don’t believe that they should be encouraged (John Key is absolutely right on this one! :) )

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  63. ChardonnayGuy (1,209 comments) says:

    Added to which, being gay means you tend to get a lot of populist bullshit shoved from the opposite direction by the raving right (as opposed to the centre right) of the political spectrum, usually by absolute and utter scientific illiterates and charlatans or jacked up ramshackle nohopers feigning credentials in medicine, science or social science. As for du Fresne himself, I have to admit I frequently get bloody annoyed at his failure to acknowledge that he’s speaking from the conservative Catholic bully pulpit position when he pontificates about abortion.

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