Friday 26 January 2018
This is a post that attests to the character of Rupert Murdoch. He has recently been knocked back, in the public interest, in his attempt to purchase the remaining 65% of Sky News he doesn’t own.
I really don’t know that I am qualified to write this. I know little of science. In fact, I often laughingly joke that I have enough trouble with our pop up toaster. Therefore, it goes that I cannot explain how many things function or occur. I simply know that science through reasoned, rational enquiry, evaluation, observation and testing proves that they do.
What I am, however, is an artist, an observer, and given that observation is the basis for all science I feel entitled to a view. For me the ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation. Science has made in my lifetime the most staggering achievements and they are embraced, recognised and enjoyed by all sections of society.
I believe that a commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, is the best way of providing solutions to human problems. Science is being denigrated in three interconnected areas. Firstly, in the area of climate change. Secondly in religious belief. Interrelated because of an obscure Biblical text that suggests that we should inherit the earth and take dominion over it. And thirdly of course, the ongoing misleading media led by Rupert Murdoch.
But essentially science is under attack worldwide and surprisingly not from uneducated countries but from the best educated, those with the most advanced technologies the world has known. For the life of me, I cannot understand people who accept science as fact and use it every day somehow become brain-dead when it comes to climate science.
In the United States science is being stigmatised by the Republican president, Donald Bush. The Tea Party, the Murdoch Media Empire and Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians. Republicans because, in the case of Global Warming it interferes with their capitalist aspirations, profit, and ideological pursuits.
And a recent study from “The journal, Public Understanding of Science” found that conservative media like Murdoch owned, diabolically dishonest Fox News undermined viewers trust in scientists, leading to weaker beliefs in the science of global warming.
Neo-conservatives commonly believe that the science of climate change is a left-wing conspiracy to replace communism. Strangely, this conspiratorial movement has no leader, no headquarters and no organised membership.
Fundamentalist Christians oppose science on the basis that the Bible is to be taken literally, meaning that the world was created in seven days. Everything within the book is God’s word and cannot be questioned. God created this earth and it’s our right to do what we like with it. Seventy per cent of Americans believe this.
All this of course is supported by a pathetic power-hungry discredited man, of no redeeming features who’s only attribute as a human being is the pursuit, and creation of wealth. His name is Rupert Murdoch. He is one of the world’s best known faces. He is known not for grace, benevolence, charity or compassion but for greed, power and superiority.
He is known for the UK phone scandals. In Australia he is known for his love of all things conservative. Murdoch-owned papers, which control about 70 per cent of the Australian market, have run covers featuring former PM Kevin Rudd as a Nazi, as Col. Klink from Hogan’s Heroes and as Mr Rude from the Mr Men kids’ books. News Corp’s Daily Telegraph in Sydney has dropped all pretence of impartiality.
Ask yourself why 95 per cent of the world’s climate scientists would want to lie about the subject. Granted, science can be wrong and has been, but it has a record of self-correction and this science is peer tested annually and universally accepted by the enlightened collective.
In Australia, science is under attack from Conservative Governments intent on degrading it to the point where it has little influence in cabinet. Australia has had from 1931 a Science Minister. When Abbott came to power he decided he didn’t need one.
Although the Ministry was reinstated by Malcolm Turnbull then abolished again a lack of funding has seen many scientists lose their jobs from the CSIRO.
It has abolished the Climate Commission responsible for the dissection of information and wants to eliminate the Climate Change Authority responsible for investment in renewable energy.
In 2016 visiting scientist David Suzuki’s reaction to the federal government’s scrapping of key climate institutions can be summed up: “what the hell?”
The move angered Professor Suzuki who was in Sydney, in 2017, to talk about marine pollution along Australia’s east coast. He said:
“What the hell kind of government is it that comes into office and the first symbolic act is to shut down a source of information?”
”The minute you shut down solid scientific information then you can run it on your ideology.”
“You can run it on the Bible, you can run it on the Koran.”
He also defended the former Labor government’s move to put a price on carbon as a very important step:
“Why do we not object to paying for putting garbage into landfill, but we shout like mad when we put a price on putting carbon into the atmosphere?”
The Government’s views on science can be traced back to Tony Abbott.
I tuned onto the ABC’s “7.30 Report” the night Kerry O’Brien interviewed him about the coalition’s “Broadband Policy”. During the interview, Abbott who was totally out of his depth appealed to O’Brien not to ask questions of a technological nature because “I simply do not understand it.”
As a voter, I was appalled that anyone with ambitions to become Prime Minister should know so little about his own policy and of course,the technology.
What occurred to me on reflection was that if Abbott knew so little about the science of the internet, how could he have developed such a sophisticated insightful knowledge of climate science as to be able to dismiss it as crap?
Those who deny the overwhelming scientific consensus seek to justify their belief by attaching themselves to a minority of science sceptics with obscure qualifications, or worse, to right-wing shock jocks and journalists with no scientific training what so ever. These people (like you and me) have no way of evaluating the volume of data produced by the various scientific institutions.
For years I had given the conservative parties the benefit of the doubt on Climate Change. That enough of them actually believed the science.
Today I am convinced that the deniers in the Coalition have won the debate. They have been influenced by the likes of Nick Minchin (a former politician), Lord Monckton (a discredited nutter who was once a lobbyist for tobacco companies), Andrew Bolt (a journalist), Cardinal George Pell (an old school literalist religious priest), Prof Ian Plimer (a geologist), Alan Jones (non-description), and of course Murdoch. None of whom has a degree in climate science.
They have opinions, that’s all, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but they have no expertise. Now that’s not to say that they should not have a view and that that view should not be considered as should any laypersons if they are of that ilk. But surely, we must respect the science otherwise; you put into question all science.
Science of course is not very good at defending itself. Naively it doesn’t see why it should. After all they talk about facts being facts. Why should they have to defend them? But someone has to.
“Generally people assume that a theory (for example the theory of evolution) is something unproven. In the scientific world, a theory is something that has evolved to fit known facts.”
”We should never assume that an answer is revealed and then we seek evidence to support it. It is in fact the reverse.”
I am thus convinced that it is the intention of The Coalition to put off doing anything really worthwhile about carbon emissions until it is forced to do so by capitalism’s endless march towards profit.
In spite of what he says or believes Malcolm Turnbull is locked into Abbott’s policies. Every time he opens his mouth on the subject he tries to have a bet each way. It has become increasingly obvious that he has betrayed his own beliefs.
My view is that he will fudge at the edges of the Direct Action Plan as he is now doing and will accomplish nothing. But at great cost to the community. And it will be it’s a tax in sheep’s clothing. Regardless of recent events we can comfortably say that Australia doesn’t have an Energy Policy.
As an illustration of Murdoch’s power to persuade, consider this:
Media Watch of 9 September 2013 gave us a snapshot of what Rupert Murdoch did for Tony Abbott. We can assume that it was repeated in Turnbull’s case.
It said; “The final tally of (the Daily Telegraph’s) coverage in the election campaign stacks up like this. Out of a total of 293 political stories we scored only six as pro Labor. While 43 were pro coalition. On the negative side there were just five articles that we judged to be anti-coalition. While a remarkable 134 were anti Labor.” That summary takes no account of the front page splashes that ridiculed Labor day after day. Or the coverage by Murdoch’s other papers outside Sydney.
In the media generally speaking, balancing a proposition (the amount of space you give it) is attributable to the volume of evidence each side of the debate brings to the table.
When 95% of climate scientists say we have a problem one would expect that their argument would deserve the greater exposure. To do otherwise is to display a bias for whatever reason.
In his quarterly essay “Bad News,” Robert Manne analysed climate change articles printed by The Australian newspaper between January 2004 and April 2011 and found that 700 articles were ‘unfavourable” to action on climate change. Balanced against these 700 articles, there were 180 stories and columns ‘favourable’ to action on climate change.
That is, they either disagreed with the consensus of climate science, didn’t support Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto protocol, or didn’t support previous governments’ steps towards a carbon trading scheme.
Murdoch is responsible for this and it continues today. The Australian some time back had to write a correction and then a retraction on misrepresenting the latest IPCC report where the paper deliberately and falsely reported the data and findings. The Australian in their retraction stated the errors was due to errors in their production process.
Then of course we had Andrew Bolt. That champion of all things contentious. A Murdoch man through and through. Global warming is his speciality and he has been writing rubbish about it for years. In spite of the fact that on a few occasions his dishonesty has been revealed he still commands an enormous Murdoch audience.
Shock-jock Alan Jones also has been made to retract lies on this subject and when he has done so increases his audience.
Brainwashing is indeed their forte.
And so we have a landslide of anti-science propaganda from all around the world. From religion, from the media, big business. Self interest groups, the mining industry and neo conservatives of the lunatic fringe of right-wing politics.
“Why is it so?” Prof Julius Sumner Miller once asked.
Murdoch is the supreme commander of the troops. It would be naïve to think that Murdoch isn’t expecting something in return for his support. It may not be spelt out but it will always be implied.
We don’t need science to be hijacked by the likes of this boorish primordial example of capitalistic gluttony.
My thought for the day
“The ideas of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow.”