Bad science journalism and the false dilemma of offshore wind and oil.

Guest rant by David Middleton

“If you’ve ever wondered why science journalism is so incredibly bad…”

NPR Is Seeking A Science Editor. Science Education Not Required.

By Alex Berezow — February 5, 2018

The job ad is appalling.

NPR, which to its credit at least attempts to cover science and health, is looking for a new Science Editor. Unfortunately, actually being trained in science is not required for the job.

Under the qualifications section, the ad says, “Education: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience.” Amazingly, not only is a background in science unnecessary, college itself is optional.


If you’ve ever wondered why science journalism is so incredibly bad, this is why. (It’s also one reason why we ranked NPR’s science coverage rather poorly.) But it’s not just NPR. It’s almost all of journalism.

KCTS, the PBS affiliate in Seattle, has a job ad for Science/Environment Producer. Once again, neither a background in science or even a college degree is required. Instead, the jaw-dropping ad reads:

“The ideal candidate will be an experienced field producer with a deep understanding of Northwest environmental issues, including urban sustainability and environmental justice.”

In other words, the ideal candidate works for Greenpeace or Sierra Club in policy issues rather than accepting science.


American Council on Science and Health

Alex Berezow has always been a straight shooter.  Real Clear Science was far better when he and Hank Campbell were involved.

About Alex Berezow:

Senior Fellow of Biomedical Science

Dr. Alex Berezow joined the American Council on Science and Health as Senior Fellow of Biomedical Science in May 2016. Dr. Berezow is a prolific science writer whose work has appeared in multiple outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, BBC News, The Economist, and USA Today, where he serves as a member of the Board of Contributors. In 2017, he published Little Black Book of Junk Science, and with Hank Campbell in 2012, he co-authored Science Left Behind, which was an environmental policy bestseller. Dr. Berezow has spoken to a wide variety of audiences about science, from graduate school seminars and church congregations to national TV and radio programs. Formerly, he was the founding editor of RealClearScience. He holds a Ph.D. in microbiology.

While a science Ph.D. may not be necessary to be a science journalist, some educational or work experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) should be a prerequisite.  Science journalism is generally abysmal.  However, there is one notable exception: local news broadcasts.  Whenever there is an earthquake, volcanic eruption or some other geological/geophysical catastrophe, who does the local news anchor turn to?

In my experience, they almost always turn to the weather person… Even if the weather person doesn’t have a degree in meteorology, they generally have a strong science background.

Although, even in the area of broadcast meteorology, the focus is blurred by the “E” word…

The Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) program was established to raise the professional standard in broadcast meteorology and encourage a broader range of scientific understanding, especially with respect to environmental issues. Among radio and television meteorologists, the CBM designation is sought as a mark of professional distinction and recognition.

That said, it’s a fairly safe bet that no Certified Broadcast Meteorologist would try to link asteroids to climate change or government shutdowns.

[Insert Creative Segue]

Here’s a typical example of abysmal science journalism …

Not a Drill: Oil and Gas Exploration Dead in the Water for Governors


With most coastal chief executives ready to battle to protect their seashores and fisheries, the Trump administration storms into the country’s first energy-environmental showdown.


The debate over offshore oil and gas drilling is the first major clash of the Trump-inspired energy-environmental wars. This battle doesn’t just pit the states against the federal government; it also pits the fossil fuel actors that quickly seized the regulatory levers of government against the renewable energy forces that were empowered during the Obama years. Unlike the new federal centurions, governors in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and elsewhere have firmly embraced renewable energy in the oceans in the form of wind farms.

Turbines are not benign; they come with their own environmental negatives as any ornithologist can attest. But they are unlikely to produce the kind of environmental devastation that a Deepwater Horizon-style oil spill can unleash, or produce the greenhouse gases that imperil life on Earth.


The American Prospect

Ms. Gurley’s degrees in political science enable her to cover “several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment“; and to write something this fracking stupid:

Turbines are not benign; they come with their own environmental negatives as any ornithologist can attest. But they are unlikely to produce the kind of environmental devastation that a Deepwater Horizon-style oil spill can unleash, or produce the greenhouse gases that imperil life on Earth.


In U.S. offshore drilling and production, there is no such thing as “a Deepwater Horizon-style oil spill.”  There’s just the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, more commonly referred to as “Macondo” in the oil industry.

“Or produce the greenhouse gases that imperil life on Earth”… I’ll let Tim Allen handle this one.

Scientific American fared a little better with this story…

Trump Wants Offshore Drilling, but States Are Choosing Wind Energy

States bordering the outer continental shelf are looking for carbon-free electricity as the Trump administration rolls back rules requiring it

By Brittany Patterson, ClimateWire on February 5, 2018

Atlantic coast states might be protesting President Trump’s plan to expand offshore oil drilling, but they’re increasingly embracing a different kind of seaborne energy: wind.

States bordering the outer continental shelf are looking for carbon-free electricity, even as the Trump administration rolls back rules requiring it. Last week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that his state will aim for 3,500 megawatts of installed offshore wind by 2030, enough to power 1 million homes. Massachusetts has a goal to build 1,600 MW of offshore wind power by 2027, and New York has committed to 2,400 MW by 2030.


It’s possible that the wind and oil industries may compete for the same blocks of ocean seabed. That could create strife. Generally, when BOEM grants renewable energy rights on the outer continental shelf, they are exclusive rights to the seafloor.


E&E News via Scientific American

While the article does go on to discuss the synergies that would occur with offshore wind farm installations and offshore drilling and production facilities, the article includes two mind bogglingly stupid concepts…

  1. Offshore wind and offshore oil are an either-or proposition; as if they were interchangeable.
  2. Offshore wind and offshore oil might “compete for the same blocks of ocean seabed.”

While the Scientific American article is a distinct improvement over The American Prospect article, how could someone be so scientifically illiterate that they would think that offshore wind and offshore oil might not be compatible or that they would “compete for the same blocks of ocean seabed”?  Maybe it’s the result of magna cum laude degrees from the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and San Jose State University.

Nether article even touched on the atrocious economics of offshore wind power, although the Scientific American did at least mention the death of “Cape Wind’s 130-turbine project off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.”


Offshore wind costs more than “beautiful clean coal” with CCS, almost twice as much as nuclear power and it’s half as reliable.  No, offshore wind is not down to £57.5/MWh (~$80/MWh) in Europe.

In it’s first year of operation the Block Island Wind Farm managed a 39% capacity factor.

MWh 100% Output Capacity Factor
Dec-16                6,313                 21,799 29%
Jan-17                8,898                 21,799 41%
Feb-17                7,801                 19,690 40%
Mar-17             10,514                 21,799 48%
Apr-17                6,904                 21,096 33%
May-17                9,162                 21,799 42%
Jun-17                9,932                 21,096 47%
Jul-17                6,724                 21,799 31%
Aug-17                5,712                 21,799 26%
Sep-17                5,698                 21,096 27%
Oct-17             10,195                 21,799 47%
Nov-17             10,985                 21,096 52%
1-yr Total             98,838               256,668 39%

That’s an average daily rate of 271 MWh/d… That’s 924 million British Thermal Units per day (mmbtu/d).

In light of the journalistic practice of assuming that wind and fossil fuels are interchangeable and mutually incompatible:

  1. A typical Marcellus natural gas well produces 5,000 mmbtu/d.
  2. A typical deepwater oil well in the Gulf of Mexico produces 5,000 bbl/d, nearly 30,000 mmbtu/d.
  3. The Block Island Wind Farm produces 924 mmbtu/d.

Oh… But it gets better.  Offshore oil production platforms generally host multiple oil wells.  If offshore wind and offshore oil actually did “compete for the same blocks of ocean seabed,” it wouldn’t be much of a competition.  Offshore oil easily beats offshore wind in the false dichotomy category.

Whats that?  It’s unfair to directly compare wellhead natural gas production to electricity output from a power plant… OK…

Natural Gas btu/kWh                     7,870
Well Production btu/d    5,000,000,000
Electricity Ouput kWh/d                635,324
Electricity Ouput mWh/d                        635
Electricity Ouput Block Islands                         2.3

A single typical Marcellus gas well yields 2.3 Block Islands worth of electricity-equivalent per day.

Featured image source.

Recommended further reading:

 Capital cost of offshore wind farms is rising


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February 7, 2018 8:01 am

The even more egregious aspects of offshore wind is the capital required to get such meager output of energy in offshore wind vs onshore or even offshore oil/gas. Of course what’s the worst part of all this? Ratepayers foot the bill in the form of landed costs of offshore wind of $0.25-$0.30 per kWh of electricity. That typically doesn’t include the additional 5-7 cents of transmission and distribution costs to get it to your home. In other words, political actors and regulators are forcing utilities to buy electricity from offshore wind at prices 2- 3 times more expensive than the worst days of wholesale power, and 5-6 times tha annual average. It’s criminal.

JRF in Pensacola
Reply to  MichaelS
February 7, 2018 9:15 am

And, some have the desire to tie our transportation system to an energy source that so far has proven to be incapable of handling base load needs (read Australia….and I love Australia!).

Reply to  MichaelS
February 7, 2018 10:23 am

Here in CT with our wonderful 25% renewable mandate, my delivery charges (with taxes) is usually 10 to 12 c / kwh. Generation rates are around 9c / kwh plus or minus a bit as we are deregulated and you can sometimes save a penny.
Anyway yet another reason my state is gping down.

Leo Smith
Reply to  MichaelS
February 7, 2018 12:17 pm

UK offshore wind is a lot better than that at around 10-12p/kwh. plus around 2-4p/kwh in terms of balancing its intermittency.
Its still a heck of a lot more than the wholesale CCGT/coal price – 4p/Kwh – though

Bryan A
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 7, 2018 2:18 pm

Glow little Atom, like a fire
Light my incandescent light bulb wire
Glow for all the human race
Turn on the AC and cool my place
This night could use a little more brightnin’
light it up like a bolt of lightnin’

Reply to  Leo Smith
February 7, 2018 3:28 pm

“Bryan A February 7, 2018 at 2:18 pm
Glow little Atom, like a fire
Light my incandescent light bulb wire
Glow for all the human race
Turn on the AC and cool my place
This night could use a little more brightnin’
light it up like a bolt of lightnin’”

Great ditty Bryan!
The greenie version starts of with “Darkness darkness”.

February 7, 2018 8:05 am

The KCTS ad simply shows that science reporting is totally politicised. And because the people who run these media outlets cannot see that their political views are just that – their views – but think of them as righteous facts, they cannot see the politicisation.
Here in the UK we had the spectacle of an ex-senior civil servant claiming that the civil service wasn’t biased because the opposing view was “selling snake-oil”. He simply couldn’t understand the howls of derision.

Cloud 9
Reply to  Phoenix44
February 7, 2018 8:32 am

What the ad shows is that NPR already has a person in line for the position and the ad is written to exclude almost everyone else in the application process.

Reply to  Cloud 9
February 7, 2018 1:51 pm

It could be that, or perhaps NPR lacks anyone who could intelligently interview job candidates possessing expertise in the hard sciences.

Reply to  Phoenix44
February 7, 2018 2:30 pm

I don’t know why it is referred to as “science reporting” as every article I’ve read over the last 10 years or so has been “science editorial” not science reporting.
Therein lies the biggest issue in journalism today. They do not seem to understand the bright line that is to be drawn between reporting and editorial.

Curious George
February 7, 2018 8:10 am

Down with elitism! Forward with diversity! Why should a NPR science editor have any knowledge of science? Most of her/his listeners have none either. This way (s)he will not disrespect anybody. And that’s what modern journalism is about.

M Montgomery
Reply to  Curious George
February 7, 2018 8:27 am

Yeah, the blind leading the blind into a nice comfy little bubble of non-reality goo. That’s what I want! That’s exactly what this world needs is more ignorance perpectuating ignorance….
Just blow the planet up now and get it over with cuz we’re going down with brain dead like CG.
(Disclaimer: I didn’t detect a sarcastic disclaimer from CG)

Curious George
Reply to  M Montgomery
February 7, 2018 8:56 am

It is the sign of times that the reality is difficult to distinguish from sarcasm. A little sarcasm: Why does an NPR editor need any education at all? To represent the people NPR serves, at least 2% of editors should be illiterate. /sarc

February 7, 2018 8:29 am

“If you’ve ever wondered why science journalism is so incredibly bad…”

Lemme guess…
because it’s done by journalists?

Reply to  icisil
February 7, 2018 12:37 pm

Yeah. Journalist writing properly on STEM topics is like asking Trump to talk nicely on Democrats. Won’t happen!
Just listen to them when they’re given Poincare’s conjecture to write about. ‘Could we concentrate on how environmental matters hit the poor women and children?’

Jeff Labute
February 7, 2018 8:33 am

It is sad. Unfortunately you don’t see many scientists or engineers who want to be editors. If you’re not a scientist, then editing can be one of your best skills using cameras and photo-shop. Bill Nye may be an editor. You can’t have your cake and edit too though.

February 7, 2018 8:35 am

So, NPR is upgrading their Science Editor position.
What’s the problem?

February 7, 2018 8:39 am

Have known it for years, that many “science” writers have no demonstrated science comprehension. They continually make false headlines, attack scientists based on ideology and even lie about the referred papers position on a science matter.

February 7, 2018 8:43 am

…produce the greenhouse gases that imperil life on Earth

LOL. CO2, the essential trace gas, that if its atmospheric concentration decreases by about 57%, all life on planet Earth will cease to exist.

Reply to  icisil
February 7, 2018 9:41 am

Even the IPCC has given up trying to claim more than “CO2 will cost more than it benefits”.
However the faithful still cling to the previous message.

John Garrett
February 7, 2018 8:51 am

I will lie in bed this evening dreaming (and hoping) that Berezow’s piece somehow penetrates NPR’s deflector shields and finds its way into every NPR employee’s in-box (I’m not dumb enough to harbor even the slightest hope that the same might occur at the NYT [a/k/a Pravda], the WaPo, PBS, CNN, NBC, CBS,…)

Reply to  John Garrett
February 7, 2018 2:33 pm

don’t hope on NPR either.

February 7, 2018 9:22 am

Many years ago qualified people called reporters did that sort of task. Essentially a reporter’s job was to report on reality in a clear dispassionate way, keeping their reports to just observations and verified accounts. Reporters were usually well qualified in their field of expertize, unusually good at pulling the threads of truth of a situation, clearly explaining how things worked. They often uncovered incidences of pseudoscience, and political flim-flam. Reporters were truth-bringers regardless of what the publication employing them demanded. Many reporters were admired for being truthful to both themselves and the public.
Reporters died out decades ago — RIP.
These days there are people call Journalists.
Usually journalist have a pronounced political view (though often not directly admitted), and often it is left leaning. Journalist are not employed by what they know but often who they know. Journalists concoct nice emotional stories which may, or more often do not, have a basis in reality but must always stay within the political remit of the proprietor and their publication. Journalists are so often just lackeys of the political elite, and will lie to retain their jobs.
Main stream media (MSM) found over the years that having real reporters got in the way of conveying the political message, and their proprietor’s political ambitions, thus were removed the idea of employing qualified reporters decades ago.
Journalists now fill that position and act as just as fairground barkers, offering dumbed-down, politically savy, opinion-makers that the MSM require now; writers and program makers who can emote the correct political message, guiding the majority of unthinking populous to their (the MSM’s) perception of what is politically correct.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  tom0mason
February 7, 2018 10:02 am

“Reporters” as you describe them never existed. They are a fantastical creation of the MSM. Read an old newspaper from the turn of the last century and it’s quickly evident they were quite partisan. Read Thomas Jefferson’s complaints regarding the newspapers of his day, for that matter. No, the reporters you describe were never any more substantial than a will ‘o the wisp.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 7, 2018 10:46 am

Indeed and it has always been so.
My point is that in the past, real honest reporters did exist and were admire for their honesty. I’m not saying there were many of them, or that the majority of reporters were so.
These days MSM’s truth is that do not wish to employ such individuals, thus they do not exist any more.
The honest reporters are now an extinct species, replaced by lying political hacks, and dishonestly emotive but complacent ‘journalists’.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 7, 2018 5:09 pm

It’s more of a case of an overwhelming amount of bullshit fed by a neverending thirst for novelty and a relentless crusade for political righteousness.

Tom in Florida
February 7, 2018 9:28 am

Lest we forget that David Letterman started out as a local news weatherman.

February 7, 2018 9:32 am

In journalism, knowing what you’re talking about comes second to telling a good story. That’s what builds an audience and sells subscriptions.

February 7, 2018 9:50 am

You don’t get a Pulitzer for reporting the news. You get the reward for telling a good story. Correlation to actual events is not part of the award criteria.
Used to be different. That’s changed.

Stephen Skinner
February 7, 2018 9:54 am

Generally agree, but…
“While a science Ph.D. may not be necessary to be a science journalist, some educational or work experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) should be a prerequisite. ”
Bill Bryson does not have a degree or STEM experience apart from working in a hospital but he wrote the excellent book “A Short History of Nearly Everything”.
There are those with degrees (maybe in science) and STEM experience but it does not guarantee that they can think. Good journalists will uncover the details and put them in some sort of context and order.

Stephen Skinner
February 7, 2018 9:57 am

What if they have a degree in Climate Change?

Reply to  Stephen Skinner
February 7, 2018 11:32 am

That’s not a science degree, that’s a degree in propaganda.

February 7, 2018 10:02 am

“While a science Ph.D. may not be necessary to be a science journalist, some educational or work experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) should be a prerequisite. Science journalism is generally abysmal.”
It should be a prerequisite if you want them to understand what they’re writing about, and to be able to make judgement calls about what they’re being told. I think science journalism is abysmal on purpose.

February 7, 2018 10:15 am

NPR is seeking a politicized science writer with superior evidence of bias for an advocacy swamp reporting job. NPR accepts applications from all races and colors as long as they are deep green.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2018 12:41 pm

I’m sure this is the case. Sad, but true. There is no honesty.

Tom in Denver
February 7, 2018 10:16 am

We’ve bumped into onshore wind leases while leasing for O&G in the past. Those wind leases were really onerous. 50 year lease with a bonus of only $10/acre, and lease specifically stated that no other mineral development would be allowed for the term of the lease. The landowners that signed these leases got really screwed, very little wind royalties at all, and they are shut out from millions of dollars of potential O&G royalties.

February 7, 2018 10:42 am

With most coastal chief executives ready to battle to protect their seashores and fisheries,

Yeah, sure, uh huh. Nothing negatively impacts fishing boat operations more than offshore windmill farms.

Reply to  David Middleton
February 7, 2018 12:10 pm

Fish love the things we put in the water. From docklands to sunken ships to platforms, they readily gather around manmade landmarks. Prey species get hiding places, predator species get ambush points, plants and filter feeders get anchor points. Anything that breaks up the monotony of the open seabed turns into prime aquatic real estate.

Reply to  icisil
February 7, 2018 2:44 pm

There probably isn’t a lot of net trawling or other commercial fishing going on around locations where wind turbines are erected, other than maybe lobster trapping. Many off-shore wind farms are located on shoals or other marginally navigable waters. Commercial trawlers will be steering clear of the shallows.
Nothing to preclude the sport fishermen though.

February 7, 2018 11:01 am

I have offered to edit both CNN and PBS segments for free and have been turned down. CNN ran an ad for a special on an “archaeological dig” with an important find of “crustaceous dinosaurs” (I’m not making this up). PBS had a special on making enough electricity to power a home from a few ounces of tap water. They deleted it and sort of apologized but you can find a transcript here:

Reply to  Doug
February 7, 2018 11:16 am


Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2018 2:48 pm

OMG! Crab-people from the paleo-crustaceous epoch!

Chuck in Houston
Reply to  Doug
February 8, 2018 12:55 pm

Doug – “crustaceous dinosaurs”. Really, really large crabs and lobsters?

February 7, 2018 11:07 am

Some of the best technical writing I have ever seen was done by or at the behest of lawyers. The problem is to communicate complicated technical matter in a manner that a lay jury can understand well enough to come to a reasonable conclusion. This example is the best precis I have seen of the issues related to safety critical embedded systems.

February 7, 2018 11:16 am

‘ imperil life on Earth.’
This concept may come from the false concept as there is no such thing as zero risk
Anti-nukes love to site that mathematically, every nuclear power plant exposes every person on earth to radiation. And there is a theory that any cell damaged by radiation can ‘cause’ cancer; therefore there is no such thing as zero risk.
This where engineering and science differ. For example, if you work at a facility that makes fuel rods for nuclear reactors; if you are in a room where there is an accidental criticality occurs you will die. We engineer safety features to reduce the risk to a very small number. In practical terms, there has never been a criticality in a US commercial facility so the actual risk is zero.
If your exposure to radiation is zero, your risk is zero. That is if your meter says 0 mrem/hr.
Another way to say this is that any discrete atom, molecule, or packet of EM radiation can only be at one place at any given time to interact with something else.
A living thing might be imperiled by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. However, life on earth exists in huge abundance, in a huge variety forms and places.
If as an engineer, you are hiring me to ‘imperil life’; I want to be paid by the hour. I will also need a provisioned sailboat to test my theories on a tropical island.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
February 7, 2018 2:53 pm

Kit, that’s the difference between a scientist and an engineer. A scientist can calculate a number, but it takes an engineer to let you know just how big of $hitload that is, or… isn’t.

Stan on The Brazos
Reply to  rocketscientist
February 7, 2018 5:19 pm

I always say engineers make imperfect science work.

Reply to  Stan on The Brazos
February 7, 2018 6:49 pm

Rather, “Engineers are paid to make “imperfect science” work “well enough” to make a profit.”
The “science” may be exact, but if there is no “profit” then there is no money to do the analysis (and pay the taxes) and design (and pay the taxes) and purchasing (and pay the taxes) and fabrication (and pay the taxes) and assembly (and pay the taxes) and testing (and pay the taxes) and shipping (and pay the taxes) and then pay the owner who paid for all of THAT before the “profit” might be made. Sometimes.
Now, a “scientist” only needs to convince “one editor” and “one reviewer” that his or her idea is “worth the cost of publishing another paper” once a year …..

Reply to  rocketscientist
February 8, 2018 9:11 am

Remember the old joke about the scientist, the engineer and the pretty girl.

February 7, 2018 11:30 am

Well of course the BBC’s Roger Harrabin has no scientific qualifications, but that doesn’t stop him being their chief of climate change propaganda.

February 7, 2018 11:49 am

This morning I saw a picture in the news that was disturbing. The article I was reading was about Merkel’s attempt to put together a coalition government in Germany. It’s a rather important piece of news. The article included a photograph of an unidentified German news room where about twenty or so reporters were running around covering the story. What I found disturbing was that with one exception all the reporters in the photograph looked they were all in their early twenties, just out of college, and the news room itself looked like a college common area. Presumably the newspapers and networks would have sent their more experienced reporters to cover such an important story.
I wonder what percentage of the articles you read in mainstream newspapers and that you watch on mainstream broadcasting were written by children just out of college?

Reply to  David Middleton
February 7, 2018 1:13 pm

This is just evidence of the scope of manipulation and degradation of agencies under Obama…in addition to FBI, IRS, and of course DOJ and obviously EPA.

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
February 7, 2018 2:21 pm

12…Shoot, I thouht it was a childhood picture of Fred Savage from “The Wonder Years” during show filming

Reply to  David Middleton
February 7, 2018 3:21 pm

Only a group as blindly prejudiced as CNN would think that any analysis by the Government Accountability Office ordered by the notoriously prejudicial Senators Maria Cantwell of Washington and Susan Collins is “nonpartisan” “honest” or “knowledgeable” about climate change. Specifically, they most definitely biased about the supposed “urgent need” for spending EVEN MORE money for “climate change” itself – as the basic reply/publicity release cited by this CNN “reporter” proves .
Nor, of course, can any advantage on spending money on “climate change” be ever established, although disaster aid is needed. Unless it is spent by the Clinton Foundation rather than assisting affected Haitian poor.

WB Wilson
Reply to  David Middleton
February 8, 2018 8:41 am

And where has Ivan the Terrible gone? Have we chased him away? He’s all about science journalistic propaganda.

Joel Snider
February 7, 2018 12:08 pm

“If you’ve ever wondered why science journalism is so incredibly bad…”
I never have. It’s coordination with political messaging. And it ain’t just science journalism – it’s pretty much across the board.
Dare I say… ‘collusion’?

February 7, 2018 12:18 pm

Is any of you reading newspaper? I don’t.
Seems to me that newspaper have an audience of ignorant socialists and brainwashed enviromons, and they need to satisfy them. Proper science and real news won’t satisfy them, only fake news and astrology-like “science”

Joel Snider
Reply to  paqyfelyc
February 8, 2018 12:13 pm

I always force myself to look, and keep my eyes open.
‘Was I unwise to keep them open for so long.”

Leo Smith
February 7, 2018 12:28 pm

Someone pays every science reporter.
The only variable is who…
The success of anything to do with renewable energy is the success of a bandwagon meme that diverts taxpayer money into causes that are subsidised to allow them to buy journalists to promote their cause.
This IS the politics of the ‘New Left’.
– Find a Cause, any Cause
– Get government grants to Do Something About It
– Use those grants to buy publicity for the Cause
– Get taxpayer dollars to subsidise those Doing Something About The Cause.
– Get Those Doing Something About The Cause to advertise with your media.
– Pay Journalists to turn their Press Releases into ‘stories’.
In the end its a wonderful rolling money machine for anyone who ‘Supports the Cause’ and the only losers are the taxpaying plebs.
Who can safely be won over with a bit of Liberal Virtue Signalling.
And anyone who opposes the Cause gets the sack.
Simples!comment image

February 7, 2018 12:45 pm

I propose Trump build a Wall — of virtuous, planet-saving windmills along Martha’s Vineyard. Civic-minded, planet-saving residents will probably chip in to pay for it.

Reply to  BallBounces
February 7, 2018 6:12 pm

Then he could erect a city of “dreamers” to work on it.

February 7, 2018 1:18 pm

I think this article has way too many personal attacks and too much juvenile name calling in it, and isn’t worthy of inclusion in this blog. You can make your point without using phrases like “mind bogglingly stupid”.

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
February 7, 2018 2:29 pm

They can even sit 1/10 mile away from each other without affecting one another
Sharing the same sea floor tract allows for BOTH sources of energy to be exploited simultaneously in the same space. The Sea Floor usage around the platform is similar to the platform footprint anyway.
Absolutely no reason why you couldn’t have 4 wind turbines making a square 1/4 mile on a side and have an Oil Drilling Platform right in the center of the 4 turbines

Reply to  Bryan A
February 7, 2018 3:05 pm

Bryan A

Absolutely no reason why you couldn’t have 4 wind turbines making a square 1/4 mile on a side and have an Oil Drilling Platform right in the center of the 4 turbines

Er, NO. No you cannot site them like that.
The oil drilling and production platforms require continuous assist ship availability – so the assist ship (fire or evacuation most importantly, replenishment and re-stocking of drill chemicals and general supplies and part that are too heavy for helicopter servicing) have to be able to get to and around the drill platforms unimpeded by storms, sea, and direction of the wind. The wind turbines around a drill platform prevent that access, particularly under night and stormy conditions when access and maneuvering are most limited BY the adjacent minefield (er, windmill platforms.)
Second, the wind turbines require smooth, even wind flow to the blades, out to what used to be 6-7 blade diamters, but for the newer bigger blades needs to be 12-15 diameters. Siting them that close – and the oil platforms create as much turbulence downstream as the big windmills do! – is prohibited by the physics.

Reply to  David Middleton
February 7, 2018 7:12 pm

David Middleton
Your photo’s and links confirm my point:
The oil platform IS as strong an influence on downwind disturbance levels as the wind-turbine,
the oil platform MUST Be isolated from the wind turbine platforms (the one in the example is on the outside of the wind turbine array, approachable from >3 sides freely and with no turbines around it! ),
and that the wind turbines at sea MUST BE maintainable and approachable themselves.
If one assumes they ever actually will be repaired. Today, on land, wind turbines are one of them most dangerous, most expensive repair and maintenance projects ever! Much more deadly than most jobs!

Kristi Silber
Reply to  David Middleton
February 7, 2018 5:19 pm

You seem to confuse reporting both sides of an issue with a journalist stating an assertion of personal belief. As I wrote in my post below, the opposite view is also presented – there will be no competition. You may be right in suggesting some idea is mind-bogglingly stupid, but it’s false, misleading and irresponsible to suggest that it’s an example of poor journalism, or “scientific illiteracy” on the part of the journalist to report on that idea as one position of the issue.. It’s so easy, though, isn’t it? Many people will simply believe you, and not read the article you rant about.
As the Sci Am article points out, competition may simply come down to getting the rights to a given bit of sea-bed. That doesn’t mean that two industries couldn’t work it out, but there is nevertheless the POSSIBILITY of competition. That doesn’t make it inevitable. Did you even read the Sci Am article, David?

J Wurts
February 7, 2018 1:28 pm

Why would Alex Berezow report this when The American Council on Science and Health (NCSH) has a chart on its web site that claims that the magazines NATION, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, SCIENCE etc. are “evidenced based reporting”? I am confused, if NCSH believes that NATGEO is ‘science based’, why would they have a problem with these employee standards?

John Garrett
Reply to  J Wurts
February 7, 2018 1:47 pm

I, too, was very surprised to see National Geographic categorized as an “evidenced based reporting” publication.
In addition to their decade-long repetition of wholly unsubstantiated climate propaganda, I will never forget the Arab Oil Embargo era (c1975) cover article proclaiming, “The End of Oil.”
It is difficult for me to imagine a more biased, partisan operation.

J Wurts
Reply to  David Middleton
February 7, 2018 2:26 pm

David Middleton
I’m not good with this HTML stuff
the link is the one in the third paragraph from the top.
If you’ve ever wondered why science journalism is so incredibly bad, this is why. (It’s also one reason why we…..ranked NPR’s science coverage rather poorly…..) But it’s not just NPR. It’s almost all of journalism.

Reply to  David Middleton
February 8, 2018 3:28 am

MIT tech review, guardian, BBC, the economist, labeled “evidence-based” when reporting science ? seriously?

February 7, 2018 1:30 pm

Since science is not at all involved in NPR’s propaganda style coverage of science and health, there is no need for the candidates applying for a new Science Editor position to have any sort of science qualification. In fact, such a qualification could be a real disadvantage as they could start asking too many awkward questions.

February 7, 2018 2:34 pm

Maybe we should hang wind turbines on the oil platforms just to keep the greens happy, yes it a waste of money but at least we could get something of value from the deal. Think about it might not be a bad idea when the winds blowing they won’t need to run as many diesel generators to keep the platform powered even though the diesel would be less expensive.

Kristi Silber
February 7, 2018 3:56 pm

I agree that we would all be better off if the media were better at interpreting science to the public, and ideally journalists would be trained in science. (Are there science journalism degrees, I wonder?) But they aren’t. I doubt many people would go through the drudgery of getting a PhD and doing research, then want to write about it instead. This position is specifically for Health Editor, and it’s such a broad topic that experience in one field might not help anyway..
Regardless, there is no need to single out this ad and turn it from average into “appalling” though one criticism: it says, “or equivalent work experience,” just like so many other job ads do. That’s getting really desperate when you want to disparage a media outlet so badly that you use that for an excuse.
There is no mention of the other requirements. Here’s one:.
“Strong grasp of journalistic ethics. Experience maintaining high journalistic standards including standards of objectivity, balance and fairness. ”
Right there in the job ad, before you even apply: ethics, objectivity, balance, fairness. Of course, you will think NPR and scoff – and it’s true, it’s liberal, but it tries to present the whole story far more than this site does.
It’s ironic to present an essay about the dearth of good science journalism here.
“The ideal candidate will be an experienced field producer with a deep understanding of Northwest environmental issues, including urban sustainability and environmental justice.”
In other words, the ideal candidate works for Greenpeace or Sierra Club in policy issues rather than accepting science.
There is absolutely no logic here. It’s propaganda, that’s all. Someone could have a deep understanding of those things and be a lobbyist for the forestry industry. “Works for Greepeace…rather than accepting science.” The whole sentence is just loaded with meaning, the message that public TV prefers advocacy over truth., It’s an accusation with the illusion of evidence.
The ranter complains that the article says oil and wind could compete for the same seabed. The article also says, “Experts said it’s unlikely there would be direct competition for the same slice of ocean between the two industries.” It’s called presenting two sides to a story. Middleton prefers that the author assert there’s no possibility of competition, I guess, regardless whether it’s true.
The whole essay is filled with bits of unrelated, poor examples as if they were evidence justifying a general conclusion. I agree fully with the general premise that science journalism is poor, but the way it’s supported here is nothing but an excuse to send messages that have nothing to do with the supposed point of the essay. I believe the real motive is to send messages denigrating public news and discrediting (a type of) reporting on the energy industry.
I guess the essayist at least admits that it’s a rant and not journalism, but there are plenty of better instances of lack of professionalism out there..

Kristi Silber
Reply to  David Middleton
February 11, 2018 12:51 am

David, you said the article had mind bogglingly stupid concepts, one of which was the idea that offshore wind and offshore oil might “compete for the same blocks of ocean seabed,” but you failed to also say that the article told readers that some experts said the reverse. These are the two sides to the story – or two views of it, or whatever you want to call it. As you know, journalists often try to represent conflicting opinions in the desire for “balance” in reporting. You call it stupid, fine. You have your opinion, but that doesn’t mean I can’t read.
Either-or propositions do not imply two things are interchangeable.

Kristi Silber
Reply to  David Middleton
February 11, 2018 2:43 pm

Quit telling me I need to read the post just because I disagree. If you think I’m misunderstanding a particular point, tell me.
Either-or propositions are neither mathematically nor logically about interchangeability. Take a quadratic equation that has two solutions: either 4 or -9 will solve it. Does that mean 4 and 9 are interchangeable quantities? Or, say I want either an apple or an orange. Does that mean they are interchangeable in general?
You may well be right about wind turbines and oil rigs sharing the same spot, though it seems more complex than you make it. What about helicopter transport, especially during storms? What about emergency procedures? What if states don’t want an oil rig off their shore, and would prefer wind? And, as you point out, there is boat access. I frankly don’t know enough to judge, but none of that is really my point anyway.
My point is that I don’t think you are justified in saying the journalist is scientifically illiterate just because you don’t agree with something in the story. The journalist may not agree any more than you do, but that doesn’t mean it’s illiterate to include their position; it’s a common practice in journalism, one that is much discussed these days. Some journalists are wondering whether it is actually doing readers a disservice if two sides of an argument are given equal space when one side is deemed much more likely to be accurate and true than the other. However, then there are problems of bias and the definition of “truth” and different ideas about what is good for society. I believe that generally the best, most ethical journalism presents a range of plausible ideas and evidence and allowsj the reader to decide. I don’t expect you to do so now because your essay is an op ed. You are free to state your opinion, I’m free to state mine.
I’m sorry if I offended you. I get rather carried away sometimes in my writing. I’m not here to make enemies, though I suppose that’s bound to happen these days simply through passionate disagreement and the effects on discussion conferred by the internet.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
February 8, 2018 9:16 am

Journalistic ethics? Don’t make me laugh.

michael hart
February 7, 2018 4:48 pm

I’m sure the creative-accountancy departments can make the maintenance budgets look reasonable for off-shore wind installations before they hit the wall, but I never hear much said about decommissioning costs.
(I could also be persuaded that abandoned turbines help form artificial ‘reefs’ which are beneficial for marine life. But owners of oil rigs are not afforded the same luxury, if the Brent Spar story is anything to go by.)

Extreme Hiatus
February 7, 2018 5:38 pm

Need a new term. Too much of the propaganda feed cannot be honestly described as “journalism.” There is a suggestion of objectivity and investigation inherent in that term.
I call this new stuff “churnalism.”
We also need a new term for the politicized so called post modern “science” too. If it does not use the scientific method it is not science.

Reply to  Extreme Hiatus
February 8, 2018 3:32 am

No need of a new term. If it gets an adjective, is in not science. For instance: Geology is science; Earth science is not. Climatology is science; “climate science ” is not.

February 8, 2018 3:35 am

Twenty years ago I learned that a degree in Education that ‘qualifies’ someone to become a science teacher in public schools does NOT require even a single science class with a laboratory component.

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