27 October 2013 (2:29pm) was an auspicious moment for commentator, media tart and Murdoch minion Andrew Bolt. It was the moment in his professional life where he finally cast-off any lingering doubt as to his status as an intellectually dishonest dunderhead.
In an entry to his Herald Sun blog, he attempted to simultaneously defend Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s use of Wikipedia as an information source on Climate Change, and take a swipe at Professor Will Steffen, a climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University, Canberra. Bolt begins:
When Environment Minister Greg Hunt mentioned he’d checked Wikipedia ”just to see what the rest of the world thought” about our bushfires, green activists pounced and pretended Hunt himself used Wikipedia for research on global warming.
It’s passing interesting that Bolt linked to a Fairfax article to make his point. I guess no one in the ranks of News Limited bothered to cover the story. His assertion that ‘green activists’ ‘pretended’ that Hunt had used Wikipedia for research purposes deserves some attention. From the very SMH article Bolt cites:
“I looked up what Wikipedia said just to see what the rest of the world thought,” he advised the BBC on Wednesday when put on the spot about whether there might be a link between Australia’s latest bushfires and climate change. “It opened up with the fact that, ‘bushfires in Australia are frequently occurring events during the hotter months of the year due to Australia’s mostly hot, dry, climate’.” [emphasis added]
So, there was no pretence involved. He clearly did what the horrible ‘green activists’ said he did and declared the fact to an international news service. He quoted the Wiki article to make a point about Climate Change.
Thus far Bolt has misrepresented what Hunt said and did and how certain commentators reacted to it. Bolt then continues to play fast and loose with the truth and to try and tug at our heartstrings:
One of those grabbing the chance to monster Hunt was Professor Will, of Tim Flannery’s Climate Council. Now watch the video.
Apparently being critical of a Federal Minister is to “monster” him. Poor Munchkin. No one on Hunt’s side of politics would ever ‘monster’ anyone! Coming from Bolt, a claim of someone “monstering” anyone is really odd. Note, also, Bolt’s deft attempt to make light of Professor Steffen’s credentials by referring to him only as ‘of Tim Flannery’s Climate Council.’ He doesn’t bother to mention that Prof. Steffen is Executive Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute, or offer any other of his many credentials in the field of Climate Change research. He’s merely an associate of the bloke that the Government sacked. Nice one Andrew.
That brings us to the video we’re supposed to watch which, if I’m interpreting the article’s intention correctly, makes Prof. Steffen look like a right royal hypocrite. Your can see the video in the blog itself. Or, just in case the blog is taken down at some point, you can also see it at Youtube. It’s worth nothing that the Youtube video Bolt uses in the blog is posted on a channel called ”ywiabychi” which is basically a dedicated anti-Labor, anti-Climate Change channel. On the basis of the content of the video, which involves a lecture given by Prof. Steffen in which he mentions using Google for doing research and later suggests there’s a role for artists of various kinds with respect to communicating the message about Climate Change to the broader community, Bolt says:
In 2007, Steffen tells his class he Googles for his research and invites artists to inform us about environmental issues.
In 2013 he damns Wikipedia and tells us to listen only to the true experts – meaning people just like him. Google guy.
The first thing that has to be pointed out, which you’d expect a modern media commentator, even a pseudo-journalist like Andrew Bolt to understand, is that Google is primarily (at least historically) an Internet Search Engine with which one can gain access to most of the content of the Internet, including formal scientific and academic material. Wikipedia is a free-content encyclopaedia project that anyone, including Andrew Bolt, can contribute to and edit. As useful as Wiki is for mundane information and browsing, and as much as it can be a portal to more substantive information if an article contains proper citations and references, no one in academia or the media regards it as a meaningful, single source research point. It is utterly absurd to think a Federal Government Minister would use it as a meaningful resource and then say so to an international journalist.
Bolt’s attempted conflation of Google and Wikipedia is utterly ridiculous. Given that not even he could possibly be that idiotic, one if forced to conclude he’s being deliberately disingenuous. Either the readership of his blog is as stupid as he is, or he assumes they are. Bolt then smugly tells us that Prof. Steffen tries to conscript artists of various kinds to ‘inform us about environmental issues’. So what? It’s hardly anything new for artists and musicians to contribute to the process of getting the message of an issue to the general public who may be less engaged with the more ethereal and esoteric aspects of the science. Scientists are notoriously bad at doing this for themselves.
It’s interesting that Bolt decries the role of non-scientists in the communication of important scientific ideas, but sets himself up as an information portal for the Denial Camp, even though he possesses no technical expertise or credentials in the area of Climate Science.