Phil Watson, Team Leader of the Coastal Unit in the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water was probably pleased when The Australian's Stuart Rintoul asked to interview him about his work. Watson was the man who organised A snapshot of future sea levels: photographing the king tide. The photographs of the king tide in 12 January 2009 are intended to help prepare NSW to adapt to a possible 90cm of sea level rise this century. So I'm guessing he wasn't too pleased when Rintoul's front page story about his work claimed that "Watson has written a report stating that global warming is not affecting sea levels" and that this report showed that sea level would only rise about 15 cm this century. You can imagine that Rintoul's story might make it a bit harder for Watson to get folks to prepare for a 90cm rise.
His department wrote to The Australian:
I refer to today's article titled, Sea-level rises slowing: tidal records.
Your article has misrepresented our Mr Phil Watson's research paper by saying that "global warming is not affecting sea levels". This is untrue and misleading and it is not what Mr Watson told your journalist. Mr Watson's research looked only at measurements of historical data. It specifically did not consider predicted linkages between sea level rise and global warming predicted by climate models.
Our organisation is committed to open scientific investigation. This important research will help us understand the different contributions of the El Nino-La Nina Southern Oscillation and of climate change to sea level change. The research and underlying data is entirely consistent with the rate of global average sea level rise for the 20th century advised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was of the order of 17 +/- 5 cm.
There is strong national and international evidence that sea levels will increase substantially in this century. The world is warming and this includes the ocean. When water warms, it expands and sea level rises.
Sea level rise is a slow process but it has serious medium and long term impacts. The projections are for a rise of 40 cm by 2050 and 90 cm by 2100 in NSW, and this data is reflected in NSW policies. Our scientists are working with others to increase understanding of what and where the impacts may be, so that we can better plan for and help local communities adapt. If we are prudent now, we can substantially reduce future costs.
Do you think that The Australian printed this letter?
Of course not.
Instead they repeated the misrepresentation in an editorial
In February last year we published a front-page story quoting then climate change minister Penny Wong's warning that rising oceans could see some of our most famous beaches destroyed or eroded back "hundreds of metres" over the coming century. We quoted scientific opinion suggesting that claim was exaggerated and we also went to Bondi Beach to seek the views of locals. Patrick Doab, who had been swimming there for more than three decades without noticing significant changes said: "I think it's just too drastic to say that the beach is going to change and (my grandchildren) won't be able to go to a beach like this."
A couple of days later on ABC TV's Insiders program, Fairfax journalist and left-wing commentator David Marr said: "This week The Australian had a nice bloke at Bondi, he'd been swimming at Bondi for years, and they led the paper with this story, they had his picture on the page saying, you know, 'I've been swimming at Bondi for 30 years and I haven't noticed the ocean come up' . . . complete nonsense." Fellow guest, ABC presenter Fran Kelly, chimed in, "Yeah, nonsense." They returned to their discussion about how this newspaper was deliberately overstating the problems confronting then prime minister Kevin Rudd.
Well, we don't need to inform them that when it came to holding back the tide of voter disenchantment, Mr Rudd proved to be no King Canute. And now, no doubt to the astonishment of Marr and Kelly, the ocean tides don't seem to be behaving according to their preferred script either. As we reported yesterday, NSW's principal coastal specialist, Phil Watson, has produced peer-reviewed analysis of ocean-level measurements, concluding increases are far below previous climate science predictions. (So he measured what Mr Doab had observed). His work has been endorsed by Macquarie University climate researcher Howard Brady. "In all cases, it is clear that sea-level rise, although occurring, has been decelerating for at least the last half of the 20th century," says Dr Brady.
In fact, Watson's paper found that sea level rise had accelerated at the end of the 20th century. The deceleration only appeared when you calculated a quadratic trend since 1920 (Corrected see here). But look at the data:
The quadratic trend has sea level not increasing at all at the end of the 20th century even though that's when sea level is increasing most steeply. The problem is that a quadratic trend isn't adequate to describe what happened to sea level over the century. Stefan Rahmstorf has more details on problems with a similar paper using US data.
And what of "Macquarie University climate researcher Howard Brady"? If you read Rintoul's story carefully, you will note that Brady's role is crucial. Rintoul could not get Watson to say the things he wanted, so he needed Brady in the story to make the statement Rintoul wanted. (That sea levels would only rise 15cm).
In 2002 The Australian described him like this:
Sometime Catholic priest, schoolteacher, Antarctic chaplain, honorary US Navy Lieutenant-Commander, geologist, stockbroking analyst, business consultant, academic author and researcher.
With such a CV, 61-year-old Howard Brady seems an unlikely boss of an oil company.
But as managing director of Mosaic Oil, which is producing and exploring in Queensland's Surat Basin, Dr Brady has brought his undoubted skills to the intellectual problem of producing gas from Permian rocks, a geological strata usually disregarded in Australian oil and gas exploration.
Brady retired from Mosaic in 2005 and his only publication in climate science are a couple of letters to the editor in Sydney Morning Herald where he was just as dismissive of sea level change as he is now.
Thanks to Andrew, Jimmy, Mike and Hank in email and comments.
Update Tamino does a much better analysis of the data:
But now we come to one of the very big problems: instead of just using the smoothed (20yr moving average) values to gain insight from the graph, he actually treats them as data and subjects them to analysis. ...
In fact the first and last 20 years of data get less than a full "vote" in the time evolution of the signal, and the closer to the beginning or end the less vote they get. This downplaying of the earliest and latest values -- especially the latest -- undermines our ability to determine the most recent behavior and whether or not the time series has recently shown acceleration.
When fitting a quadratic curve to estimate the acceleration, excluding the late data can actually change the sign of the result. Consider the Fremantle data from 1940 to the present (one of the data sets used by Watson). ... But when I use the actual data in the same analysis (with the annual cycle removed), the estimated acceleration is positive, 0.013 mm/yr/yr. By suppressing the influence of the most recent data, an estimate of acceleration has been changed to one of deceleration.
Update 2: The Conversation does what Rintoul somehow could not do and talks to someone from the CSIRO.
The printed story contains a graphic contrasting the 89cm sea level rise by 2100 predicted by the IPCC with the 15cm sea level rise "as predicted by the NSW Department of
Environment and Climate Change".
Update 3: Crikey reports:
Angry that Deltoid and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage had accused him of misrepresenting the report, journalist Stuart Rintoul told Crikey that people had "read an incorrect caption on an online version of the story ... that's what they're complaining about and that's not in the article ... that's it, it's very straightforward". Furthermore, "I've had several conversations with Phil Watson, he's got no complaint with anything that's in the body of the article."
Rintoul's article also misrepresented Watson's paper by saying that it showed that sea level would only rise 15cm by 2100.
"So the idea that I've misinterpreted this research is entirely wrong, entirely wrong ... I'm seeing this online headline saying 'Stuart Rintoul misinterprets a scientific paper', and it's ...outrageous."
Yes, Rintoul's misrepresentation was outrageous.
"As to Howard Brady, he made contact with us, he has published Antarctic research articles in the Antarctic Journal of the United States, Nature, Science, and the English Journal of Geology and Geophysics, and his criticisms of CSIRO modelling were judged newsworthy."
Brady's publications were on Antarctic sediments not climate, let alone sea level. And his last ublication was in 1983.
"The differences between CSIRO modelling and tide gauges is the subject of continuing reportage."
Though no reporting in The Australian of what the CSIRO says on this matter.
Update 4 I asked Watson about Rintoul's claim that Watson agreed with the Rintoul's interpretation of his paper. I got this reply:
Mr Watson believes he was quite specific with Stuart Rintoul that his paper presented an analysis of measured historic data but that it was not appropriate to extrapolate future sea level rises on the basis of this analysis.
Update 5: Post continued here.
Thanks for keeping up this record. It is an important resource to point people to in order to help them see just how systematically the debate is skewed by certain media sources (and somehow, there seems to be some kind of positive correlation with Murdoch ownership - isn't that odd? Guess it must be some kind of quirk in the system. Best to ignore it...).
Brady seems to like honorary titles. As for "honorary US Navy Lieutenant-Commander", that seems a little suspicious. Googling didn't get me too far other than to suggest those don't get handed out often, and almost always to domestic and foreign military officers (Bill Cosby got one but even he's former Navy).
Now that the Murdoch empire is on the brink of collapse - for such it is, as its plummeting share price indicates (the truth about advertising revenues is far, far worse) and its holdings more than likely to be broken up, one can only hope that 'The Australian' will find owners with a higher regard to science, truth and the fundamentals of respectable journalism.
Breathtakingly shitty work by Rintoul.After being introduced as expert and author,Watson is thrust aside for the falsely introduced Brady to make the running on the paper. I had to pinch myself.
Great discussion by [Tamino](http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/how-not-to-analyze-tide-gauge-da…) of the Watson et al analysis. Seems there is a recent acceleration in the sea level rise over the last 50 years, as long as you properly smooth the data and use the right model.
Oooops, meant last 30 years. Anyway, you'll see.
I checked out Brady on ISI. He did research into glacial sediments back in the day - he last published a paper in 1983!
One can only hope that ltd. news collapses completely & becomes a footnote in history.
What a bunch of ratbags!
Sadly, the ABC have essentially repeated The Australian's outrageous beat-up, even copying the Howard Brady junk. see http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/07/22/3276012.htm
My comment on the Rintoul article was, to my surprise, published by the Australian and was as follows:
âSea level rise is the result of melting of snow and ice and expansion of water, both caused by rising temperature. Given that average global temperature is rising and that loss of land based ice is also rising, both at an accelerating rate, the inevitable consequence is that sea level will also rise. Given these conditions, it is likely that any deceleration now being observed will not last long. Any suggestion that we can relax because dangerous sea level rise is reduced would be very unwise indeed.â
My view is that the predicted sea level rise of around 1m by 2100 is very conservative and given the increasing rate of loss of land based ice, particularly from polar regions, will be at least double and possibly greater than 2m.
Hansen et al 2011 predicts loss of ice from the Greenland ice sheet will double each decade of this century, increasing from 125 gigatonnes per annum in the year 2000 to 130,000 tonnes per annum in 2100. Were this to occur and were similar loss of ice to occur from the W. Antarctic ice shelf Hansen postulates a non-linear catastrophic 5m. rise in sea level by 2100.
Hansen also notes that sea level at the Eemian maximum was 5m. higher than present levels and that present average global temperature is now only a few tenths of a degree below the Eemian maximum and continuing to rise.
The concerns expressed by Dr Hansen are factual. So far, ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet has exceeded his prediction of decadal doubling and we would be well advised to take his warning very seriously indeed.
Rather than purporting to placate concern over future sea level rise by misrepresenting the findings of Phil Watson, The Australian would better serve the public interest by telling the truth and recognising, as Phil Watson does, that sea level will rise by at least 1m. by 2100 and is likely to rise much higher.
Rod H, I disagree. The ABC fairly represents Watson's claims, including a mention that there is a discrepancy between his findings and global reconstructions which show an accelerating trend. It mentions Brady's opinion, but correctly identifies him as an honorary associate at Macquarie, rather than using the Australian's very misleading "climate researcher at Macquarie University", and then follows with some sensible comments by Kathleen McInnes. Given that Brady has already been introduced by The Australian and hence could not be ignored, that is a reasonable and balanced report.
In post 11, I refer to ice loss of "130,000 tonnes per annum by 2100". The reference should have been to ice loss of 130,000 gigatonnes per annum.
Tamino has a post and may try a response at JCR
Tom, the ABC report is falsely balanced. Brady has no relevant expertise and should not be in the story at all, let alone having his views given the greatest prominence in the story. See first sentence:
>"A recently published study on sea level rises in Australia and New Zealand has some questioning the effect of climate change on the oceans."
Furthermore, the ABC is letting The Australian and its agenda choose what it reports on. Did they have a story on Watson's "A Snapshot of Future Sea Levels"? Of course not.
Does anyone else notice how The Australian ALWAYS puts comment threads at these sorts of articles, as if in anticipation of the deluge of smug, ignorant denialist bile that invariably fills them?
Tim, I won't argue the ABC report was perfect because, obviously it was not. I don't like that first paragraph either, even though it is factual. I would have liked Brady's remarks to be prefaced by comments such as, "Some media sort comment from former gas exploration executive, and paleobotanist, Dr Howard Brady, who said, '...'".
However, like it or not, once a person's views have been quoted on the front page of a leading national newspaper (and undeserving as it is, that is what The Australian is), they cannot be simply ignored. While denier comment should never be sort in the first instance out of false balance, once it is part of the story in the mainstream media it cannot be simply ignored. And given that, while the ABC's report could have been better, it could have been very much worse, and is no where near as bad as indicated by RodH.
Ark, not only puts in the comment threads, but actively censors them so that, for example, my mention that Brady was an oil executive, and reference to a 2011 global study showing accelerated sea level rise resulted in my post not getting through moderation.
"However, like it or not, once a person's views have been quoted on the front page of a leading national newspaper (and undeserving as it is, that is what The Australian is), they cannot be simply ignored."
I don't see why not. Why perpetuate the lie that Brady's opinions have any relevance to climate science? Why give him false standing by continuing the *Australian's* mistake? Brady should not be mentioned at all as an example of a person "questioning the effect of climate change on the oceans". Who cares what he thinks? The only people they should quote in that context are scientists studying sea level rise. Anything else is an attempt to show controversy where none is.
Mike Pope @ 7
Clearly the phone hacking scandal has raddled the editors at the Australian :)
It gets a lot worse, apparently.
Murdoch's "hackers" may be responsible for 'climategate'!
"On November 20th, 2009, somebody broke into a computer server at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and stole thousands of emails and computer files. The documents were leaked to Climate Change Deniers, and although exhaustive analysis later proved that the emails merely revealed scientists' anxiety that Climate Data and Research were being properly handled and studied, the Deniers have treated those emails as if they were a kind of Holy Grail of fraud. They claim the emails not only disproved all of climate change, but also that they proved that scientists had doctored data in order to exaggerate the urgency of an international conference on climate change coming up the next month in Copenhagen in Denmark.
As the corporations and lobbyists who sought to feed the myth that there is no man-made climate change disseminated, exploited and deliberately misinterpreted the stolen e-mails - and used Fox News and other Murdoch enterprises as their principle venues - the victims, the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, decided they'd better hire a public relations pro to help them fight back. They hired ... Neil Wallis."
Robert Murphy, one good reason to mention Brady is that, provided you make clear his links with the fossil fuel industry, it becomes a story about objective scientists analyzing data, and the fossil fuel industry trying to spin it. Another is that in doing so you reveal the biased reporting of the Australian. A third is that readers using both sources will have a clear rebuttal of his views, rather than being left with "he said/she said".
I am dead set against false balance, but restoring proper balance does not mean not discussing the opinions of the deniers. Rather it means changing the way you discuss it. The fact is that if Monckton's character (as the obvious example) became known to the general public, his participation as a denier would inoculate most of the public. Consequently, what we should want is not a media that doesn't mentions deniers, but rather one that mentions them as Wendy Carlisle did Monckton on Background Briefing:
The ABC's reporting of Watson's paper is sufficiently equivocal that it may have been better not to mention Brady. But it would have been better still to mention him and draw out his fossil fuel links, and the fact that he is unpublished since 1983.
Tim: a small correction (I don't think anyone else picked this up) - in your article you say "The deacceleration only appeared when you calculated a quadratic trend over the whole century" - in fact, the plot shows that Watson only estimated the trend from 1920. This is crucial, as was shown by Rahmstorf in the realclimate article which you reference - if you start the analysis earlier than this, the overall fit turns into an acceleration. This has been well known for global sea-level rise since Church and White did their sea-level reconstruction in 2006 (Church, J. A. and N.J. White, 2006. A 20th century acceleration in global sea level rise, Geophysical Research Letters, 33, L01602, doi:10.1029/2005GL024826.) Global sea level since 1870 looks very much like two linear trends, which (from Church and White) are 0.71 and 1.84 mm/yr over the periods 1870â1935 and 1936â2001, respectively. So, if you fit a single quadratic, the further you go back prior to 1935 for your "start" time, the higher the resultant acceleration.
Also, being picky, "deacceleration" should read "decceleration".
Tom @22,by all means give access to other voices if they have a stake in the research,or the specific field of study....but Brady has been plucked from nowhere,nowhere at all,to interject in a contrived 'discussion'. There is NO good reason to mention Brady at all.
The only interesting thing about Brady is how and why Rintoul dug him up.Or was Brady put forward at the editorial stage?
> Also, being picky, "deacceleration" should read "decceleration".
Being even pickier, "decceleration" should read "deceleration" (according to oxforddictionaries.com and dictionary.com)...or possibly "deacceleration" (dictionary.com but not oxforddictionaries.com)
Neither one has "decceleration", although it might be possible to find one that does.
Thanks Lotharsson. I usually use "Google counts" as my spell checker - so "decceleration" gives 92,000 results, while deceleration gives 5,230,000 results - which is, I think, pretty conclusive evidence that you are right - at least to most sane even-minded individuals.
.... But we could have a "debate" and I could play the contrarian game of cherry-picking successively unlikely sources - while I could come back with 92,000 examples to support my case, you'd still have another 5,138,000 examples up your sleeve after I was done. You'd win in the end, but I'd have succeeded in my aim of wasting a considerable amount of your time.
So congratulations to the Oz for wasting so many scientists' time over this particularly nasty piece of media distortion!
Just wait until someone makes a list of ONE THOUSAND PEER REVIEWED PAPERS in which it is spelled decceleration. Then we'll see who's laughing!
Why a quadratic?
@Bob: LoL. Dix Points.
A more complete way of asking Alan's question is: "what is the mechanism that they consider is taking place that makes a quadratic the right shape to measure?"
For CO2/Temperature correlation, the graph is ln(CO2)/T because the physics implies the relationship should be that form. If the physics said that it should be linear, then you'd try to match CO2/T (and with the current temperature/CO2 measurement trends that theory would FAIL and be rejected).
So why quadratic? What mechanism responds quadratically when relating sea level rise to time?
On mediawatch, Jonathan Holmes hypothesized that News Corporation was only holding newspapers because of Rupert's personal interest in them because they don't make much money and when he eventually leaves they will just want to sell them off. I expect that in the case of The Australian, the best they will be able to do is to give it away.
Chris @32 ,the idea that Murdoch owns papers that don't make money is a bit innocent. The function of the Australian for instance is to advance Murdoch's political views ,and which are basically a major defence against the left trying to democratise the media.The aim of Murdoch is the expansion of the Murdoch empire and politicians need to be bought in order to achieve this. The wheels on this Murdoch strategy are now falling off.
noticed in the Watson paper "personal communication Houston"
Houston and Dean JCR, Alarm Bells..... wonder who the reviewers for the Watson paper were, Tamino not impressed ..
National press Club on a role, two deniers in a week with Vaclav Klaus getting a solo run today. He is a bit like Santa, bad Santa that is.
Those looking for more on the Murdochracy's Hacking scandal while everyone's attention is drawn by extremist lunatics may enjoy this interview.
A little OT maybe but still on media spin, or in this case, total lack of honesty:
brought to my attention by a Plimer loving ex-pat'.
**Update 3**: Crikey [reports](http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/07/27/csiro-says-sea-level-claims-from-oz…):
>Angry that Deltoid and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage had accused him of misrepresenting the report, journalist Stuart Rintoul told Crikey that people had "read an incorrect caption on an online version of the story ... that's what they're complaining about and that's not in the article ... that's it, it's very straightforward". Furthermore, "I've had several conversations with Phil Watson, he's got no complaint with anything that's in the body of the article."
Rintoul's article also misrepresented Watson's paper by saying that it showed that sea level would only rise 15cm by 2100
>"So the idea that I've misinterpreted this research is entirely wrong, entirely wrong ... I'm seeing this online headline saying 'Stuart Rintoul misinterprets a scientific paper', and it's ...outrageous."
Yes, Rintoul's misrepresentation was outrageous.
>"As to Howard Brady, he made contact with us, he has published Antarctic research articles in the Antarctic Journal of the United States, Nature, Science, and the English Journal of Geology and Geophysics, and his criticisms of CSIRO modelling were judged newsworthy."
Brady's publications were on Antarctic sediments not climate, let alone sea level. And his last ublication was in 1983.
>"The differences between CSIRO modelling and tide gauges is the subject of continuing reportage."
Though no reporting in *The Australian* of what the CSIRO says on this matter.
**Update 4** I asked Watson about Rintoul's claim that Watson agreed with the Rintoul's interpretation of his paper. I got this reply:
>Mr Watson believes he was quite specific with Stuart Rintoul that his paper presented an analysis of measured historic data but that it was not appropriate to extrapolate future sea level rises on the basis of this analysis.
Good grief is there anyone left at the Oz, or Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt etc ad nauseam, who doesn't believe they know more about everything than the scientists they're actually incapable of understanding?!
"Brady...made contact with us..." Oh,sure.
Financial Times reports that Murdoch subsidiary under investigation for hacking into computer systems of competitor.
Murdoch's "hackers" may be responsible for 'climategate'!
A Murdoch subsidiary in the US is now facing criminal charges for hacking into the computer systems of a competitor to obtain financial information used to outbid the competitor in a contract to place in-store advertising.
Oops, initially posted on the wrong AWoS thread. Trying again...
[Mediawatch](http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/) has just smacked the Australian around for its reporting of the Watson paper. The online version, with lots of supplementary material, should appear soon under the heading "Episode 24, 25 July 2011".
further to Bernard - specifically Media Watch's Ask the experts
Jonathan Holmes gave this a run on Media Watch last night - he must visit here.
My favourite moment - the look on Jonathan Holmes' face as he says
The 'corrupt' CSIRO, says Alan Jones
For those looking [here is a link](http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3282940.htm) to the Media Watch segment on this the latest of Oz's attack on science.
[John Hunter's responses to Mediawatch's questions](http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/1125_hunter.pdf) are particularly noteworthy, because they give a good overview about the misuse of Watson's paper, and about the statistical limitations of the paper itself. Tamino's look at the matter gets a specific mention, which is useful to have on the record.
Several other of the experts were perhaps a little generous about Watson's use of a quadratic, which startles me, but the bottom line is that no matter how one slices and dices, to come up with the interpretation favoured by Rintoul, Brady, Alan Jone, et al, one needs to ignore fact and dive deep into ideological fantasy and misrepresentation.
That professional media does this should be actionable, in my opinion, but then apparently news in Australia doesn't have to be "true"...
I apologise, it was me, I e-mailed MW last week (26/07/2011) mentioning they might care to give this a spin and see if it had legs ...
"46 Jonathan Holmes gave this a run on Media Watch last night - he must visit here.
Posted by: David Irving (no relation) | August 1, 2011 8:08 PM"
>I apologise, it was me, I e-mailed MW last week (26/07/2011) mentioning they might care to give this a spin and see if it had legs ...
I suspect that MediaWatch was on to the story well before 26 July.
The 26th was a Friday, and the Australian piece and Tim's both came out on Monday 22 July. The first response received by MediaWatch was Lesley Hughes' which was [apparently sent on 27 July 2011 3:03 PM](http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/1125_hughes.pdf), although MediaWatch itself says 28 July, and the 27 was a Saturday and not a Wednesday as the pdf indicates. But Hughs' reply aside, [John Hunter's very clear and informative response](http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/1125_hunter.pdf) was sent on Sunday 28 July, which means that the latest that Mediawatch sent their questions was Friday 26 July.
Groups like MediaWatch would be very unlikely to receive an email on one day, read it, research it, and send out questions to various experts all on the same day. Especially when that day is the last day of a business week - by then they are flooded with a week's worth of emails, and are probably finishing up for the next broadcast on the following Monday.
No, I suspect that MediaWatch caught the front page story the day that it came out, and quite probably read Tim's thread themselves the same day. They'd know by now that Deltoid is the best source to turn to for the Australian's War on Science, so they'd have geared up a day or so after Rintoul's nonsense was printed.
Please don't take this comment the wrong way and not to decry your masterful deconstruction of the timeline, but just which calendar are you using?
22/072011 was a Friday, 26/07/2011 was a Tuesday, the 27th Wednesday, the 28th was Thursday ....
Posted by: Bernard J. | August 3, 2011 4:13 AM
"The 26th was a Friday, and the Australian piece and Tim's both came out on Monday 22 July. The first response received by MediaWatch was Lesley Hughes' which was apparently sent on 27 July 2011 3:03 PM, although MediaWatch itself says 28 July, and the 27 was a Saturday and not a Wednesday as the pdf indicates. But Hughs' reply aside, John Hunter's very clear and informative response was sent on Sunday 28 July, which means that the latest that Mediawatch sent their questions was Friday 26 July."
Yes, I realised at work this afternoon that I'd used an old source to pick the days for my previous post.
However, it doesn't change the substance of the date timelines - I seriously doubt that MediaWatch started their investigation of the Rintoul idiocy on the 26th after reading your email - they just don't scamble that quickly.
And nor should they: their job in this instance is to correct the reporting of the science that the Australian so consistently bastardises, and in so doing MediaWatch will take the time to track down the most valid interpretations - the interpretations that Rintoul and his colleagues have no desire to relate to their readership.
It would be incredible (and very rushed) for them to receive and read your email on the 26th, then find and read Rintoul's crap, and then decide to follow the story, and to ask around to find the most qualified and experienced experts to from whom to seek appropriate interpretation, and send off emails - all on the same day - and have Hughs respond the next day.
Of course, if it really matters that they did the story in response to your email, I guess we could always ask them if it was the impetus...
I've been sending them emails about The Australian, lately too.
They send back nice thank-you emails.
And #55 looks like spam.