Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mark Scott (and underling) in diversity denial

The publicly funded  academic blog The Conversation (or as we know it "The Con") recently published an article that revealed some interesting statistics about the voting intentions of ABC reporters.

The voting intentions of 34 ABC reporters turned out as follows:
41.2% of the 34 ABC journalists who declared a voting intention said they would vote for the Greens, followed by 32.4% for Labor and 14.7% for the Coalition.

There were questions asked of the authors about the statistical significance of the results given the low number of respondents.  In regard to the study the authors state:
If we disregard the 42.8% of journalists who are undecided, refused to answer or would vote for a party or candidate other than the major three, this is a statistically significant result.
So the authors claim a statistically significant result and have their work published in a peer reviewed journal.
We asked Mark Scott to explain his organisations diversity problem that appears to break the back of ABC's charter, here's his response, through one of his underlings:

Dear Mr Hendrickx,

The Managing Director’s office has asked me to acknowledge receipt of your email.

As the passage you have quoted acknowledges, the survey referred to in that article included the voting intentions of only 34 members of the ABC’s staff.  The ABC’s most recent annual report gives a staff head count of 5,429 people. 

The survey results do not support your contention that the ABC’s employees ‘are demonstrably dominated by one cultural group’.

Yours sincerely,

Kirstin McLiesh
Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs

Seems Mr Scott is in denial of this "statistically significant result"! Does that constitute a clear case of confirmation bias? We think so, here's our quick reply:

Hi Kirsten,
Odd that Mr Scott should deny statistically significant results published in a peer reviewed paper, or was that your opinion? Perhaps some remedial statistics classes are in order.


Monday, May 27, 2013

ABC in the News Round Up 1

Introducing a new weekly (well occasional probably more like it) round up of critiques of ABC's news service from across the web (catchy graphics to follow). Perhaps one day it will look like THIS.

Part 1: Nepotism of the week.
Our Nepotism of the week award goes to Russell Skelton who is the inaugural head of the ABC Fact Check Unit and married to ABC Breakfast's Virginia Trioli. Good to see that the Groupthink is not being spread outside that inner city circle. More at Media Watch Dog (No.183) and Andrew Bolt's blog.

Part 2: Environmental beat ups for the week.
Oh the Irony! According to an opinion piece on ABC's environment blog, run at your expense by activist Sarah Phillips: IRONY DOESN'T GET ANY better than this. Environmentalists and farmers fighting the expansion of coal mining and coal seam gas across Australia are protecting the economy. Apparently People protesting CSG may help soften the landing when the carbon bubble bursts.  ABC currently costs us over $1,000,000,000.00 per annum and a large chunk of that is contributed indirectly by taxes from coal companies (who like many of us would probably prefer it go somewhere useful).  The irony does get better, for without those billions in coal taxes the government would have less funds to land softly in those gold plated Ultimo toilets.

Rising Seas
In other news ABC reports that Keen photographers urged to snap tidal changesGreen Cross Australia said people in coastal areas of South Australia had been urged to snap and submit photos of the latest king tides. Here's my submission taken at Port Pirie:
Part 3. Fact checker.
Tim Blair receives some interesting advice regarding the M word.
Gerard Henderson (Media Watch Dog No.183) finds some drammatic license has been applied to the facts in Paul Clarke’s documentary Whitlam: The Power and the Passion on Gough Whitlam which commenced on ABC 1 on Sunday.

Part 4: Spot the conservative presenter.
1. Amanda Vanstone on Counterpoint

Part 5: Sucker of the week. An occasional award for one of Aunties gullible reporters. This week awarded to: Simon Cullen for this piece: PM's office says Julia Gillard plans to serve full term if re-elected at federal election. I think I burst a blood vessel.
Simon Cullen, winner of this week's "Gullibull".

until next time...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Privatised ABC: YES or NO

Two opinions in the Oz today.

Case for YES
Case for NO

Funny that the national broadcaster is unable to offer such balance!

Our own opinion sides with the YES case. There is little justification for retaining the current system. A portion of the billion dollars (plus) currently spent on public broadcasting (ABC and SBS) could be re-directed to private production houses and publishers to produce a diverse array of Australian media content that would be able to better meet the ABCs charter. This could be broadcast on free to air radio and TV stations, or via the internet. ABC's current excellent educational programming could be broadcast on digital by any number of media organisations, with the government subsidising the cost to allow for ad free transmissions, or the costs might be borne on a subscription basis.

A large portion of ABC's programming is middle class welfare.
A large portion of ABC's programming has a niche audience (take any number of Radio National's offerings for example). Why should the tax payer be subsiding the interests of such a small group at the expense of others in the community with different interests. It's long overdue that this small group put their money where their hearts are and contributed to what they are interested in rather than rely on the tax payer to do it for them.

Lateline takedown

I enjoyed this post by Jo Nova on Lateline'climate scare piece during the week. What do expect from journos who appear to have got their degrees from a box of Weeties!

Tony Jones lets Bill McKibben get away with barking nonsense “Really one degree is utter catastrophe”

Thursday, May 23, 2013

80 year old conquers Everest! But hang on what happened to climate change making it unclimbable?

Today ABC Report
"Yuichiro Miura, 80, becomes oldest to scale Mount Everest"
An 80-year-old Japanese climber who has had four heart surgeries has become the oldest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

But last year ABC reported: 'Super Sherpa' says climate change may make Everest unclimbable
Climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb, some of the world's top mountaineers have warned.

Sometimes you just have to laugh. Where's that fact checker?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Missing News: That climate sensitivity thing again

ABC take any and every chance to jump on news that supports an alarmist take global warming, however when the news fits a different picture, only crickets to be heard in those drab Ultimo corridors.

Heat going out of global temperature rises

GLOBAL temperature increases as a result of increased carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere are likely to be lower than previously thought, an international research team has found.
The Oxford University-led study found that a predicted doubling of CO2 concentrations, expected to occur later this century, is likely to raise global temperatures in the short term by between 1.3C and 2C.

Update: ABC play catch up but fail to see the internal contradictions in their reporting. On the one the headline reads...New reports suggests global warming could be slower than first thought yet somehow this supports the notion that the "Longer-term warming trend will not change". Seems a few reporters forgot to pack their brains before heading off to Palais Ultimo this morning!
As for natural cycles being responsible, this has been the case of sceptical scientists for sometime, but you wouldn't have read about it on the ABC, because it doesn't fit their alarmist message.

Shock: ABC's extreme left wing bias confirmed

An article on the Tax payer funded The Conversation has some interesting statistics on the voting intentions of ABC activists journalists. Based on the latest Newspoll figures current community voting intentions are as follows for primary votes:
ALP: 31%
Coalition: 46%
Greens: 9%

The upside down figures for the ABC:
"41.2% of the 34 ABC journalists who declared a voting intention said they would vote for the Greens, followed by 32.4% for Labor and 14.7% for the Coalition."
Is it any surprise that ABC leans left of the left? One wonders whether the 14.7% are real or fudged, especially as ABC does not employ a single conservative to lead any of its prominent current affairs programs.

That clause from ABC's charter (our bold):
The functions of the Corporation provide:
(i) broadcasting programs that contribute to a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of, the Australian community;

Mark Scott, how can your organisation reflect the cultural diversity of, the Australian community when its employees are demonstrably dominated by one cultural group?

Friday, May 17, 2013

ABC cross the 400ppm barrier..well sort of.

ABC's environmental activists were quick to report on levels of atmospheric CO2 from Mauna Loa that are approaching 400ppm. Based on a NOAA press release ABC claimed Carbon pollution hits highest point in 3 million years.

 "atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 400 parts per million for the first time in over three million years".

However after ABC's activist reporters jumped the gun with some rushed opinion pieces, NOAA adjusted the figure slightly downwards resulting in this update being posted, after we pointed it out (it seems ABC's fact checkers asleep at the wheel)...

"Since this article was published, NOAA revised the reading of the CO2 levels at Mauna Loa down to 399.89ppm, not 400ppm. The milestone has not therefore yet been reached, however the CO2 levels remain higher than at any time in the past three million years and continue to trend upwards."
ABC have not offered any further corrections (See below-only took a week). See how the LA times covered the correction here:  Carbon dioxide in atmosphere did not break 400 ppm at Hawaii site

SO with the northern hemisphere spring bringing plant growth that will soak up some of that CO2, we may need to wait until next year to see that magical figure of 400ppm daily average atm CO2  passed.  Mind you, with the climate's sensitivity to CO2 being lower than IPCC projections it seems in the long term that this will pass as a Y2K moment, rather than the climate Armageddon being actively promoted by the ABC. But of course those missing stories don't fit the ABC play book.

Update May 23
Hello Mr Hendrickx
Thanks for writing about this item on AM.
The story you refer to is a transcript of the program as broadcast on 11 May at 8am AEST.

While our original broadcast item did not make specific reference to a date on which the 400 PPM figure had been recorded, it was based on information from the NOAA that this had happened on 9 May, which at the time of our broadcast on 11 May we believe was still its advice.

As you point out, NOAA subsequently revised its reading for 9 May to below 400 PPM.

We are adding a note to the transcript of the program to reflect NOAA's revision of the 9 May reading, and to also note that the 400 PPM reading has at the time of this writing been recorded on a number of other days in May.

Shane McLeod
National Editor, Radio
ABC News

Missing News: Selection bias in climate models

Some missing climate news as auntie's climate activists go into hyper drive with the 400ppm average daily CO2 mark breached at Mauna Loa, well it was almost breached!

Kyle L. Swanson
Climate change simulations are the output of enormously complicated models containing resolved and parameterized physical processes ranging in scale from microns to the size of the Earth itself. Given this complexity, the application of subjective criteria in model development is inevitable. Here we show one danger of the use of such criteria in the construction of these simulations, namely the apparent emergence of a selection bias between generations of these simulations. Earlier generation ensembles of model simulations are shown to possess sufficient diversity to capture recent observed shifts in both the mean surface air temperature as well as the frequency of extreme monthly mean temperature events due to climate warming. However, current generation ensembles of model simulations are statistically inconsistent with these observed shifts, despite a marked reduction in the spread among ensemble members that by itself suggests convergence towards some common solution. This convergence indicates the possibility of a selection bias based upon warming rate. It is hypothesized that this bias is driven by the desire to more accurately capture the observed recent acceleration of warming in the Arctic and corresponding decline in Arctic sea ice. However, this convergence is difficult to justify given the significant and widening discrepancy between the modeled and observed warming rates outside of the Arctic.