The Australian's War on Science 60: Trolling

The Australian has printed an opinion piece by Mark Hendrickx (who presents his own views on global warming in this stunning multimedia presentation alleging that comment moderation at an ABC blog demonstrated bias. I'm guessing that you are thinking that Hendrickx is complaining because he had an off-topic, inaccurate comment removed. But no, his comment wasn't removed and his complaint is that a response to his comment wasn't removed fast enough.

Here's Hendrickx:

In late November last year Sara Phillips, ABC's environment editor, posted an opinion piece about climate negotiations at Cancun to her taxpayer-funded blog. I left a comment suggesting she might be better off covering a recent paper published in the Journal of Climate co-authored by Steve McIntyre. This work refuted an earlier study published in Nature in the summer of 2009 and widely covered by the ABC which claimed there was unusual warming in west Antarctica due to man-made global warming. McIntyre and co-authors O'Donnell, Lewis and Condon proved the statistical methodology of the Nature study was flawed and the results erroneous.

Not only was the comment off topic, it was wrong. O'Donnell (first author of the paper) wrote:

Overall, we find that the Steig reconstruction overestimated the continental trends and underestimated the Peninsula - though our analysis found that the trend in West Antarctica was, indeed, statistically significant. I would hope that our paper is not seen as a repudiation of Steig's results, but rather as an improvement.

Hendrickx did a whole Gish Gallop in comments for Sara Philips' post, with several more comments, all off topic and each one getting at least one thing wrong. (For example: "Global sea ice levels are currently at average levels." Not so). He naturally drew comments disagreeing with him. According to Hendrickx, one of them was this:

The denialist clowns return again . . . . . . run by Stephen McIntyre a known climate denialist and extremist right-wing provocateur . . . you are a joke as are your answers . . . laughing hysterically.

Hendrickx continues:

On seeing the comment I alerted Phillips, suggesting the comment should be removed as it contravened ABC posting rules, namely, 4.4.1 defamatory, or otherwise unlawful or that it violates laws regarding harassment, discrimination, racial vilification, privacy or contempt; 4.4.2 intentionally false or misleading; 4.4.4 abusive, offensive or obscene; 4.4.5 inappropriate, off topic, repetitive or vexatious; 4.4.9 deliberate provocation of other community members.

Well, yes it was off topic, but that was because it was a response to Hendrickx's own off topic comment. I'm reminded of the story of the man who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan.

Anyway, after a bit of back and forth, the comment Hendrickx gets his way and the comment he doesn't like gets removed and that it is the end of it. Ha ha! Just kidding. He wasted taxpayers money by making an official complaint to the ABC because they hadn't apologized to McIntyre as well as removing the comment. And then The Australian printed his opinion piece about how the ABC was wasting taxpayers money with its blogs.

And three days later The Australian ran another story about a blog comment that was deleted. Apparently Matthew Franklin, a journalist at The Australian, who previously featured in The Australian's War on Science 45, was ego-googling for "Matthew Franklin" and found a comment on a blog post at Crikey that was a parody of a Matthew Franklin story. Matthew Franklin complained to Crikey and they removed the comment. The headline in The Australian the next day? "Crikey forced to remove fake Abbott story".

John Quiggin has now created a category, #Ozfail, for this and similar skirmishes in The Australian's ongoing war on everything.

More like this

How I wish the Australian would remove articles that are erroneous, stop printing false headlines etc.

Here is the latest example of a false headline - 'Coal jobs are safe with us: Greg Combet':…

When you read the article there is not one direct quote from Combet saying 'coal jobs are safe'. On the contrary, according to the article, Combet is talking about compensation and is quoted as saying: " it was prepared to negotiate on transitional assistance for sectors such as coal and aluminium."

If 'coal jobs are safe' why would Combet be talking about 'transition'?

Any other text is not a direct quote, but the lead para of the article says that "he (Combet) is confident of striking a compensation deal with the Greens to protect jobs in heavy polluting industries"

The entire article is full of contradictions. I am not any the wiser after reading it. But I cannot see the sense of a carbon price if jobs in the coal industry are to be retained.

Ahh, yes - Marc Hendrickx.

Late last year he wrote a thousand-words of bog-standard denialist IPCC-bashing, also on /Unleashed/:

And, on the threads in response, here's what he said:

Marc Hendrickx :

18 Nov 2010 3:45:01pm

(The irony is wonderful)
I agree with most of the IPCC reports and the Academy reports, however having an understanding of some of the fundamental problems and uncertainties involved in the science, I have reservations about parts of them. Reservations shared with scientists more qualified than I am, scientists infinitely more qualified than you.

(end quotes)

Note that Hendrickx says "I agree with most of the IPCC reports". Now here's some quotes from his own article, to which he appended that comment:

"If IPCC Climate scientists were Physicists:[...]They would tell us apples fall down, but theyâd be unable to tell us how fast, and occasionally they may actually fall upwards."

"If IPCC climate scientists were engineers they wouldnât use rulers to measure distance, theyâd use the wind."

"Applying the same laser like precision of the climate models to eye surgery in 7 out of 15 cases IPCC climate scientists as laser surgeons would blind the left eye, while in 8 out of 15 cases they would blind the right."

(end quotes)

But Hendrickx "agrees with most of the IPCC reports". Why, he says so himself...

Of course, he's never actually /explained/ the divergency between the two sets of statements. When I pressed him, what he said was this:

Marc Hendrickx :

18 Nov 2010 3:45:01pm


So who's more qualified to comment? Me or you?
Z: No qualifications in science whatsoever (I have), no peer reviewed publications whatsoever (I do), no peer reviewed publications in a climate science related field (I have). Any awards from Scientific societies (I have).

(end quotes)

And, when asked by someone else - not me! - to provide evidence of his publication record, the answer was this:

Marc Hendrickx :

18 Nov 2010 7:53:23pm

Happy to do so, but you'll need to contact me directly.

(end quotes)

Climate change denial - open, honest, consistent...


Perhaps the most prudent comment I can offer is an eloquent shrug. But I will say this - those who can follow the presentation which Tim linked to to its sorry end will find that the teacher finally chases Al Gore from the classroom at rifle point, in front of her class.

This is the material which Hendrickx produces - and which was published as an /Unleashed/ story. ( And he complains about other people's postings to the ABC falling into the category of "abusive, offensive or obscene"...

By Zibethicus (not verified) on 04 Mar 2011 #permalink

"News Ltd finds goon to attack ABC", part the umpteenth.

Yes I spotted Hendricx , but decided he was sufficiently mad that he was his own "rebuttal". Another McIntyre fanboi.

By Bill O'Slatter (not verified) on 04 Mar 2011 #permalink

News Ltd goons don't need to attach the ABC - instead of being outside the ABC tent pissing in, they are inside the ABC spiegeltent and still pissing in! They take their ideology with them, it is truly in their waters.

By Donald Oats (not verified) on 04 Mar 2011 #permalink

"If 'coal jobs are safe' why would Combet be talking about 'transition'?"

Your point would hold water if that is all he said. You are doing what the media is guilty of doing every day. You are taking a line out of the response from Mr, Combet. Mr. Combet also said that coal would be safe, if the industry develop a clean way of burning it.

You are right about the head-line, as Mr. Combet did not promise coal jobs would be safe the way it exists to day, the industry would have to change it behaviour to be safe.

By Catching up (not verified) on 04 Mar 2011 #permalink

That ****. I did comment on his story pointing out some of the many errors but they declined to publish. They also chose not to correct any of the many errors.

Sadly, this is the behaviour I expect from MSM, Murdoch owned stooges in particular.

I just viewed the video. I'm flummoxed.

@ catchingup - I've just read an ABC article with an almost identical headline to that in The Australian.…

In the ABC article, this is the closest direct quote to the headline from Combet that I've found:
"There's a lot of details to be discussed yet but as we move to a lower emissions economy, we do that transition over a good period of time and we make sure that we support jobs in important industries," he said.

"Coal is our largest export industry and we've got many others that are operating in international marketplaces that have to be dealt with sensibly as we reduce our pollution in our economy."

I do not believe the above quote justifies the ABC headline "Coal jobs safe under carbon scheme: Combet" either. Combet is still talking 'transition' and 'supporting jobs' rather than 'job protection'.

Despite what catchingup said about me cherry-picking quotes, I cannot read any direct quote in the Australian article that justifies the headline, so I cannot see where I'm cherrypicking quotes. Nor is there anywhere in The Australian article I linked to, nor the ABC article I linked to where Combet said jobs would be safe if the industry developed a clean way of burning it. I'm not saying he didn't say that, just that it is not in either article and therefore the headlines don't appear to reflect the article. (In any case, I know of no way to 'safely' burn coal.)

Maybe Combet is good at double-speak. He's got probably at least three audiences, people who want to see Australia phasing out coal, the coal industry and the coal unions.

If the government does compensate the coal industry, what is the point of the carbon price? Surely the government would be better off adjusting the carbon price over time rather than give 'compensation', if they want to 'transition'.

Zibethicus, I just read Hendrickx little minimum opus. He starts of by asserting that Lamb's graph of central England temperatures as featured by the IPCC first assessment report is the correct reconstruction of global temperatures, and that M&M 2003 proved that to be the case. In other words, he begins with a deliberate lie to children, and goes downhill from there.

A real eye opener, and a clear sign of the loss of journalistic standards at the ABC following the Howard governments politically based appointments to the ABC board.

10: Zibethicus, I just read Hendrickx little minimum opus. [...] In other words, he begins with a deliberate lie to children, and goes downhill from there.

(end quotes)

Yup. But at least he shows the kiddies how to settle any argument in your own favour; by using a gun.

You've heard of 'muscular patriotism'? Meet 'gunpowder science'...

10 again: A real eye opener, and a clear sign of the loss of journalistic standards at the ABC following the Howard governments politically based appointments to the ABC board.

(end quotes)

As a fairly old hand over at /Unleashed/, I wouldn't really expect too much from them.

They publish Hendrickx, Bob Carter and Joanne Nova as 'balance'.

Their moderation policies reflect the same rather skewed commitment to 'balance', to say the least.

I am afraid that history will judge the ABC very, very harshly indeed on this matter.

By Zibethicus (not verified) on 04 Mar 2011 #permalink

If I were to say "I think that Marc Hendrickx is an ill-informed, scientifically-illiterate idiot", would Tim Lambert be forced to remove the comment from this thread?

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 04 Mar 2011 #permalink

Bernard@12: No, because Hendrickx doesn't have the pull, except at Howard's ABC. Slainte.

I hope, at least, Tim, this is sometimes entertaining for you.

This reminds me of Mitchell and Webb, only dead serious.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 04 Mar 2011 #permalink

The Australian's War on Science 60: Trolling

I love this neverending war. Go Deltoid! you can win it!

Lovely presentation by Mr. Hendrickx.

I particularly liked the the idea that global warming "means less [sic] people will die from the cold". Apparently he missed the news about the heatwave that killed over 14,000 people in France a few years ago.

I live in a relatively cold area (Eastern Canada). I don't remember the last time someone died from the cold here.

Oh maybe global warming is helping. It has not been below -20 in over a week--maybe even two weeks.

Sou @ 1, if The Australian removed erroneous stories and false headlines, it'd be a pretty slender little rag - about all they'd have left is the stock market report and the TV programs.

>*if The Australian removed erroneous stories and false headlines, it'd be a pretty slender little rag*

- That is unless they changed direction and [started reporting some news](!

Mr Hendrickx is pretty thin-skinned if he feels abused by the 'offending' comment. Commenters who put 'contrary' views on blogs are regularly subject to the same kind of thing. There's virtually nil likelihood of remedy in such cases, but the habitually aggrieved such as Hendrickx get their 6c/day's worth out of the ABC.

Maybe the ABC can go for balance by finding disagreements between serious climate scientists. Get someone whose research indicates that climate sensitivity is 3 degrees, and for balance, get someone whose research gives them a value of 2.5 degrees.

Or perhaps, for balance they could give a genuine crank their say. Electric universe, Einstein was wrong, illuminati, flat earthers, earth centrists, our value for Pi is wrong..... These people exist, and never get a run in the media. It would be fun to explain the the climate skeptics that there were a lot of alternative views ahead of them in the queue, and they'll just have to wait their turn.

By John Brookes (not verified) on 05 Mar 2011 #permalink

Exactly whose opinion is the ABC representing by running these pieces. It can't be the Liberals as Greg Hunt claims they accept climate science. Even Abbott stated on Brisbane radio that climate change was real. Perhaps they accept the view expressed by Turnbull that Abbott's position is a fig leaf and he still thinks that climate science is "crap" - in which case they would be representing the "mind of Tony".

Or more likely they are following the dictate of ABC chairman and flat earther Maurice Newman. So my 8c a day (or whatever it is these days) is to pay for the ABC to become a mouthpiece for a anti-science former stockbroker who happens to be a close friend of John Howard. So much for "my ABC".

Okay, my apologies about the "ABC costs 6c/day" anachronism, which was a number I plucked out of some ancient bundle of synapses perhaps dating from the David Hill era. The latest figure is now up to a crippling 10c/day, which increase may in large part be attributable to soaring administrative costs of dealing with vexatious complainants. Just a guess, mind.

Given the free run the ABC gives to the Institute for Public Affairs to peddle their nutty free-market ideology with great frequency, any charge that the ABC's opinion web-pages have a left-wing bias is plainly groundless.

To really balance the regualr flow of IPA nonsense they'd have to give a regular spot to some hard-line Trotskyists or similar.

Not that I'm suggesting they should - there are already too many political fringe-dwellers on their site.

Speaking of the ABC, they are starting to take over from the Oz as a sceptic's forum. Here is today's effort:

Tim, might have to start a series on the ABC's war on science as well.

By Jimmy Nightingale (not verified) on 06 Mar 2011 #permalink

@ Zibethicus #2 - can't find any peer reviewed articles by that particular Marc Hendrickx on Google Scholar, although a published comment on a study on butterfly hatching in relation to warming temperatures might be what he has in mind when claiming status as a scientist... ("Early emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming")

By William T (not verified) on 06 Mar 2011 #permalink

Apologies Jakerman, still bears repeating.

By Bill O'Slatter (not verified) on 08 Mar 2011 #permalink