Sunday, January 06, 2013

Group think and 1984, Oz-style ...

(Above: more Nicholson here).

It's the little things that get the pond's weekend goat, get the pond salivating, and Tony Walker managed to set the juices running in the weekend AFR with his meditations in The ABCs of election-year skirmish (behind the paywall so there's no need to take your blood pressure medication).

Along with noting the bleeding obvious - that the forces of darkness and the minions of Tony Abbott and The Australian and the whole pack of baying Murdoch hounds are going to give the ABC a hard time this year - Walker offered up these insights:

Commentators in The Australian have latched on to a speech given by then chairman Maurice Newman to senior members of the ABC in which he accused the organisation of "group think" on issues relating to climate change.

Uh huh. Well we all remember the flurry of floozies unleashed by Newman back in March 2010 (ABC Chairman criticises media's climate change coverage) as the dissembling Newman presented himself as an "agnostic", which is to say he's found no compelling evidence in relation to climate science proposing that something might be afoot in the world's climate. That's agnostic in the sense that the result is deeply sceptical ...

But then Walker says this:

Newman was, from all accounts, an effective chairman. He had every right to challenge assumptions on such a vexed issue as global warming, whose science is far from settled.

Yep, roll that one around on your tongue, as if savouring a fine vintage port.

The science, agrees Walker, is far from settled. And let the how and the why of that insight remain unexplained, like a tossed aside or a tossed salad or the thoughts of a tosser.

Which leads to a strange contradiction in his next par:

But legitimate questions might be raised about him doing so publicly, given reasonable expectations of at least the appearance of editorial independence under his jurisdiction.

Say what?

It's okay for a chairman to stay silent when a small but secret and very powerful group have captured the ABC and its coverage of climate change - a cunning band of group thinkers, charlatans, knaves, hypnotists and mesmerists - who, right at this momen,t might be bringing to fruition a vast international conspiracy involving black helicopters to ensure that this is the year the United Nations establishes a world government?

Or at the very least arranges for fat cat cheques to be dumped into the bank accounts of a vast array of corrupt scientists who have invented the science as a way of defrauding governments and innocent duped taxpayers so they can stay on tenure in their fat cat bureaucratic nooks and crannies like leeches draining the world dry (the real explanation of why it's a hot dry summer) ...

Walker's the sort of half-baked analyst who utterly fails to have any convictions as he bends over backwards in an attempt to portray himself as fair and reasonable and balanced.

As for "agnostic" Newman, he's routinely off with the pixies, as readers might recall when in December 2012 there was vast indignation at the lizard Oz when the ABC rejected a complaint by Newman, reported as It's OK to link climate denial to pedophilia, ABC tells ex-chairman Maurice Newman. (behind the paywall so you don't have to get that second script for blood pressure filled).

Mr Newman said he was the first person to admit he was not a scientist and described himself as a human-induced climate change "agnostic". "I considered the report to be defamatory because it went on to discuss me personally and an opinion piece I'd written comparing some in the climate change camp to religious believers," he said. "In lumping me in with despicable flat-earthers, they also, through their introduction, likened people like us to pedophiles and drug-pushers." 

 An ABC spokeswoman said the complaint was dismissed because the editorial context of the segment was reasonable, meaning "harm and offence" was justified.

Yep, Newman sees nothing wrong with lumping climate scientists into a camp of religious believers, which includes silly Pellists, angry Sydney Anglicans, wild-eyed Taliban fundamentalists who want to shoot innocent girls in search of an education, and Scientologists who routinely fail to get clear, yet he gets agitated about being lumped in with "despicable flat-earthers".

When after all, despicable flat-earthers are really only scientific agnostics, waiting for that acceptable scientific evidence that the world is round ... they're still to discover said evidence but are able to understand that some round earthers tend to sound like religious believers.

It's the same awful scientific dilemma faced by intelligent designers and creationists ... really ...

What a sensitive possum Mr. Newman is.

We've yet to hear from Mr. Newman regarding James Delingpole's sensitive remark, If Jimmy Savile were alive today he would definitely be heavily into wind farming. (here)

Yes, it seems pedophiles are heavily into clean energy.

Meanwhile, The Australian, which found itself in hot water for publishing a piece by Delingpole, makes the bold claim that it's the right of the rag to publish the thoughts of cranks:

Delingpole's article made the contentious claim that wind farms cause several medical conditions in humans and animals and the farms' development is subsidised by a "scam" involving excessively generous benefits under the federal government's renewable energy certificate scheme. Not everybody would agree. 

No, not everybody would agree, in fact the opinions were scurrilous and wrong, and you might wonder why a rag would publish this sort of nonsense. So here's why:

But that is not the point, as we argued in our submission to the Press Council: "Opinion (or comment) is not the sole preserve of the majority of the public . . . A fundamental basis of our democratic system is that the enthusiast, the crank, the minority may say what he honestly thinks just as much as the so-called reasonable person. It would be a lamentable day for free speech if the proposed test in this adjudication were applied, namely a test of whether the mainstream agrees with the comment rather than the real test that should apply." The Press Council acknowledged that The Australian has published other articles and letters, before and after Delingpole's piece, in support of wind farms. (here, outside the paywall, have you checked your blood pressure before you click on the link?)

And there you have it.

The Australian, by its own hand, is a home for enthusiasts and cranks and unreasonable, perhaps even irrational, people ... and James Delingpole and Maurice Newman tilting at windmills ...

And naturally that god forsaken, hopelessly confused justification of the paper's publishing of cranks and enthusiasts and unreasonable people concludes with a recommendation that advocates of government-funded control should slip a copy of  Orwell's 1984 in their beach bag this summer.

Not another bloody reference to Orwell and 1984! It's now way worse than the usual Godwin's Law breaches ...

And meanwhile Maurice Newman is yammering on about how a small but powerful group has captured the ABC with group think.

Does he ever care to consider what small but powerful group has captured The Australian?

Never mind, there must be a way of avoiding Jim Spigelman's hair splitting between "group think" and "tribal loyalty" (here on Lateline) which was used by Walker to round out his piece with words verging on gibberish, and a reference to Thomas Becket:

The ABC's critics might not see the difference but, as an election year was pending, what he was warning against was a tendency of large organisations to circle the wagons against legitimate questioning of their activities, editorial or otherwise ...

Is this some cryptic commentary on The Australian, which routinely circles the wagons and conducts crusades for angry old white males? Of course not:

In this, Spigelman find himself identifying with Thomas Becket in his querying of the royal prerogatives of those in power, in that case Henry 11. Becket was assassinated for his troubles.

Yes it's death to the ABC, and let The Australian get on with the business of publishing enthusiasts, cranks and unreasonable thoughts from unreasonable people.

Which is why, if it please m'lud, the pond would now like to enter into the digital record as evidence yesterday's digital front page of The Australian, or at least the main top page portion thereof (click to enlarge, no hot links screen gaps only, but you know how to google):

So many exclusives in bright red, so little time.

Does anyone at the rag pause to contemplate how silly it looks, how desperate and pitiful it seems, how contrived to get the punter to fork over the readies for a digital pass, and how it's about as convincing and credible as someone explaining to the pond that it's the winner of a beauty contest?

Does anyone at the rag ever pause to think that the news that aboriginal children being jailed is some kind of exclusive, as if the higher jailing of indigenous people hasn't been a feature of the justice system for decades?

But it does propose a theme for 2013.

That 1984 has already arrived and is long past, in real and ethereal mind time, and its chief proponent and exponent is Rupert Murdoch and his minions, operating in the la la land of group think "exclusives" ...

Speaking of group think, remember when Lord Monckton described Maurice Newman as a 'shrimp-like wet individual' in a speech given in Melbourne (here)?

And remember when all the deep group thinking members of the Murdoch press commentariat faithfully scribbled down and regurgitated all the deep thoughts of Lord Monckton on his Australian tour, as only expert group thinkers can do?

And remember when Lord Monckton showed that making comparisons to flat-eathers was completely fey and lacked robustness and showed the right way to do it by evoking Godwin's Law? And only a return to Nazi references would suffice for robust scientific debate?

Ah memories. Is Barbra Streisand in the house?

Group think
Lights the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of simple minded abuse
Scattered pictures
Of the irrational arguments we left behind
Incoherent Orwellian phrases we gave to one another
About the wind-farming way we were

Can it be that it was all so simple then
And has The Australian rewritten every line
So there'll be no chance to do it all again
Unless it's a bright red exclusive
On the group think way we are ...

Oh I know it's feeble, perhaps tragic, almost as feeble and tragic as the group think that infests The Australian ... and remember, they want you to pay to read the thoughts of enthusiasts, cranks and unreasonable people.

How cranky and unreasonable is that?


  1. Royton De'AthJan 6, 2013, 11:08:00 AM

    Ahh. Mr DrippingPole found his way into Teh Ooze. What a surprise. He's just another of a line of queue-jumping hacks from the UK that grace our shores with their incites (like me dear old mate O'Neill, B.)

    But tilting at windmills? Surely not!! Mr Delingpole's political career, taken as an Indication of Our Times, is a classic piece of the Good Ole Blue Playbook in action.

    Yep. Teh Ooze is wonderfully anoxic...

  2. DP, I don't know what's going on here any more. OK, that's not news to you, but it was starting to worry me. Until (1) realising no-one else does, either. And (2) Brian Cox (particle physics guru) pipped that post-modernism is extinct.
    I don't know what Cox means, but look at the evidence. When was the last time one of the earnest old white blokes got stuck into a floozy for being "post-modernist"? Hasn't it been a year or two?
    For a while, the tag was off to a good ride. It looked like it was the ultimate kicker and would drive the heathen back to church in droves. It didn't work on you, ay? Me, neither.
    So, where are we? Based on frequent plugs for recycling of body parts, my guess is that we are in the future already, and stuck in the past.
    We'd be better off chucking out all the known knowns, ignoring all the evidence, and strapping ourselves into an endless loop of Lana Del Rey.
    For instance, maybe Hobart has been cooked, but who's to know it wasn't a helluvalot hotter a million years ago? Climate change? Pfffffft!! and I expect to see Tim Flannery ripped to shreds on the morrow, along with a jolly good anti-vaccination rant. Oh, hang on, who makes vaccines? OK, then, a take-down of an anti-market scheme that defrauds manufacturers, such as Arunachalam Muruganantham: How I started a sanitary napkin revolution!.
    Anyway, what do you think of Penguin Books re-issues of Orwell?


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