Editorial Narratives in Science Journalism

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen


effect_smScience journalism is hard to get right. There is the constant struggle to clearly explain one’s topic without over-simplifying or misrepresenting by dumbing-down the details in hopes of communicating better and on the opposite side, explaining the topic in far too great an esoteric technical detail and far above the general understanding of one’s readers.  There have been very few really effective science journalists — and most of them have erred a bit to one side or other of the line between correct science and a “popular science” version of reality.

In the last century or so, there has developed a new problem in science communications and science journalism.  It is the Editorial Narrative — the overriding mandated “story” (an uber-story or story-line) set by the editor or editors of a newspaper, magazine, news outlet or scientific journal.

One might be tempted to think that in Science Journalism, this just means that the Editors are naturally biased towards the consensus view of various topics — biased towards the most commonly accepted scientific hypotheses or explanations.  And this is trivially true of almost all publications in science — they tend to steer a wide berth around what they view as crackpot hypotheses and what seem to them to be just-plain-nutty ideas.  Of course, there are some science news outlets that specialize in popularizing these sticky-edge ideas — and some of them are just fun to read — like the original early Popular Science Magazine which was, and still is,  a mix of serious reporting about new breakthroughs and  coverage of neat but very unlikely ideas [I am still waiting for delivery of my freezer-sized home atomic energy generator supplying unlimited-electricity].

But that is not what I mean here as “Editorial Narratives”.  I’ll make a first brush attempt a working definition:

Editorial Narrative:  A mandated set of guidelines for the overriding storyline for any news item concerning a specified topic, including required statements, conclusions and intentional slanting towards a particular preferred viewpoint. A statement from the Editors of “How this topic is to be presented.”

One ex-New York Times journalist wrote in November 2016:

It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse [of that at the LA Times]. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.

Reality usually had a way of intervening. But I knew one senior reporter who would play solitaire on his computer in the mornings, waiting for his editors to come through with marching orders. Once, in the Los Angeles bureau, I listened to a visiting National staff reporter tell a contact, more or less: “My editor needs someone to say such-and-such, could you say that?”

The bigger shock came on being told, at least twice, by Times editors who were describing the paper’s daily Page One meeting: “We set the agenda for the country in that room.”

What he is talking about is editorial mandates — rough outlines — of how journalists were to spin stories — about race, about police killings, about immigrants, about gender politics, about the new federal administration… well, about most everything.  The result in some cases is what at first appears as “bias” but it is more than that. [If you are unsure of what political bias looks like, see the front page of the NY Times or the Washington Post any day of the week.]

I would like to be able to say that this couldn’t possibly be true of the Science section — or could it?  Many readers here and others skeptical of the IPCC-version-consensus on Climate think that it could.

But surely, you ask — not in general, not in other science topics?   I’m afraid that it is true — the Science section, the Health Section, the Medical News section — all of these news desks have editors in charge of them and — at least reportedly at the NY Times —  they set pre-determined agendas — editorially mandated narratives — for science topics.

Here’s the latest example — intentionally selected because it is not about Climate Science:

“The New York Times has tapped Celia Dugger to oversee its health care coverage.

Dugger has been with the Times since 1991. She most recently served as science editor, a role she’ll continue to hold.

In a note to staffers, Times executive editor Dean Baquet and managing editor Joe Kahn laid out the details of Dugger’s role:

Health reporters from Business Day, National and Science will join together to form a team reporting to Celia. She will also work with reporters covering health issues and their editors in the Washington bureau, The Upshot and across the newsroom. She will be expanding her team in the coming months. Well will also report to Celia, but will remain a self-contained operation that has been a model for the kinds of coverage we want to encourage across the Times.”

Celia Dugger is the Science Editor of the NY Times, and, as of January 2017,  also will oversee “health care coverage” — all health reports, from several desks including Business Day, National, and Science, plus the special health section “Well” will report to Ms. Dugger.  She is one powerful editor with oversight for all of Science and Health reporting, even those in the Upshot section (Upshot combines innovative Graphics and narrative reporting styles to tell stories).

This September, she and her team of health journalists published As Global Obesity Rises, Teasing Apart Its Causes Grows Harder in which they declare:

Today’s article is the first in a series being produced by the paper’s health and science desk. The project examines how the processed food, soda and fast food industries’ increasing focus on markets in the developing world — and the accompanying rise in obesity rates and weight-related illnesses — is playing out around the globe.

The idea had long been on the mind of Celia Dugger, The Times’s health and science editor. For several years, she had been filing away news stories and journal articles that touched on what seemed to be a growing trend. “It just seemed stunning to me,” Ms. Dugger said. “It was a huge problem and a fascinating one to try and understand.” Her hunch was confirmed in June, when a new study showed that 10 percent of the world’s population now has a body mass index, or B.M.I., of 30 or higher, the threshold many public health experts say qualifies as obesity.

But it was clear that a story of this scale, driven largely by an economic and cultural transformation of the global food system, couldn’t be understood solely through a scientific lens.

Brazil was a good place to start. Companies there have been persuading local farmers to cultivate the soybeans and sugar cane that form the basis of much processed food. Conglomerates like Nestlé have aggressively marketed those products, and over the past decade the percentage of people with obesity has nearly doubled.

….taken as a whole these narratives are meant to illuminate what amounts to no less than a new global food order, and a new health crisis.

[emphasis mine – kh ]

Celia Dugger thus establishes an Editorial Narrative for the series, and for all health-related journalism at the NY Times, along the lines of;

“The processed food, soda and fast food industries’ increasing focus on markets in the developing world is causing the rise in obesity rates and weight-related illnesses.” 

This is not a rare opinion — it is one of the mainstay talking points of anti-corporatists of all stripes.  It just doesn’t happen to be supported by any Science — a point which even Dugger at the NY Times admits.    It is just an opinion and it is based on simplistic time-coincident correlation.

The NY Times series “Planet Fat” has the url that ends “series/obesity-epidemic” and is a series that is written entirely in the quasi-journalistic style called “narrative journalism” (an unfortunate coincidence of terms) — which is basically instead of the journalist reporting Who What When Where Why — the journalists tells the story of their often emotional investigation, reports conversations, and feelings and personal anecdotes and “is defined as creative non-fiction that contains accurate, well-researched information.”

Narrative Journalism, creative non-fiction, unfortunately lends itself quite readily to the blending of factual information with the desired spin of the mandated Editorial Narrative.

The NY Times’ Planet Fat series is a wonderful illustrative example of how an editorial mandated narrative — the over-story required by the editors of a news outlet — leads to what in today’s media parlance can rightfully called “fake news” — not because the individual facts are faked or not true, but because the news item taken as a whole presents a false representation of reality — because it has been written to support and repeat the Editor’s Narrative regardless of the full range of available facts.

The series has covered stories in India, Malaysia, Columbia, Senegal, Ghana, Mexico and Australia.  All of these countries (with the exception of Australia) are rapidly advancing countries in which there is a rising middle class able to now afford to eat what and as much as they chose.

The very same countries are still very high on the UN’s list of severely malnourished countries.  The most current UN data on India states “In India 44% of children under the age of 5 are underweight. 72% of infants and 52% of married women have anaemia. Research has conclusively shown that malnutrition during pregnancy causes the child to have increased risk of future diseases, physical retardation, and reduced cognitive abilities.“ but the Planet Fat article portrays their biggest problem as obesity.  In Malaysia,  UNICEF reports: “Overcoming childhood obesity and malnutrition in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, 7 April 2016 – Malaysia is one of several ASEAN countries facing simultaneous crises of over and under-nutrition, with some children overweight while their peers suffer from stunting and wasting.”  The Times’ report on Senegal blamed obesity there on the arrival of the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain, which only arrived six years ago, after relative affluence had begun increasing the weight of the middle classes, doubling obesity rates, since 1980 — while the World Food Program reports: “Senegal suffers from persistently high poverty rates, sitting at 46.7 percent. Overall, 17 percent of people are food insecure, and in some – mostly rural – parts of the country, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition is critical.”  From the Times’ editorial-narrative-influenced reports, the reader comes away thinking that these poor developing countries are overrun with fat, overfed people — while just the opposite is true — they are hotbeds of the under-nourished and poverty-stricken.

[Australia is a different case — maybe I’ll write about their weight problem at another time — but their problem is not sugar as implied by the Times.]

Here is the harm of Editorial Narratives, in graphic form:


Readers here will recognize the symptoms of Editorial Narratives in the biased reporting of Climate Science by nearly all MSM outlets — and most scientific journals.  Clearly the NY Times has a mandated Editorial Narrative for Climate Reporting — the link is it — which is also under Celia Dugger, by the way.

What about journals?  In 2001 we had the The Science of Climate Change: Joint Statement from Royal and National Academies from all over the world, written by all of 63 academics.  These academies control their journals and their editors — who control what gets published.  The American Physical Society issued a statement STATEMENT ON EARTH’S CHANGING CLIMATE (Adopted by Council on November 14, 2015) not as a scientific statement, but a statement of policy. The American Meteorological Society also issued An Information Statement of the American Meteorological Society (Adopted by AMS Council 20 August 2012).  [Notice that the APS and AMS  statements are “adopted by Council” not the membership at large — and thus become guiding principles for the editors of their journals — either as expressed or implied Editorial Narratives.)

When a story — a bit of news, a new journal paper — doesn’t fit the narrative required or desired by the Editors — then there is a problem.  If the news is truly Big News and Important — then the journalist has to do his/her best to report it and somehow slip in enough of his/her editor’s narrative to get it accepted and published.  We see this a lot in climate stories where the article goes along well enough, reporting some new findings, and then, out of nowhere, comes a line like “Of course, this new study does nothing to cast any doubt about the overwhelming evidence for human-induced climate change which is currently threatening the very existence of our planet.”

We saw this in the recently issued EPA finding on glyphosate (Monsanto’s Round-Up) which declared it not to be a human carcinogen.  The news was so far from most MSM’s Editorial Narratives on Monsanto, Round-Up and glyphosate that most MSM journalist simply passed and reported nothing at all!  They just couldn’t modify the reality to fit their Editor’s Narrative — some things can’t be spun that far.

My recent ongoing series on Modern Scientific Controversies exposed a good deal of this behavior in the US press — different news outlets ‘taking sides’ in the controversies — evidence of Editorial Narratives driving the reports.

I do not maintain that all newspapers, news agencies, magazines, journals — all MSM outlets — have expressed, written, Editorial Narratives on the topics of our time. Michael Cieply reported that the New York Times does and that the LA Times doesn’t.   However, I know from my own work experience that superiors can have strong opinions and expect their workers to reflect those opinions in their work.  I have not been a newspaper journalist, but I have been a radio news journalist — and Editors and News Directors have the responsibility to help plan coverage and to read and edit stories before publication or going on-air — and in this process, impose their viewpoint on what the story is and how it is to be told.

We see in the example of the NY Times’ Planet Fat series that the “story” was determined before the journalists were even sent out to find a story — they were sent out to specifically find a story matching the Editorial Narrative.  Facts contrary or counter to the narrative are played down or explained away in the series.  The series is a fascinating example of how Editorial Narratives play out in the real world, when the ink hits the paper [digital ink hits the display screen?].  If you have the time and inclination, or are interested in the Obesity Epidemic controversy, read the entire series, with the Editorial Narrative  as laid by Celia Dugger in the premier article (quoted early in this essay) firmly in mind.

In today’s media environment, a major factor in the application of your  Critical Thinking skills will be the awareness of the influence of Editorial Narratives on the news that arrives in your newspaper, on your TV, comes out of your radio or shows up in your In-box.  The concept itself promotes seeking out diversified sources of trusted information — even your trusted information sources can be subject to their own editorial narratives, even if they are manifested only in the choice of which articles, stories or essays appear.  Readers [viewers and listeners] should be aware that they are often seeing only one side of an issue, a result of their own choice of what outlet to read — here, at WUWT, you will not find essays promoting CAGW panic or alarm — that’s not what gets published here. I think that’s a good thing — but I am aware of it, not fooling myself with the idea that reading here keeps me fully informed on the topic.

I’d like to hear [read in comments] your personal views on this topic — and your experience with it.  It is a specific and oft-times hidden type of media bias — it is intentional and cannot [usually] be laid solely on the shoulders of the individual journalist — it is one of his/her burdens, a requirement of continued employment.

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Late Addition:  Just as I signed on to the web to upload this essay, this NY Times’ piece appeared on the National section (U.S.):  Even Sharks Are Freezing to Death: Winter Rages and the Nation ReelsAbout three-fourths of the way through the article giving anecdotes of people stuck in their homes due to excessive snow,  emergency rooms opening up to offer “warm-up rooms” for the homeless and frozen fire trucks,  we find this little paragraph just “stuck in”:

“While scientists routinely find themselves explaining that day-to-day weather patterns are not the same as long-term climate trends, they also widely agree that human-caused climate change is exacerbating extreme weather.”

Editorial Narrative?

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[Personal Aside: In the interest of disclosure, I will admit that I had to quit one job, in what can euphemistically be called “corporate intelligence”,  when my immediate superior informed me that her superiors insisted that I change the conclusions of an important investigative report I had written.  I couldn’t, I wouldn’t and I left several weeks later. There had been a “required narrative” in place that I hadn’t been aware of.  Five years later, my immediate superior searched me out, telephoned me, and said “You were right.” — nothing else, just that. ]

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Author’s Comment Policy:

If we have journalists reading here, I’d like to hear your personal experiences on the topic of Editorial Narratives and their equivalents in your field.  You can count on the anonymity of the Web to obscure your identity.

What do you think?  Share your views and opinions — Do news organizations have Editorial Narratives?  Do they enforce them?  Does it affect the news and views they publish or broadcast?  Have you noticed any obvious examples recently?

Remember, if you want me to respond specifically to a question or comment, address it to “Kip…” so I am sure to see it.

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December 30, 2017 6:10 am

There are a handful of “science” reporters that everyone else just copies, e.g. Justin Worland, Doyle Rice, Seth Boring-stein, et. al. etc.

old white guy
Reply to  nickreality65
December 30, 2017 7:29 am

there was a rather famous fellow who said that if you could not explain something simply then you do not understand it well enough.

Reply to  old white guy
December 30, 2017 7:52 am

Yes, but if you explain something simply then you don’t get to use all kinds of technobabble in order to demonstrate how smrt you are. Missed opportunity for status signalling.

Reply to  old white guy
December 30, 2017 8:21 am

“There is always an easy solution to every human problem–neat,
plausible, and wrong.”

H.L. Mencken

Reply to  old white guy
December 30, 2017 8:34 am

old white guy December 30, 2017 at 7:29 am
there was a rather famous fellow who said that if you could not explain something simply then you do not understand it well enough.

I’d imagine that quote was from before quantum physics.

December 30, 2017 6:19 am

Every Journalist needs to read the following article. The problem with the Journalists is that they have been given a confirming story so they don’t both to look into the other side. They were given the story they wanted and they run with it. Post the following article on every News Media and journalist facebook page and Twitter account you can find. Force them to understand the other side.

How to Discuss Global Warming with a “Climate Alarmist.” Scientific Talking Points to Win the Debate.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 7:00 am

Thanks, My Pleasure. Be sure to post that article on their site. That will “trigger” some journalists…LOL.

Phillip Bratby
December 30, 2017 6:23 am

‘New Scientist’ and the BBC ‘Focus’ magazine are prime examples of what used to be science magazines, but which nowadays predominantly concentrate on propaganda on climate change. You wouldn’t get an article or letter published in them if you were in the slightest way sceptical of man-made global warming caused by burning of fossil fuels, and the urgent necessity to do something about it and saving the planet.

December 30, 2017 6:43 am

I believe what you write about is a reflection of where we are as a society. I am an Engineer and have been working on studies and reports for over 30 years. In the old days you were trying to be unbiased in your analyses and went where the data took you. Of course there were factors that could be changed to adjust the outcomes, but we tried to use our judgement on the factors that were the most likely to occur. You usually reached one conclusion.

Fast forward to today and the reports have gotten longer and longer, more complicated, various scenarios presented, what if analyses, Monte Carlo analyses etc. Instead of a conclusion you have conclusions that can be picked from. If there was a preconceived result it can be easily be reached.

Just thinking out loud. The late 70s and early 80s was a turbulent time and the factors used in analyses at that time were completely wrong. Any evaluation and recommendation based on data before early 80s failed miserably. The runaway inflation and interest rates that occurred in the the early 80s was not anticipated and made recommendations suspect and sometimes wrong. I remember we awarded some contracts to purchase major equipment as fixed price without escalation or inflation factors. Those suppliers begged for relief. In most cases we had to allow for the inflation or the company may have gone out of business.

Maybe we have over complicated things so much that we as humans cannot properly manage things. How is that for a brilliant philosophical statement?

Reply to  gwgrubbs
December 30, 2017 8:03 am

Use of software makes complicated things easier to do, so you inevitably end up with unqualified people in positions of decision-making and authority. So the end result is often an emphasis on sales and promises and then PR/spin to put the lipstick on the pig after the eff-ups happen. This can go one for quite some time, given the advanced communications now available.

“If you put tomfoolery into a computer, nothing comes out of it but tomfoolery. But this tomfoolery, having passed through a very expensive machine, is somehow ennobled and no-one dares criticize it.”
-Pierre Gallois

Russ Wood
Reply to  PiperPaul
January 1, 2018 2:04 am

I actually used this whole effect. When (many years ago) I presented aircraft mass properties predictions that the sales department did not like, they tended to ignore them, with deleterious effects on the resulting aircraft. But – when I wrote a computer program that performed the same calculations, and presented the print-out saying “The COMPUTER doesn’t agree”, then the sales people would listen and possibly alter their pitch to the client.

December 30, 2017 6:48 am

..and then Facebook tries their “disputed” tag…..and it backfires on them big time…more people tend to believe it’s true, if Facebook says it’s not……..”f a k e news”


December 30, 2017 6:48 am

I am reading the biography of Benjamin Franklin and he uses what he calls decision arithmetic. He would use two columns one pro and one con. You would list the pros and cons and whichever column was longest was chosen. Can you imagine decision arithmetic for today’s world. 🙂

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 7:26 am

In sales that is known as the Ben Franklin close. You get them to acknowledge what a smart man Ben Franklin was and suggest you use the same method to make decisions that he did. Next you have the prospect make the lists of the positives and negatives of the purchase, of course as you presented them, and then lead them to make their decision by which one is longer (it will always be the positive).

Tom in Florida
December 30, 2017 6:54 am

I think that anyone who has been in sales knows this but in a different nomenclature. It is called the “pitch”. The company has product to sell and devises the best way to convince the prospective buyer to make the purchase by highlighting the positives and ignoring the negatives. As a salesperson you learn the company pitch and are required to present it in the prescribed manner. Do it well and you keep you job. In the end you either buy into the company line or, if you cannot, you simply leave and look for another job. I would suspect that in a more closed industry such as “reporting”, that may be more difficult as your reputation is probably better known by others in position to hire.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 7:04 am

Yes. I left several sales positions when I found out the product wasn’t as it was presented to be. It was a tough thing to do sometimes, we all need money, but my wife always understood and I never got disgusted with the man I saw in the mirror every morning.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Tom in Florida
December 30, 2017 8:46 am

Tom, big mistake. Always say good things about a competitor’s successful product. You can then explain that yours is an improvement over it, having resolved some of the issues that the other had, it’s at a discounted price or has superior warranty, or….

December 30, 2017 7:21 am

After a while, in the graphic above, journalist becomes boy who cried wolf and misinformed reader becomes jaded town folk. Eventually, liars aren’t believed even when they tell the truth.

Reply to  icisil
December 30, 2017 7:26 am

…and if you’re lucky….you get a president that makes it acceptable to call it f a k e news
something that wasn’t allowed before

Bruce Ploetz
December 30, 2017 7:34 am

I wish this essay could be part of the High School curricula, maybe expanded to a course on critical thinking. How does one form an informed opinion without knowing how to filter out the slant, consider the source, follow the money, find alternate sources to verify?

It is not possible and that is why in the most informed electorate in history we get the most ignorant decisions. There is more data and less truth today than at any point in man’s history.

Former President Obama said this last Wed

Former President Barack Obama spoke candidly about the power and danger of social media, in a BBC radio interview with Prince Harry on Wednesday.

Obama warned of the “balkanization of society” thanks to social media platforms — like Twitter, which his successor, Donald Trump, frequently uses to share spontaneous opinions.

“One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases,” said Obama in the interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a balkanization of society and allows ways of finding common ground.”


It is telling that the former President longs for the days when the New York Times could set an “Editorial Narrative”, have it echoed by Edward R Murrow on TV and everyone would have to toe the line. If it were not for these “balkanized” (another word for “dissenting” in effect) sources of information, we would all have to bow down to one source of “Pravda”.

Thank God for the internet, but like fire and any other tool it can be used for evil. If it takes down the “Grey Lady”, the New York Times, and saves a few trees from being pulped to spread the far left agenda then thank you Al Gore for inventing it. Wouldn’t be the first time a Frankenstein got loose to ravage its inventor.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 8:07 am

“Social Media is just The Rumor Mill gone mad”


And so much “news” is now just speculation designed to fill time in order to sell ads for kitchen gadgets and meds for aging baby boomers.

Bruce Ploetz
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 8:25 am

Same here, Kip, I don’t participate in social media at all except the occasional blog comment. It is amazing to watch it in reports though. There are actually adults who can name all the Kardashians and tell you what Justin Bieber thinks about anything but can’t name the three branches of government.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 4:31 pm


“I do not use SM at all …”

Aren’t we using “social media” right now? . . (Which reminds me; How are you fairing with the transition back to a cold climate, so far? ; )

To my mind, social media (in the broader sense, not what I think of more as socializing media) has effectively forestalled the societal domination of a relative few wealthy/powerful “elites” who could buy up the mass media (and who of course then could hire the editors who enforce “Editorial Narratives” as you discuss here) because they want to control “us” thereby . . you know, same old same old ; )

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 7:17 pm

Well, I can’t find any source (Wiki, Webster’s, etc) that agrees with you about this site/blogs not being a form of social media . . and since comments are typically far more voluminous than the posts, I’m gonna have to go with the crowd on this one ; )

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 31, 2017 8:44 am

“Kip: “I do not use SM at all …”

John: “Aren’t we using “social media” right now?”

I would consider WUWT to be social media. Anyone can read it and anyone, well, just about anyone, can comment.

I personally don’t use Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, et al, because I don’t like supporting people who censor what other people say. And in the case of Twitter, I couldn’t even get started using only 140 characters. 🙂 I do have a facebook account but have not logged into it in three or four years. Facebook is much too intrusive for me.

Places like WUWT are where it’s at. You can get both sides of the story, on just about any topic, here, and at other similar websites.

And if all else fails, Usenet is still a free-for-all where anyone can say anything.

I bet Usenet would concern Barrack Obama. He would feel the leftwing urge to slap some controls on it.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 1, 2018 1:49 pm

TA: “(on WUWT) you can get both sides of the story, on just about any topic…”

Regularely, the other side is Griff… LOL.

Reply to  Bruce Ploetz
December 30, 2017 8:22 am

“It is telling that the former President”…used to brag about how much he used SM

Reply to  Bruce Ploetz
December 31, 2017 8:24 am

“It is not possible and that is why in the most informed electorate in history we get the most ignorant decisions.”

Actually, we have the most MISinformed electorate in history. That’s why we get ignorant decisions, because the misinformed electorate are fooled by the Leftwing MSM into electing fools like Obama and Hillary.

The Leftwing MSM is dangerous to our freedoms because they create false realities which cause too many people to make the wrong decisions.

Fortunately, Trump is taking this dangerous leftwing propaganda organization head on and if we are lucky, he will destroy these liars reputations in the eyes of the public. This may be the most important war Trump prosecutes during his time as president.

The people of the USA, or any other country, cannot govern themselves properly if all they get from the MSM are lies and more lies. And that’s all we get from the MSM today.

December 30, 2017 7:35 am

It must really suck to graduate with a degree in journalism and then have to resort to presstitution to pay the bills.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 3:45 pm

The second thing I had to do on my job 40 years ago was work with a reporter for an article on a project we were running. They got everything wrong in the front page article that ran. From that week until after I retired I worked with some level of the news media (i.e., national, local, print, broadcast, cable) every week on a variety of scientific topics. Even though more than several called themselves scientific reporters, and several were award winning, few had even a basic understanding of science. All were looking for the “big story.” The younger reporters want to be Woodward or Bernstein. All were extremely liberal. Few had taken any science course since they were freshman. Yet All would argue scientific points based on some rumor they had heard. Some claiming when you did not agree with them that you were lying or were told to say whatever. I was asked by our state’s governor to explain to a newspaper reporter pesticides. I spent six hours talking with the reporter. He asked who invented all the various pesticides. I mentioned, literally in one sentence, that some like organophosphates were developed in German during the 1930s. The next day the headline in his paper was that the state had approved the use of Nazi developed nerve toxins to control mosquitoes. Where he got the rest of the information in his article I never found out. The governor’s office was not happy. However, the reporter did admit when the governor’s office called the newspaper that all I had said was some pesticides were invented in Germany during the 1930s. I then helped write a correction article to run on Sunday morning.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  icisil
December 30, 2017 8:12 am

It must not bother them one bit.

Reply to  Alan Robertson
December 30, 2017 11:06 am

I think you’re right about a lot of them

December 30, 2017 7:52 am

Excellent commentary. The “Editorial Narrative” has been in operation quite a long time. When I clerked in military intelligence decades ago, I learned not to trust the newspapers or anything the federal government stated, unless it was confirmed by a reasonable source. It was fairly disheartening to know the “enemy” was telling the truth, and our government and our newspapers were just issuing patently false information to the public.

December 30, 2017 7:52 am

crackpot hypotheses
97% of all scientific discoveries that were later found to be true were initially called crackpot.

December 30, 2017 8:05 am

something like 25% of the people on the planet have an aptitude for math. to the other 75% it remains a foreign language.

at least in accounting they recognized this and created 2 classes of accountants. normal accountants that only need master adding and subtracting and quantity. accountants that need master the daunting task of multiplication and (shudder) division.

Reply to  ferdberple
December 30, 2017 8:13 am

I thought the numbers were more like 3% and 97%, but 3.6437% and 96.3563% sounds more believable.

Reply to  PiperPaul
December 30, 2017 2:12 pm

PP: No, numbers that total 100% are not credible. The correct numbers would look more like 10% of the population are numerate; the other half are not.

Reply to  ferdberple
December 30, 2017 8:41 am

Robert A. Heinlein felt very strongly about math: “Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.”

And also: “If it can’t be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion. “

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 5:00 pm

Read much Heinlein, Kip? I have, for nearly 50 years now and pretty much everything he’s written. All of Heinlein’s strong male protagonists are mouthpieces for his personal viewpoints. His villains don’t get good lines. They’re cardboard characters that have the worst characteristics of Nazis and fascists — never honorable people just with different opinions about how things should be run.

Lazarus long is the lead character in several of Heinlein’s works: “Methuselah’s Chidren,” “The Number of the Beast,” “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls,” and “To Sail Beyond the Sunset.”

Heinlein is one author you can pretty much bet that if his protagonist says it, it’s Heinlein’s opinion as well.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  James Schrumpf
December 31, 2017 3:59 am

James Schrumpf – December 30, 2017 at 5:00 pm

His villains don’t get good lines. They’re cardboard characters that have the worst characteristics of Nazis and fascists — never honorable people just with different opinions about how things should be run.

James, FYI, ….. a ”villain” is defined as being …..

a character (in a film, novel, or play) whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.

Michael Lemaire
Reply to  ferdberple
December 30, 2017 11:20 am

There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

Luc Ozade
Reply to  Michael Lemaire
December 30, 2017 11:14 pm

There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

That joke wouldn’t work so well were it spoken!

Reply to  ferdberple
January 1, 2018 2:02 pm

It’s not about being a Math crack. I’m not. It’s about being curious and to use the means (like Math) to find out something. Recently I calculated that if you want to quick charge 1000 Teslas (In a future city or region) you have to fire up a modern Coal power plant (500MW).

The most Jornalists are even too lazy to grab a calculator and to do simple math. The same for politicians.

December 30, 2017 8:06 am

You have to admit that “creative non-fiction” sounds way better than “fake but accurate”.

Steve Case
Reply to  F. Leghorn
December 30, 2017 8:18 am

What’s wrong with just calling it bullshit?

Reply to  Steve Case
December 30, 2017 9:12 am

Brandolini’s Law: “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”

Reply to  Steve Case
December 30, 2017 1:24 pm

I do. Leftists don’t.

Steve Case
December 30, 2017 8:12 am

Kip – Great article. Really something we all more or less know, all you have to do is apply the Duck Test – What does it look like? And what it looks like is top down politics.

Thank you for using the “Obesity Crisis” as an example. I know people who buy into it hook line and sinker. When I was a kid there weren’t any neighborhood gyms with people working out before they went to work, no bike paths loaded with bikers and runners. And every grade school class had a fat kid or two. We are being led to believe that there are more fat people today – not to put too fine a point on it, that’s total B.S.

Reply to  Steve Case
December 30, 2017 8:46 am

SC, beg to differ. CDC maps two US categories, overweight and obese, by state by year using BMI (flawed index since muscle weighs 4x fat, but most common). Thirty years ago no state had over 20 % obese. Now, no state has under 20% obese. Highly recommend you review the CDC website on obesity, as the condition is a root cause of much medical cost. Direct medical costs of overweight/obese (T2 diabetes, CVD, …) now exceed those of all cancer by a factor of almost 2.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 9:17 am

…so-called overweight are perfectly normal and their numbers are used as a scare tactic by public health officials…

…who are then compelled to use the powers of the state to “fix” the “problem”. Convenient.

Reply to  Steve Case
December 30, 2017 11:15 am

I don’t remember many fat kids when I was growing up. We biked and walked everywhere, were always outside doing something, and even had mandatory daily gym period. I rode a bicycle nearly every day until I was about 23. Now fat kids are everywhere and walk/bicycle nowhere, it seems. Mom waits in the car at the bus stop so little Johnny doesn’t have to walk 100′ to the house. I did see a neat thing, though, while passing through a military town when school let out. All of the kids, all grades, were walking en masse home.

Reply to  icisil
December 30, 2017 12:27 pm

“…we tore up the neighborhood, terrorized the tame, and occasionally ducked into alleyways to avoid irate neighbors. But we were [mostly] skinny! ”

LOL memories… We’d probably have been shot if then was like today.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  icisil
December 31, 2017 4:38 am

The silly “bleeding-heart” liberal do-gooders have shut down the school playgrounds, eliminated recess activities, made it illegal for parents to expect or force their children to perform chores or do work around the home, made it illegal for neighbors, friends or strangers to hire adolescents to perform any type of work …… and thus most adolescents don’t have anything to do except sit around, eat, get fat, play video games, converse on social media and become proficient at engaging in Politically Correct protests, demonstrations, riots, etc.

December 30, 2017 8:13 am

[..] I listened to a visiting National staff reporter tell a contact, more or less: “My editor needs someone to say such-and-such, could you say that?”

Oh you hit so much in the nerve of our zeitgeist. Yes! We have here long had a term for the academic person who’s being called to say the soundbite. It is the pet ‘adjunct professor on shift’. God those people get on the nerves of the public.

Gary Pearse
December 30, 2017 8:16 am

Kip, I’ve been a sceptic for a very long time and frankly, to a considerable degree, it sucks. Of course, like any true sceptic, I didn’t choose to be one. I, with wife, newborn and toddler got caught up in a string of military coups that led to a civil war in Nigeria in the middle 1960s. I was on the staff of the Geological Survey.

In this case, the top echelons of military rank were Christians and 2/3 of the population of the country were Muslim, living in the north where I worked and lived. One night a commando unit assassinated the Sultan of Sokoto (Amadu Bello), an act equivalent in transborder Hausaland of killing the Pope. Also, this was only a year after the assassination of the Prime Minister Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Bulaywa and his entire cabinet. This led to the war.

One of my indulgences was to have Time Magazine sent to me and when I got the first issue covering the war, I was shocked to read that the “ignorant, uneducated, savage” Hausa had taken up arms against the educated, Clever Ibos in the south. The entire affair was created by a largely Christian Officers’ corps. And in passing, I should mention that the ignorant folks in Hausaland had an embassy in Constantinople in the Eleventh Century and ran trade in slaves, gold from the Gold Coast, and other goods across the Sahara to the Mediterranean. Im one who regrets what has become of the most hospitable, friendly, patient, tolerant people I have ever known and the existence of the ugly biases even back so far.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 12:17 pm

I recall an interview with retired Walter Cronkite where he stated that what he missed the most was “setting the agenda”.
And retired Peter Jennings stated he reported what “HE thought the people needed to know”.

December 30, 2017 8:40 am

In the last century or so, there has developed a new problem in science communications and science journalism.
this is not a new problem nor is it unique to science. “the news” was never about the facts because facts are rarely newsworthy.

“dog bites man” is a fact but you rarely see it in the news. rather expect to see a story about the evil dog owner with a dangerous breed.

the news doesn’t want to tell you what happened. it is not a public service. the news wants to tell you how to think about what happened. they want to be the moral authority. deciding right and wrong.

in effect the press is the village busybody with all that entails. facts are way down the list of priorities. most of all the busybody is all about how right they are and how wrong everyone else is.

dan no longer in CA
December 30, 2017 8:42 am

For several years, I worked in a small industry that got a lot of press. Most of it was trade press, but we also got a lot of “Popular Science” type of reporting. Frequently, the writers would submit drafts for factual comment. The article that was the least factual, and just plain wrong in some respects, was done by National Geographic. We called the writer and complained and his answer was that his editor decided to make the story “more interesting”

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  dan no longer in CA
December 31, 2017 4:49 am

National Geographic has morphed into a Politically Correct “junk science” reporting magazine publisher and documentary producer for the lefty liberal lemming community.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
December 31, 2017 5:12 pm

it’s now headed by the former head of NPR.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
January 2, 2018 7:09 pm

And that’s why I let my subscription lapse several years ago… the bias just got too odious.

December 30, 2017 8:53 am

How can one discern the truth? Whoever you are, scientist, professional, tradesperson, or layperson, use your education, training and life experience to conduct your own research and analysis, digging deeper and not taking popular “truisms” at face value. Ask:

– Does It Fit Reality? – The key test of truth is correspondence to reality, except that it is often difficult to reliably discern what reality is.
– Could the Current or Popular Science Be Wrong? – Remember, “science” does not equal “reality,” with many past examples where “common scientific knowledge” was proven wrong.
– Am I Being Psychologically Manipulated Using Fear and Conformity? – To break the barriers, be patient, become comfortable with failure, test assumptions, and act to counteract fear.
– Is This Science or Science-Fiction? – In the age of virtual reality, the lines between art and real life are blurred. Examples include sensationalist weather reporting and, recently, NASA coverage of the Jupiter probe, where more computer animations were presented than actual photos.
– Is the Author or Speaker Using Misdirection and Sleight of Hand? – Any single piece of research seldom yields breakthrough findings. Ask what the work really says and does not say. Carefully observe the uncertainties and limitations, being especially wary of flashy headlines like “new clues to the origin of ___,” “unlocking the mystery of ____,” “global warming linked to ____,” or a “new study shows ____?”
– Should I Doubt the Hyperbole? – The use of extreme descriptors like unprecedented, unmitigated, permanent, catastrophic, crisis, destruction, never before, highest, lowest is often a sign that the information being presented is flawed or overstated.
– Are the False Prophets Moving the Goalposts? – Scientists, economists, politicians and others who dare to predict the future are almost never right. A common ploy of the environmental false prophet is to change the subject, ignore failed predictions, or “move the goalposts” (e.g., 5 years become 10, then 20, then 50 or 100). In Old Testament times, false prophets were not tolerated, to put it mildly.
– Do I Detect Logical Fallacies? – Promoters/advocates/activists often employ logical fallacies, singly or as multiple fallacies, to influence debate. Learn the art of logic and how to spot logical fallacies.
– Is This a Broad Brush Statement? – Statements are often generalized to the point that they lose nuance and have little practical meaning, a flaw of so-called “consensus science.” Most such statements have a skin of truth, but they hide an effort to deceive, a common ploy of activists, environmental NGOs, politicians, governmental agencies, and major scientific or trade organizations.
– Is There the Charge of Being “Anti-Science?” – The label “anti-science” (or anti-intellectual) is a pejorative. One making such assertions usually means that science is only to be accepted when it aligns with that person’s geopolitical views and is to be rejected when it doesn’t. A person can even be labeled pro-science and anti-science simultaneously.
– Is the Source Spin-Doctoring the Information Being Presented? – On almost any topic, Internet searches yield lists of advocacy websites, pro or con. Unless well-conceived and moderated, they are seldom reliable and should be largely avoided. Advocacy and activism are big business with an agenda of selling, not products, but ideas. You can learn a lot by examining the “ABOUT” pages, including the organization’s boards of directors, advisors, and funding sources.
– Is This an Abusive Blog? – The “blogosphere” is rife with baseless opinion, rants, vulgarity, character attacks, and trolls whose goal is to detract or distract from the discussion. Except for well-moderated sites, try to avoid blogs and comments sections altogether.
– Has a Position Statement Been Tainted? – Because of the politicization of science and the activist strategy of going to the top to infiltrate or target the leadership of universities, professional societies and trade organizations, be very skeptical of organizational position statements. These are often contrary to the views of the organizations’ rank and file members.
– Is the Law of Unintended Consequences at Work? – “Systems thinking” (the pride of the sustainability movement) is based on flawed science and can lead to unintended consequences. Pummel every grand idea/plan with tough questions. Ask what might go wrong.
– Is the Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full? – Ask what is good about an allegedly detrimental condition or change, not just what is bad about it. Activists love to list a parade of horribles. Beware of anyone who takes this half-empty (or all empty) approach. For each supposed negative effect (presuming that something bad is even occurring), recognize that some benefits will often also accrue, maybe even outweighing the supposed negatives. In climate, warm is good, and CO2 is plant food.
– Who is Speaking, the Activists or the Professionals? – Finally, be patient. Even in the information age, change or improvement is a long, slow road. Public noisemakers rarely represent the views of the seasoned professionals who quietly persevere to do the real work at hand.

December 30, 2017 8:56 am

I was for part of my career a very senior exec at a ‘famous’ fortune 50 tech company with about 120,000 employees. We had to establish a PR department at both corporate and sector levels to deal with business and popular media. Precisely because there were obvious editorial narratives that twisted what we were actually trying to accomplish, and we needed a coherent pushback. While a sector exec and then while at corporate, had those departments reporting to me. Interestingly, editorial narratives differed by organisaztion. WSJ different than Business Week different than Fortune.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 10:39 am

Kip, hadn’t thought about it until you pointed it out. Yup. Different organizational news spins are proof positive of editorial narratives rather than some general worldview.

December 30, 2017 9:01 am

One of my favorite things about Steve Goddard’s site is when posts articles from news outlets that are the exact opposite of each other on a subject just separated by decades.

December 30, 2017 9:06 am

A narrative is the witch doctor’s tool. If you disbelieve the narrative explanation then you haven’t heard it all or haven’t attended to what you did hear closely enough. See homeopathy.

Fundamental education is the only convincing explanation and that requires a dialogue.

December 30, 2017 9:06 am

News was once an effort to report the facts as they had occurred.
Back in some imaginary time in the distant (fictional) past, that is.
Who, what, when, where, why, and how?
I doubt that there has ever been a time when “news” was strictly a factual reporting on what has happened. See the essays of Oliver Sacks for how story-making creeps into our memories, even when we are unaware of our re-framing of what we “remember.”
See the historians who have stated that winners get to write the stories of wars.
News has become the end product of a pre-written narrative. As Anthony Watts has chronicled in these pages, Global Temperature has see-sawed back and forth between Global Freeze and Global Heat Death.
The information which is “reported” is the information which fits the desired paradigm. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t print. I made that up myself. So POTUS tweeted that we need some Global Warming on New Year’s Eve, and all the pundits have house-sized cows! As I write, Erie, PA is under five FEET of snow, and even DC (where I live) is under an inch or so.
It is not an arguable datum: the radiation from the Sun is decreasing, especially in the non-visual spectrum That means colder weather, as it did in 1650. Remember: back then one could skate from Denmark to Sweden. Seriously. And the Thames froze over. Facts are such stubborn things. Facts do not fit narratives. Facts simply are. And trimming the facts to fit a narrative requires a lot of creativity!

John W. Garrett
December 30, 2017 9:09 am

Thank you(?)

It’s even worse than I thought (and I already knew it was bad).

December 30, 2017 9:12 am

The underlying problem is that those with a left leaning ideology have trouble isolating their political ‘feelings’ from their job requirements. This is because left leaning narratives tend to be driven by emotional arguments supplanting politically incorrect truths. Notice how “political correctness” is just another way to say “conforming to the left’s political narrative”.

The article show how this brain disease has infected the media, but it has also affected other organizations that are supposed to be politically neutral, for example, the DOJ, FBI, EPA, etc. Unless this is cured, an Orwellian like regime enforcing conformance to the left’s political narrative is in our future. Obama tried to push the country in that direction and the people rejected it by electing Trump and as a consequence, those infected with the disease have gone off the rails in response as their pathological condition has morphed into the Trump Derangement Syndrome.

December 30, 2017 9:30 am

Terrific article that I will pass on to friends. My first post here. Have we lost this fight? I am thinking about actual influential sources like Nat. Geo., NPR, Scientific American, etc none of which are even affected by this idea. They think they are correct and will not change. NPR is so entrenched that even the Trumpster might loose a fight against an outlet that is present in the background of every Doc and Dentist in the country.
Other more trivial sources like Outside, Popular Science and even SI do not care about squaring up their presentation. You can not read an article without some mention of ACW. I believe POTUS is doing lots of good things but in 5 years… the proverbial pendulum. I think i’ll get a Thorium tee shirt.

Larry Hamlin
December 30, 2017 9:47 am

Excellent article exposing what most WUWT that readers have known for decades – that the mainstream media treatment of climate issues is driven by propaganda based upon dishonesty, deception and distortion while avoiding anything resembling truth.

Tom Anderson
December 30, 2017 10:03 am

A few years ago, there was a reference in Climate Etc. to the following essay on much the same subject. The essay, particularly the bulleted hurdles for publishing science news, is an interesting comparison to the discussion here. It is long but makes an intriguing case for conclusion. The principle it raises, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, was by Dominic Lawson, son of Nigel Lawson, Lord Blaby. All of it confirms Will Rogers’ timeless comment, “I only know what I read in the newspapers, and that’s the alibi for my ignorance.”.
Excerpts from essay by David Speigelhalter, 2015 on what he called the Siddartha heuristic,
“A heuristic for sorting science stories in the news”:
Dominic Lawson’s article in the Sunday Times today quotes me as having the rather cynical heuristic: “the very fact that a piece of health research appears in the papers indicates that it is nonsense.” I stand by this, but after a bit more consideration I would like to suggest a slightly more refined version for dealing with science stories in the news, particularly medical ones.
The immediate impulse behind Lawson’s article was a spate of studies claiming associations between ordinary daily habits and future bad outcomes: eating a lot of white bread with becoming obese, being cynical with getting dementia, light bedrooms with obesity (again). All these stories associate mundane exposures with later developing dread outcomes, i.e. the classic ‘cats cause cancer’ type. My argument is that, since we would not be reading about a study in which these associations had not been found, we should take no notice of these claims.
Why my cynicism? There has been a lot of public discussion of potential biases in the published scientific literature – see for example, commentaries in the Economist and Forbes magazine. The general idea is that by the time research has been selected to be submitted, and then selected for publication, there is a good chance the results are false positives. For a good review of the evidence for this see “A summary of the evidence that most published research is false.” There is also an excellent blog by Dorothy Bishop on why so much research goes unpublished.
The point of this blog is to argue that such selection bias is as nothing compared to the hurdles over-come by stories that are not only published, but publicised. For a study to be publicised, it must have
• Been considered worthwhile to write up and submit to a journal or other outlet
• Have been accepted for publication by the referees and editors
• Been considered ‘newsworthy’ enough to deserve a press release
• Been sexy enough to attract a journalist’s interest
• Got past an editor of a newspaper or newsroom.
Anything that gets through all these hurdles stands a huge chance of being a freak finding. In fact, if the coverage is on the radio, I recommend sticking your fingers in your ears and loudly saying ‘la-la-la’ to yourself.
The crucial idea is that since there is an unknown amount of evidence that you are not hearing about and that would contradict this story, there is no point in paying attention to whatever it is claiming.
I have been struggling to find a suitable name for this heuristic, perhaps with some literary or classical allusion to someone who was misled by only being told selected items of information. Perhaps the ‘Siddhartha’ heuristic? Siddhārtha Gautama was a prince who was only told good news, and protected from seeing suffering and death. But he finally realised that he was not seeing the world as it really was, and so he left his palace to first take on the life as a wandering ascetic, and eventually to become the Buddha.

The whole article, from 2014:

Reply to  Tom Anderson
December 31, 2017 9:38 am

“Siddhārtha Gautama was a prince who was only told good news, and protected from seeing suffering and death. But he finally realised that he was not seeing the world as it really was”

He saw a dead man laying on the side of the road for the first time in his life, which caused him to question his understanding of reality.

December 30, 2017 10:14 am

I have noticed that recent articles are prefaced by an abstract. Wonderful. Hope it continues

December 30, 2017 10:17 am

Kip, Thanks for your effort on this and I agree completely with your comments about “narrative”.

I suggest however that you either find a different topic from health and nutrition to draw upon, or spend a few years studying a variety of viewpoints on it, particularly those that draw upon ancestral health principles. A few examples of what I mean:

You Say: “There are actually more very heavy people. We just don’t really know why nor do we know how to “fix” it, short of butchering people’s stomachs and intestines (a very radical and unhealthy solution — but less unhealthy than forcing someone to maintain their 350-400 pound weight).”

If by “we” you mean mainstream western health and nutrition “experts”, then this is correct, however mainstream health experts have unleashed and defended an appalling trail of health destruction. More insightful voices have plenty of “fixes” and more importantly, preventions, by no means perfect, but far better than the barbaric stomach reduction techniques. The “we “ you’re referring to makes climate “science” look positively competent in comparison.

You Say:

“ Australia is a different case — maybe I’ll write about their weight problem at another time — but their problem is not sugar as implied by the Times.”

This implies that you believe there is a single problem and/or that sugar is not a contributor in their case. Both of these have years worth of discussion in the health world. The best evidence seems to be overwhelmingly in favor of their being numerous (at least 8 well-known) specific pathways that lead to health problems including obesity, and dietary sugar negatively influences several of these. (The types of sugar are a whole additional discussion.) Paul Jaminet did a blog post that is well worth reading about s statistical construct that suggests whether something has a single cause or multiple causes (across populations, in some people a single cause is enough) and diabesity has the statistical signature of multiple causes.

There has been lots of debate about the degree of Sugar’s role with for example Gary Taubes arguing for a large role and Stephen Guyanet arguing that sugar’s role is overstated, however the best evidence as far as I can tell is that for most people, added sugars are a high-risk low-reward proposition that in many people will start or contribute to a decline in health, in some cases with no other variables in play. (For what it’s worth, if Taubes, Lustig and Co. are wrong, it hasn’t been shown by Guyanet and other sugar defenders.)

You say:

“It just doesn’t happen to be supported by any Science — a point which even Dugger at the NY Times admits. “

This is a massive topic, and I’m not sure what the NYT thinks they’re admitting to, but I think it’s safe to say that “Frankenfoods” of the type alluded to are a massive health problem and there is strong evidence from many doctors focusing on nutrition that simply helping people transition to a directionally paleo-compliant eating pattern alone resolves a vast array of health issues in many people.

If you are serious about diving into the health topic, I would recommend Paul Jaminet’s book Perfect Health Diet as a starting point (there are many podcasts and videos with him as well) and then branch out from there. His blog is also a great resource, and there are many hundreds of other great sources as well.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 1, 2018 4:28 pm

Kip, I went back through the two articles you linked and read through them and many of the comments. Thanks for linking those. My overriding comment is that I respectfully suggest you dial your level of confidence in your knowledge of health down by at least 50%. I recognize your tone because I used to have the same level of (IMO over-) confidence until I had some health issues of my own that caused me to go back and dramatically re-evaluate everything I was sure I knew (much of which turned out to be either wrong, or sufficiently incomplete to be wrong) and open my mind to as many new sources of information as I could find. I am now in a mindset of “I know nothing.” I am inviting you to learn enough to eventually be able to join in me in that level of knowledge. Additional examples of good starting points would be to study the concepts of metabolic flexibility to expand your knowledge of physiology and also read Dr. Kendrick’s “What Causes Heart Disease” series for a good introduction to what attention to detail is all about. I agree with many of your points, but many others are AFAIK counter to best evidence or violate basic risk/reward decision-making and will damage your credibility among people who closelyfollow what I will call Enlightened health..
And no, I’m not Paul Jaminet, but what if I was? You would have insulted someone who is highly respected (especially for his civil tone) who you could learn a lot from and who might meaningfully help your own health. (As an aside, I’ve noticed that many people will literally kill themselves rather than keep an open mind about their core beliefs.).
In the words of one of the great philosophers, “Don’t ever forget that you just might end up being wrong”.

December 30, 2017 10:37 am


Thanks for a very interesting and insightful article.

I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s in NYC in an environment where the NYTimes was held up as the paragon of what a newspaper was supposed to be. My 4th grade teacher taught us how to properly fold the paper so it could be read on a crowded subway or bus.

Today the NYTimes has become the most biased of the biased MSM. Bias drips from virtually everything that they publish. The editors, opinion writers, and reporters are thoroughly ingrained with the liberal progressive point of view with virtually no room for disagreement. Even their so called conservative columnists have to hedge their views in order to get published. They even have the audacity to provide a synopsis each day of “what you need to know today”.

It’s very difficult today to find unbiased reporting.

Most people won’t take the time to wade through the bias and just accept what they read or hear from their favorite sources. CNN, NYTimes, Washington Post, Tweets.

I find this all very distressing especially when I can’t engage my grown children and grandchildren to do their own due diligence.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 11:44 am

They abandoned journalism a long time ago.
The difference is that they no longer try to hide it.

Reply to  Mark Silbert
December 31, 2017 9:52 am

“It’s very difficult today to find unbiased reporting.

Most people won’t take the time to wade through the bias and just accept what they read or hear from their favorite sources. CNN, NYTimes, Washington Post,”

People should assume that most of the news they see has a Leftwing bias to it, because it does. Giving the leftwing media the benefit of the doubt is the wrong way to look at it. You should assume they are distorting the facts until proven otherwise.

One thing that really irritates me about Fox News, is when they cover stories that originated from the NYT or Washington Post as though they were credible.

They give the stories the same spin as the NYT until later, when it is proven to be false, then they change their tune. This just goes to show that the NYT still sets the editorial agenda for the entire news media including Fox News.

It’s hard to break bad habits sometimes.

December 30, 2017 10:46 am

In a letter from Thomas Jefferson To John Norvell Washington, June 14, 1807:

“…It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more compleatly deprive the nation of it’s benefits, than is done by it’s abandoned prostitution to falsehood. Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowlege with the lies of the day. I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens, who, reading newspapers, live & die in the belief, that they have known something of what has been passing in the world in their time; …”

Perhaps trusting the press for much of anything has been folly for a long time.

Reference page:

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 11:47 am

I really can’t think of when this “golden age” of journalism might have been.
The difference is that back in the 60’s and 70’s, the papers could bias the news and there were no alternative news source that could get the real story to the masses.
When Cronkite told the world “That’s the way it was”, he was lying.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 3:51 pm

Kip: I’m not sure there was ever a “golden age” but there was a time with a bit more integrity. I remember when the opinions were expressed on the Opinion page of the paper. The rest of the paper at least gave the impression of conveying some facts. Although the injection of opinion as fact has been going on for a long time, the last two years have shown a dramatic shift that is very frighting. The press has gone from bias to full sedition if not boarding on treason. I fear for our country and our future.

Bloke down the pub
December 30, 2017 10:55 am

I think that most people, when buying a newspaper (perhaps more-so than when just reading it online) understand that it has an over-view on politics and therefore buy the paper that more closely matches their own. Science issues may not receive the same critical thinking and may therefore be more likely to be accepted as true, for any given value of truth.

J Mac
December 30, 2017 11:12 am

Excellent article, Kip!

Schrodinger's Cat
December 30, 2017 11:17 am

As a child, I loved science. I wanted to become an inventor. As a teenager, I read every book on science that I could find in the public library. I then studied chemistry at university and just as I was about to start a PhD I got head hunted by industry. Over the years I fulfilled my childhood ambition and had a couple of dozen patents granted. Science was in my blood.

When I retired, I started to investigate climate change to find out what the fuss was about. I now know quite a lot about the subject, its main players and the arguments. I see the published papers and read the debates.

Now, when I see headlines about what scientists are claiming, my reaction is scepticism, anger, even disgust. Logically, I know there are decent scientists in other fields, doing brilliant work, but but climate science has poisoned my view of science, scientists and even academia. I realise that is very sad.

Reply to  Schrodinger's Cat
December 30, 2017 2:33 pm

Different journey to skepticism (personal story told at Denizens 2 over at Climate Etc), but ultimately reached the same endpoint you have, including about academia. Three years ago Informed the major gifts organization of my 3x alma mater university that they could expect nothing and should stop wasting their time flying down annually to solicit me until after it cleaned up its climate act, which included but was not limited to separating from Naomi Oreskes. My youngest brother, an early retired Coke exec and Penn State alumnus, has done the same with Penn State over Mann.

Rob Dawg
December 30, 2017 11:39 am

NPR has gone over the line. Today’s broadcast actually used the word “proof.”
Their correspondent described the “proof” as comparing a model of pre-industrial world climate to a model of current world climate.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 2:35 pm

Not ‘borders on delusional’, FULLY delusional and weirdly immune to simple verifiable facts.

John W. Garrett
Reply to  Rob Dawg
December 30, 2017 2:56 pm

Where climate is concerned, NPR actually stands for:

It is a national disgrace.

Reply to  John W. Garrett
December 30, 2017 8:08 pm

Where anything even vaguely political is concerned NPR hoes a strict socialist/communist line where the government is never wrong, unless they can find a Republican to blame.

December 30, 2017 1:03 pm

Some thirty years ago I read a few articles about journalism. Over a few years. A couple included interviews with students at such a school. The question was “Why are you taking journalism?”
“To change the world.”
Not to report.

December 30, 2017 1:03 pm

Kip – another well argued post. Thanks for researching and sharing.

robert from oz
December 30, 2017 1:11 pm

One of my favorite quotes unsure of author is ” To not read a newspaper is to be uninformed, to read a newspaper is to be misinformed “.

Reply to  robert from oz
December 30, 2017 1:29 pm

“If you don’t read the news paper, you are un-informed. If you read the news paper, you are mis-informed”

Mark Twain

Gunga Din
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 30, 2017 4:54 pm
Gunga Din
Reply to  robert from oz
December 30, 2017 4:49 pm

All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.
Will Rogers

robert from oz
Reply to  Gunga Din
December 31, 2017 12:38 am

Wow I’m glad I stuck with unknown .

December 30, 2017 1:22 pm

Not journalism: Agitprop.

nutso fasst
December 30, 2017 1:36 pm

Anxiety can promote binge eating. Anxiety can also result in the prescription of psychotropic medications of which a side effect is weight gain. Celia Dugger writes anxiety-producing NYT articles. Therefore, Celia Dugger very likely contributes to the obesity epidemic.

Nick House
December 30, 2017 1:56 pm

The BBC’s execrable line on AGW Alarmist kept shouting out at me throughout my reading of this excellent piece. Their climate reports are so skewered that I can no longer watch any of their news coverage.

Extreme Hiatus
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 2:33 pm

Kip – Alternatively, someone just needs to methodically analyze the BBC’s ‘reporting’ and their obvious ‘narrative’ would be revealed in spades. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

The most obvious early indication of the CAGW propaganda machine was which news outlets did or did not cover the Climategate story.

michael hart
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 4:30 pm

Kip, I thought the BBC line had been discussed at great length here, and in many places. For example

The pdf of the discussed document “FROM SEESAW TO WAGON WHEEL Safeguarding impartiality in the 21st century ” is available here https://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/29/boaden_tribunal_information_refusal/

michael hart
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 4:39 pm

Hmm… not sure what happened with the link I posted. The document pdf loads OK for me, but doesn’t appear when I follow the link after I post the link at WUWT. The original link from the Register appeared broken, but I found it easily with a google search using the document title “From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel: Safeguarding Impartiality in the 21st Century”

John V. Wright
December 30, 2017 2:45 pm

Kip, thank you so much for this superb article. I was a journalist for 15 years in the UK and I have worked with the media for more than 50 years in varying capacities. I have known many BBC journalists and worked alongside local, regional, national and international reporters all my professional life.

I am sorry to say that although there are some wonderfully gifted and hard working BBC journalists who report with integrity, there are none allowed anywhere near climate change issues. To many intelligent UK consumers of news, the BBC has become a horribly – I almost said Harrab(in)ly – embarrassing laughing stock. The BBC, as a result of its secret meeting which set the Editorial Narrative for CAGW, does not, as a matter of policy, report even-handedly on these issues. Let me repeat that – as a matter of policy.

I have a tape of a senior BBC guy explaining on one of its feedback programmes how they had decided that the warmist and sceptical sides of the discussion were not to be given equal weight in news and current affairs programming. As a journalist I was trained that, when reporting on controversial issues or on stories where there was a dispute as to the facts, that the COUNTER point of view had to be included very early on (usually the second paragraph). The BBC not only does not include a counter view ‘early on’ in its climate change pieces, it doesn’t include them AT ALL.

I have known many good BBC journalists in my time. Now, sadly, its reportage on CAGW issues is face-reddeningly awful. These are ‘reporters’ with huge research resources available to them but they are not allowed by their Editorial Narrative policy to reflect counter views. For many English people it is truly embarrassing to see these so-called senior reporters filing misleading, inaccurate and shamefully biased pieces.

I could say more but sleep is calling. Thanks again for an important contribution to WUWT.

Reply to  John V. Wright
December 31, 2017 11:42 am

“For many English people it is truly embarrassing to see these so-called senior reporters filing misleading, inaccurate and shamefully biased pieces.”

It’s also costing them a lot of money since if the English people were given the truth about the climate then they wouldn’t be wasting billions of pounds on windmills and other “renewables” and their electric rates would be much lower.

December 30, 2017 3:24 pm

… it is one of the mainstay talking points of anti-corporatists of all stripes …

Anyone who believes that Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand will result in moral corporate behaviour will also believe that science is self-correcting and things like CAGW won’t last long. That person is living in cloud cuckoo land. I, personally, trust corporations no more than I trust the average politician. Both are a danger to our freedom if they aren’t watched closely.

Reply to  commieBob
December 30, 2017 8:14 pm

Corporations can’t force you to buy their product, so they are no danger to anyone’s freedom.
If you don’t think that the free market can’t enforce corporate morality, just look at how fast Apple is backpedaling once people found out what they were doing regarding the speed of out of date phones.
It’s good image is the most important asset a company has, and the only way to protect that image long term is to be moral.

Reply to  MarkW
December 30, 2017 10:51 pm

… once people found out …

Exactly. As I said:

Both are a danger to our freedom if they aren’t watched closely.

Power corrupts. It corrupts politicians, it corrupts corporations. If they think they won’t be caught, there’s no limit to what they’ll do. Just look at how Enron defrauded the people of California.

Reply to  MarkW
December 31, 2017 9:49 am

All humans are capable of evil.
However corporations can’t force people to buy their product and they can’t jail those who oppose them.
Pretending that they are equally dangerous is a fools game.

Reply to  MarkW
December 31, 2017 11:52 am

A company can cheat you, but only government can take your freedom away.
A company that cheats you can be taken to court. When government takes away your freedom you have no recourse.

michael hart
December 30, 2017 4:04 pm

I get the impression that those in the professional MSM-class are faced with several problems in the internet-age.
The cost of publishing is now far lower which means there is much more competition, as well as increased diversity of opinions. There is consequently far less time and money available for honest journalists to spend producing high quality output. Politics aside, I can easily believe that the majority of people working in publishing for a living feel the commercial pressures of the deadline more keenly than ever before.

However, some big media outlets are still effectively run at a loss because they have wealthy owners/backers who are as much interested in the political power of being a ‘press baron’ as they have in running a profitable business. (That includes the BBC.) These outlets seem to have much less excuse for such poor journalistic standards. Perhaps it’s now just accepted as the norm these days. Fortunately, I think they will be no more successful than the state media were in the communist nations behind the iron-curtain: Lots of employees and citizens toed the party line, but were simultaneously confident they were being lied to much of the time. And incorrigible liars are often so incompetent because they don’t really believe the deceptions they practice. The BBC has made global warming their party line, but we can be sure even Harrabin and McGrath won’t turn down many opportunities to jet off to another IPCC conference about the evils of CO2 and jet fuel in a warm and sunny location in far-distant lands. There they get to eat and drink along with our political masters, Hollywood celebrities, and modern media-moguls as they churn out more global warming propaganda that never actually changes one jot. Regular citizens, employees, readers, viewers, and listeners, do eventually notice such gross hypocrisy. People who emigrated from the former communist nations notice it sooner. Not being able to complain because their jobs are at stake, many in the media will quietly go along with it until history changes course slightly and they can drop it equally quietly because they were never really interested in it.

We live in interesting times where the traditional means of misinforming and deceiving people are becoming less effective. New approaches are still emerging, but people are discovering new ways of answering back and nobody is really sure what will be the long term fate of big MSM. The people most discomforted are largely those who need to be discomforted.

December 30, 2017 6:13 pm

An example of science serving the agenda from SciAm no less:
Some time ago SciAm ran an article on the effects of poverty on mortality. Statistically, being of low economic status is a risk factor for early mortality. The writer blamed the usual suspects such as poor nutrition and poor healthcare but acknowledged that the poor die earlier even when everyone has good access to both. Then the author blamed the stress of being poor. The poor have less security and their lives are in many ways more stressful. Cortisol kills the poor. But what if we could study people under conditions that controlled for stress? The article then refers to a Nun`s study. Women join at a young age and presumably experience equal stresses throughout their lives. The statistics show that nuns who join their order from more well-off families live longer than nuns who join from poor ones. So the writer makes the obvious scientific conclusion ‘even having been poor causes stress that leads to early death’. There is no mention of the science that under-girds all of biology.

Did it not occur to the writer or editors of the article that maybe people who are genetically programmed to live long lives also have more time and energy to acquire wealth? They pass their long life genes on to their children even when they don`t pass on their wealth.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 30, 2017 8:06 pm

SciAm wants money to read the original. Psychological stress the main factor in earlier mortality of the poor
Thu, Mar 9, 2006, I found a text copy at http://www.precaution.org/lib/06/sick_of_poverty.051215.htm.

Below are two representative paragraphs.

Nevertheless, the bulk of the facts suggests that the arrow goes from
economic status to health that SES at some point in life predicts
health measures later on. Among the many demonstrations of this point
is a remarkable study of elderly American nuns. All had taken their
vows as young adults and had spent many years thereafter sharing diet,
health care and housing, thereby controlling for those lifestyle
factors. Yet in their old age, patterns of disease, incidence of
dementia and longevity were still significantly predicted by their SES
status from when they became nuns, at least half a century before.

There is a similar paragraph about the British Civil service.

There is this brilliant conclusion near the end.

Adler’s provocative finding is that
subjective SES is at least as good as objective SES at predicting
patterns of cardiovascular function, measures of metabolism,
incidences of obesity and levels of stress hormones — suggesting that
the SUBJECTIVE FEELINGS feelings may help explain the objective results.

Go to the article and do a search on words like genes or genetics. A person with a scientifically trained mind would at least consider the possibility that ones economic status might be determined by ones health or the health of ones parents. A person with a mind trained in advocacy would never consider it.

Poor Richard
December 31, 2017 3:06 am


I have written about science, tech, and medicine for nearly 5 decades (mostly helping various organizations with their communications to key audiences), and you have hit a home run with your article.

Just this AM, I finished reading Mark Dice’s “The True Story of Fake News.” It is an eye-opening look at bias in media, heavily documented and thoroughly footnoted, and well written. Among the big take-aways: if you are relying on Facebook or Twitter for your news, to say you are poorly served would be a gross understatement. I would recommend your article and his book as a reality check for anyone who wishes to be informed rather than propagandized. (and I have no connection with Dice, commercial or otherwise.)

So, ya done good. Put a Gold Star on your chart, and if you get to the Capital District of New York State, the pie and coffee are on me.

December 31, 2017 7:22 am

So….the EPA said Roundup is safe to consume, in much the same way that the FDA said VIOXX was safe to consume. That means it must be true!

The US gov declared CFCs a danger to the planet, but only to benefit DuPont at the expense of every human on the planet who didn’t own shares in their protection racket.

US GOV claimed repeatedly for nearly a century, that cannabis caused insanity and murderous rampages, but again, only to benefit the privileged caste at DuPont at the expense of all other people on the planet.

The EPA, of course, has an awesome reputation for honesty and transparency!!
If the EPA says Roundup is safe for consumption, you know it must be good!

Enjoy your Roundup ready corn(TM), all you Roundup-ready-ready(TM) people!

Reply to  Khwarizmi
December 31, 2017 9:54 am

You don’t consume Roundup.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 1, 2018 2:05 pm

Even German Government agencies said so.

December 31, 2017 10:04 am

I wonder what Tom Yulsman (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/imageo/2016/11/03/global-warming-contributed-strongly-to-record-snow-drought-in-westernmost-united-states/) says now, or Craig Welch (http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20040214&slug=warming14m ) or, Mark Jaffe (https://www.seattletimes.com/life/outdoors/global-warming-study-shows-grim-future-for-ski-resorts/ ), or Greg Nickels (http://grist.org/article/little-nickels/) or the many others voicing of the Global Warming/ Climate Change meme.
These useful idiots, spreaders of UN-IPCC propaganda, who use weather events to help propagate these lies, have they changed their tune? Will they apologies for leading so many astray?
I doubt it.

December 31, 2017 3:10 pm

I’m still waiting for my flying car!

December 31, 2017 4:57 pm

If a news story makes an appeal to emotion a multitude of red flags should go up. You are being played. Consider discounting the story; maybe decline to finish reading, listening or watching as the case may be. And remember: If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.

January 2, 2018 1:06 pm

Hansen, why would you read the New York Times?

It’s birdcage floor lining material,
not a serious unbiased newspaper !

I stopped reading the mainstream media about global warming
years ago EXCEPT for a few articles in the last week of each year.

This year I read some articles from Scientific American
and the predictions of various future catastrophes were scarier than ever,
at least to the morons who read that magazine
and think they are reading about real climate science.

Even worse, there were no comment sections I could access
to put in my two cents … which probably would be deleted
by the next day — not for bad language — just for questioning
the conclusion that CO2 controls the average temperature.

It is depressing to read articles that display the sad state of science today.

Climate blog for people who
appreciate common sense
and no climate predictions:


Kurt in Switzerland
January 3, 2018 12:24 pm

Good job, Kip. A timely and important reminder for the lay reader.
MSM “science” reporters follow a clear agenda (narrative).
Information which supports the narrative makes it to front and center.
Non-conforming information is summarily ignored.

I recall an article last month (from the NYT) which suggested that free trade was the cause of increased poor nutrition and increased obesity in the developing world. The implication was that “free trade was bad for the poor”. I wondered out loud to myself what the NYT editors were up to.

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