For example, a week ago Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, gave an interview to the BBC that was widely described as a debacle. The main reason was that the BBC reporter asked Mr Jones whether he would concede that global warming since 1995 has not been statistically significant. Mr Jones replied: “Yes, but only just,” and went on to note that there was a measured global warming of 0.12°C per decade since then, and that it tends to be harder to get statistical significance out of shorter time samples.
This led to a Daily Mail headline reading: “Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995.”
Since I’ve advocated a more explicit use of the word “lie”, I’ll go ahead and follow my own advice: that Daily Mail headline is a lie. Phil Jones did not say there had been no global warming since 1995; he said the opposite. He said the world had been warming at 0.12°C per decade since 1995. However, over that time frame, he could not quite rule out at the traditional 95% confidence level that the warming since 1995 had not been a random fluke.
Anyone who has even a passing high-school familiarity with statistics should understand the difference between these two statements.
See, Mr. Yulsman, Mr. Kloor, that is how to do it.
Also, the Economist article quotes a commenter lamenting:
Rather than ‘taking a stance’, newspapers should do [a] better job of describing the nuances of scientific findings. I know I’m being delusional, though. I mean, how many science/engineering graduates go into journalism?
I see no reason in principle why people trained in science should not do journalism.
In practice, the jobs have always been better in science, of course, even though working conditions in both areas have been in rapid decline of late. In terms of value added to society, though, it seems to me that journalism has enormous economic importance. If there were a reliable way for journalists to capture a fraction of their added value, science and technology journalism would be practiced by people with substantial training in their subject areas.