Pyrmonter: Why the need for spin?

Respectable people can think there is human-induced climate change.  And that, on balance, it is a bad thing (likely more harmful the greater and the faster it is).  And that it is worth considering whether, and if so, how, public policy might respond (Pyrmonter has engaged with several cats on this issue in discussion fora).  Others – especially some around Catallaxy – take strongly contrary views.

What respectable people cannot do, if they wish to retain their respectability, is engage in dishonest argument, such as passing off opinion surveys derived from biased samples of the population as representative of it. Yet, again, this is what the ABC is doing with a sample taken from its ‘Australia Talks’ project undertaken last year.

Recently the ABC told us, based on the Australia Talks data*, that most Australians are troubled (going so far as to say, ‘losing sleep’, though that is surely journalistic cliché) about climate change.

Cats will recall that Australia Talks involved a survey using a large sample (somewhere over 50,000 responses) of respondents to an earlier ABC data gathering exercise, Australia Votes.  The promoters of the project say they have weighted the responses by various social characteristics so that it can fairly represent the entire population.  What they can’t do however is exclude the inevitable bias involved in selecting their data from that subset of the population that is motivated to interact with the ABC.

While the survey can find respondents who are coalition, PHON or LDP voters who interact with the ABC (including Pyrmonter), extrapolating from those sub-sets of the population assumes that those who interact with the ABC are representative of the population.  Such an assumption is quickly contradicted by consideration of the ABC’s media channels: left-leaning youth radio networks (the ‘J’ brand); generally older, upper middle class listeners to western art music (ABC FM) (though, presumably biased against those who now use more modern platforms like Spotify or Apple Music); middle class listeners to the ABC metropolitan stations; the mostly left leaning listenership of RN; and that small share of the population that continues to watch ABC television, now almost shorn of its once staple feed of BBC dramas and documentaries.

Australia Talks tells us something interesting.  It tells us what those who interact with the ABC (and who, generally, are that part of the population likely to resist changes to it) think.  What it doesn’t tell us is what the national population thinks. The ABC should stop pretending it does.  And those in a position to inquire about the ABC’s conduct – its staff, its management, its Board and their paymasters – should be asking why it continues to do it.

Background

* The ABC also refers in passing to a survey undertaken by the Australia Institute.  Cats are referred to the writings of Kevin Bonham, Anthony Wells and Nate Silver about the usefulness (or not) of campaign polling.

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31 Responses to Pyrmonter: Why the need for spin?

  1. stackja

    ABC used to provide radio on 2FC and 2BL in Sydney. James Dibble read the news. Now what? Rubbish!

  2. MACK

    There are many people who get all their news and information from the ABC and the SMH or Age. Much of the bias in these organisations is from not reporting – the fact the CFMEU is in court almost every day, the fact that several solar farms are restricted in output due to grid insufficiency and more renewables will make things worse, the fact the ABC has 27 journalists in Canberra, the fact that the States get half their money from Canberra, the fact that we know exactly what is wrong with our education system but unions and politicians refuse to act, the fact that most climate parameters are stable etc etc. With all the brainwashing, the results of their survey are not surprising, but they have little to do with the views of the majority who have negligible contact with these left wing media outlets.

  3. Bruce of Newcastle

    The ABC also refers in passing to a survey undertaken by the Australia Institute.

    Would that be the same Australia Institute whose representative debated Monckton on global warming and lost abjectly?

    Why, yes. It would be the same Australia Institute.

    In the decade since the data only has gotten firmer that no sihgnificant climate change is occurring other than the natural. The large rise in CO2 since then isn’t doing much warming, if any. Humans can fart about as much as they like but we can’t affect the Sun and oceans.

  4. I know people whose only source of news is Their ABC and the Age. You can guess what their world view is of Trump, conservatives in general, climate change, social justice etc.

    Over the years, I’ve managed to get one such person to question what Their ABC and the Age presents and begin to see that there are other valid views about.

  5. Good work bemused!

    Thanks. It’s quite interesting to observe their change in attitude when they begin to realise the extent of bias of their previous news sources. To some extent, they’ve become sceptical of all Australian mainstream news sources, which is a good thing as nowadays the MSM are all cut from the same cloth.

  6. Rafe Champion

    Respectable people can think there is human-induced climate change. And that, on balance, it is a bad thing (likely more harmful the greater and the faster it is).

    What balance makes you think climate change is a bad thing? Check out the Little Ice Age.

    What credible evidence is there for any warming-induced harm in recent decades?

    Real science and plenty of evidence indicates that things will get better with all the warming we can expect for the rest of the century. And consider the most obvious benefit of CO2 (plant food).

  7. a happy little debunker

    I used to interact with the ABC – but they pulled all comments from all platforms (except for Media Bytes), because of a ‘lack of funding’.
    Mind you if you do deign to comment on ‘media bytes’, I doubt they are ever e-published, as I have never seen any actual comments.

    This is not an organisation that wants to interact with it’s viewers – it exists to project onto it’s viewers.

  8. struth

    The traitorous liberal party, now full of lefties, is totally to blame.
    Has been for years.

  9. nb

    Pravda survey shows 100% of people who agree with us agree with us. Soviet economy on firm ground.

  10. Iampeter

    It’s not that there’s a need, it’s just that there is nothing else to do since the political battle has been so thoroughly won by the left.

    I know people whose only source of news is Their ABC and the Age. You can guess what their world view is of Trump, conservatives in general, climate change, social justice etc.

    So?
    What does that have to do with anything?
    Conservatives are the ones that created this mess in the first place, from the EPA, to our very own climate office.
    In fact the people who seem to have the most distorted view of conservatives is conservatives.

    Talking about the ABC is just evading pretty bug problems.

  11. billie

    Their ABC is currently running an article on Germany getting out of coal, further down you see it’s coal mining. As if getting out of coal mining is getting out of coal.

    It’s not, they are closing the underground black coal, coal mines because they open cut lignite, or brown coal. Germany is the world’s largest producer of lignite..

    The ABC is lying by omission.

    Had to correct a few people on this and when they looked into it, were shocked the ABC is being so divisive.

    Germany has shut down its nuclear plants and now has to get power from somewhere, usually across borders from .. nuclear power, but that’s not enough, they still need more power and are building coal fired plants again.

  12. Rafe Champion

    Not quite on topic but I want to report on the wind without doing a separate post. The Cat server can get overloaded with posts if they come too thick and fast.

    This morning at 9 Wind was providing 4.5% of the power being drawn in SE Australia. Over the last week it has probably not topped 10% . I record 9am and 6.30pm to reflect the morning and evening peaks.

    Mostly it has been under 5%. Still Perry Williams in The Australian is worried about ageing power plants.

  13. Rafe Champion

    Good work billie, just keep working on the margins, one thing at a time!

  14. hzhousewife

    I am amused that all contingencies discussed appear to be for warming, no-one seems to consider that the change in climate may be towards cooling. I get very blank looks when mentioning this in polite company, change only seems to go one way, temperature increase.

  15. hzhousewife

    This morning at 9 Wind was providing 4.5% of the power being drawn in SE Australia. Over the last week it has probably not topped 10% .

    South Australians would naturally conclude that all they need to do is build ten times as many wind farms, and then they will be able to support 100% of the state.

  16. Roger

    The ABC is lying by omission.

    And we pay them handsomely to do it.

    The revolution is being subsidised.

  17. C.L.

    Great post, Pyrmonter.

    The ABC has been strip-mining this ridiculous “national survey” for months.

  18. I_am_not_a_robot

    The Australia Talks surveys are as reliable an indicator of general population sentiments as the vocal reactions of audiences on Q & A to anyone foolish enough to appear who is not of the Left.

  19. Used to regularly watch Insiders, Q&A and The Drum.

    Have not watched either for quite a while now. Just too predicable with the hosts, guests and Q&A audience too heavily biased to the left.

    Q&A was a question of waiting for the conservative, usually Government Minister, panellist to be ambushed by a “gotcha” question but never seemed to happen to those on the left. Quite often a simple Google search would reveal the bias / dodgy background of the questioner that the Q&A team never discovered or knew but chose not to reveal. It was the gotchas that made the newspapers / TV sound bites the next day. Then there is the over representation on panels by the ROP. Or musicians I have never heard of lecturing us on their politics. For example Aboriginal singer Dan Sultan who has been in the news in last few days for being charged in connection with a 2008 sexual assault.

    The bias is obvious for all to see yet Ita and the Minister don’t do anything about it being a conservative free zone. Since ABC is supposed to represent the views of the people why isn’t there a conservative show / host ?
    If one was announced the ABC staff would be out protesting in outrage.

    The Govt needs to link funding to the requirement for more balance but we know that is never going to happen. Otherwise it is just a staff run propaganda machine for the left.

    Plus the staff are on very good pay deals but also get to do well paying outside work on the side.

  20. Pyrmonter:

    Why the need for spin?

    I thought that would be an easy question – Spin is meant to change the perspective of an argument. i.e. present something as different to what it is.
    Perhaps your question is a little deeper, though.

  21. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    Germany has shut down its nuclear plants and now has to get power from somewhere, usually across borders from …

    Putin, who isn’t averse to turning off the gas pipeline taps every now and then, just to let the Germans know who’s boss.

    As for the ALPBC, I’m just sick to death of its very existence.

  22. Lee

    Scrawlings on a public toilet cubicle have more credibility than an ABC survey.

  23. Iampeter

    Not quite on topic but I want to report on the wind without doing a separate post. The Cat server can get overloaded with posts if they come too thick and fast.

    Phew, good thing you posted this! It’s as critical as mentioning the ABC has a bias in every other post. Real deep stuff!
    With this kind of big brained effort surely the left’s defeat is imminent!

  24. John A

    Rafe Champion #3333201, posted on February 24, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Respectable people can think there is human-induced climate change. And that, on balance, it is a bad thing (likely more harmful the greater and the faster it is).

    What balance makes you think climate change is a bad thing? Check out the Little Ice Age.

    What credible evidence is there for any warming-induced harm in recent decades?

    Real science and plenty of evidence indicates that things will get better with all the warming we can expect for the rest of the century. And consider the most obvious benefit of CO2 (plant food).

    Just look at the population distribution by latitude across the globe. It is clear that humanity prefers warmth to cold, and it takes a lot of hardy endurance to withstand the polar climate.

    Antarctica is bigger than Australia/Oceania and Europe, and a bit over half the size of North America. But has almost no population, and no permanent economically viable settlements.

    QED

  25. H B Bear

    I have always regarded the ALPBC and The Ponds Institute as impeccable sources.

  26. duncanm

    Given the survey can be completed by anyone, any number of times, it is extremely easy to corrupt.

    I just lodged some dud results myself – I suggest everyone do the same:
    https://australiatalks.abc.net.au/

  27. duncanm

    John A
    #3333506, posted on February 24, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    It is clear that humanity prefers warmth to cold, and it takes a lot of hardy endurance to withstand the polar climate.

    The mid latitudes seem the best, so there’s plenty of scope to move either way if the climate shifts : https://visual.ly/community/Infographics/geography/worlds-population-2000-latitude-and-longitude

  28. egg_

    Respectable people can think there is…

    A hole in the Ozone layer and we’re all gonna fry! (In the Southern Hemisphere only, oddly).
    The UN Ozone Secretariat is CAGW Mk I, mach schnell!

    The birth of the Gaia hypothesis from James Lovelock (has he walked “the hole” back? gone back on his research?)

    /Yawn

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