Britain’s government channel 4 was recently taken to the tribunal, Ofcom for broadcasting the documentary “ The global warming swindle” after it received complaints about (among other things) its “scientific veracity”. There were apparently hundreds of complaints including a bunch of academics forming a sort of “class action” posse (lodging their objection to Swindle being televised) making the whole thing sound like the usual AGW whine fest.
I saw the Doco on the web before the ABC broadcast it here in Australia and to be perfectly honest I was a little underwhelmed as it basically presented the same old skeptical arguments we’ve heard before 1,000 times over with the same old faces.
The tribunal found for Channel 4 in the material parts of the Doco but also found they breached the code on a few technicalities. Several bloggers on both sides of the warming debate are writhing rhapsodically about the result treating it some sort of win. One is outright disembling
However this isn’t the point of the thread. Neither is this an attempt to lead an argument about AGW nor whether the Doco was right/ wrong good or bad. This complaint fest shows exactly why libertarians are rightly 110% against the idea the state should have its grubby (but well intentioned) hands on any form of broadcasting (in fact the idea is repulsive and fraught danger).
It’s even worse in the UK than it is here as they actually have inspectors skulking about residential areas trying to catch people who own a TV not paying the requisite fee. Great GDP enhancing job hey? ☺
I would to posit a hypothetical:
Two Australian researchers, J. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall, are the 2005 winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work in discovering the role of ulcer bacteria in producing digestive ulcers. They were announced Monday morning in Stockholm, Sweden.
……………Before their discovery, peptic ulcer was attributed to stress and lifestyle.
More than 20 years ago Dr. Robin Warren found a link between bacteria and patients with certain types of ulcers and gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach. It was the first time such a connection had been made.
The prevailing view at the time was that ulcers were caused by stress and lifestyle or were related to aspirin and anti-arthritis drugs. Dr. Warren’s findings were dismissed and – at times – ridiculed.
Most medical professionals believed that bacteria could not survive, let alone cause disease, in the acidic conditions of the stomach.
Would it have been possible for Channel 4 to have been brought before the tribunal if it had televised a program suggesting that a number of ulcers of bacterial origin were treatable with antibiotics seeing it ran against prevailing medical wisdom?
I say yes.
This is a good example where state intervention in broadcasting can actually have the effect of potentially stifling free speech. People are now using “truth” tribunals to shut down debate.
As I said, I’m not casting any judgment on Swindle. This is a great example where public broadcasting is leading us: scientific truth tribunals, which is really back to the future like when Galileo was brought before the Inquisition to defend his scientific theories.