After all the climategate nonsense we now have Atlasgate. Caused by the total absence of brain matter in a few people employed at Harper-Collins (see original post by Peter Sinclair at Climate Denial Crock of the Week).
I’ll save you the bother of thinking the matter through for yourself. In summary, the words
“green and ice-free”
placed in a press release and referring to Greenland do not mean
“grass grows there” and “there is no ice”
Rather, they mean
“the elevation is low” and “there is up to half a mile of ice permanently on it”
Surprisingly, some people were too dense to get that, and assumed that large parts of Greenland are lush meadows now. Maybe they did believe the statement that this was due to climate change. According to promotional material for the 13th edition of the atlas, this provides “concrete evidence of how climate change is altering the face of the planet for ever – and doing so at an alarming and accelerating rate.”
What morons! English be a very difficult language, methinks!
The lesson to be learned from this: don’t ever trust people who work way outside their area of expertise. Such as journalists, lectors, editors, publishers. DON’T TRUST THEM! They will twist your words and data into the weirdest nonsense, intentionally or out of stupidity. I have met some very laudable exceptions, but the vast majority needs to attend kindergarten again.
Hmm. I don’t really go along with that. My experience has been that people in the media do want to do a good job of being both accurate and entertaining, and that it’s our job to give them what they need to achieve that. The way I think of it is: the science is going to get dumbed down for the general public — of course it is, if they could understand the actual science they they wouldn’t need popularisers. So we just need to accept that, and make sure that we are the ones doing the dumbing down (so we can keep it accurate) rather than giving media people too complex a version of the story so that they have to do the down-dumbing — something that they are not able to do as well as us.
In short, I fear that many instances of scientists’ claims that they have been misrepresented in the media come down to the scientist not having done the necessary work to enable the media people to do their job. Not all instances, but many.
Mike, I am sure you are right as far as many cases are concerned. On the other hand, I have repeatedly met journalists who didn’t write down answers because they didn’t conform to pre-formed opinion, altered texts after proofing by the scientists (reversing the content), willfully ignored advice, then later pointed at the scientist as an authority, and so on.
As mentioned, I met exceptions. To be honest these tended to be people who were paid better, and thus could afford to spend more time. But the problem was summarized in a short exchange I once overheard: “I make news” – “No, unless you make them up, all you do is report them!”
In this case, it’s quite obviously nonsense what a HarperCollins claimed, and it is not a surprise: they are a Murdoch company, too.
Pingback: Fixing errors – the right way! | dinosaurpalaeo