Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Refuses to Correct Misleading Statement on Global Warming

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

Scott Martelle of the L.A. Times recently began a piece on global warming with this statement:

Here’s a statistic for you. Out of 10,855 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals last year that dealt with some aspect of global warming, all but two accepted human behavior as the primary cause.

I published a post demonstrating that this was inaccurate. Martelle’s source, James Powell, reviewed abstracts of over 10,000 peer-reviewed articles that mentioned climate change or global warming — but he never claimed that all but two accepted human behavior as the primary cause” of global warming. Instead, he said that only two “rejected” it.

The distinction was critical, Powell never claimed that these articles all discussed the cause of global warming — and it is clear that many of the articles did not even address the premise that humans are the primary cause of global warming. Many of the articles, bearing names like “Life Cycle Assessment in Switchgears for Primary Electrical Distribution” or “Larval development of the feline lungworm Aelurostrongylus abstrusus in Helix aspersa,” mentioned global warming only in passing, and didn’t even pretend to address whether it was primarily caused by humans. So while these articles may not have “rejected” the notion that global warming is caused by humans, they certainly did not “accept” it — because they never addressed the issue.

I wrote Martelle and asked for a correction. He wrote me back this morning and has refused. Here is his email:

Hi, Patrick:

Thanks for the email, and the interest. I went back and looked at the original source and my wording, and while I recognize there may be a hair to split here, it doesn’t strike me as an error. I could have worded it better to make the context clearer, but to not reject is tacit acceptance. Others have raised your argument in the comments below the blog post, so that alternate view is represented.


(My emphasis.) Here is the email I have sent in response:

Mr. Martelle,

“To not reject” is not “tacit acceptance” if it is based on silence — in other words, if one has not addressed the issue at all. This morning’s L.A. Times editorials did not reject the idea that Joseph Stalin’s purges were morally justified. May I conclude that the editorial board “tacitly accepts” the morality of Stalin’s mass murder?

Less dramatically and more to the point: I demonstrated, in my email to you and in my blog post, that there are many articles reviewed by James Powell that do not address at all the issue of whether humans are primarily responsible for global warming. Here is one such article: LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT OF LEAD ACID BATTERY. CASE STUDY FOR THAILAND.

It’s true that this article does not reject the notion that humans are the primary cause of global warming. But it also does not reject the notion that non-human activity is the primary cause of global warming. Therefore, by your logic, the article “tacitly accepts” that non-human activity is the primary cause of global warming!

Indeed, by your logic, the article “tacitly accepts” two completely inconsistent premises — that humans are, and are not, the primary cause of global warming — by examining and mentioning neither premise.

I would not be surprised if hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of these articles reviewed by Powell “tacitly accept” the notion that humans are not the primary cause of global warming, by that same logic.

You say this is hairsplitting. That is a convenient way to avoid correcting an error, but it does not withstand scrutiny. Imagine if an editorial writer employed your logic to bolster a premise you consider questionable, rather than one that you take for granted. Say, for example, that a draft editorial said: “A review of 100 speeches by Obama shows that he accepts the notion that states have the right to secede.” The writer offers as proof that Obama has never rejected that notion, so he “tacitly accepted” it.

Would you vote to attach the L.A. Times name to that opinion, based on that logic?

I believe readers were substantially misled by your statement. I am disappointed that you have been shown the flaw in your statement and still refuse to correct it. Any fair-minded person who runs across this exchange will trust you and the Los Angeles Times a little less. And they should — if you allow such misleading statements to stand.

Patrick Frey

I expect this is the end of it, but if I hear anything else, I will let you know.

34 Responses to “L.A. Times Refuses to Correct Misleading Statement on Global Warming”

  1. Honesty has no seat at the table when discussing global warming with leftists.

    JD (f87acf)

  2. He’ll just add you to his blocked email list and assume you tacitly accept his position.

    DejectedHead (a094a6)

  3. The LAT tacitly accepts that it is a-ok to lie in service of liberal causes.

    JVW (9946b6)

  4. Unfortunately for the LA Times, Southern California residents have other choices to get informed. Every day the Times is less relevant than the day before.

    aunursa (7014a8)

  5. Tell him what’s wrong is the number of such studies, and also therefore the proportion pro and con.

    Also, this is mostly a truism. Because this is now sort of established as the consensus, and the armosts have control or strong influence over the peer review process, as some of leaked e-mails a few ears ago indicated, no article that does not focus on whether or not the proposition that global warming has other causes, could ever pass peer review – you don’t casually disagree with received wisdom.

    And even one that did, would have to take the most minimal negative position consistent with their findings.

    Sammy Finkelman (3bf07f)

  6. Breaking News:

    In over 5,000 articles, the LA Times has “accepted” the fact that President Obama is the worst President since Millard Filmore.*

    *Footnote: There are over 5,000 articles, probably more, published by the LA times that “tacitly accept” this premise by not discussing it.

    Ryan (60001b)

  7. They didn’t explicitly write that they were not going to send me money, so I’m waiting by my mailbox for the check.

    Pious Agnostic (7eb3b0)

  8. LA Times correct the holy narrative? (Cue Bill Cosby) RI-I-I-GHT!

    MikeHs (1a2353)

  9. LAT tacitly accepts the proposition that the tens of thousands of child molestations that happen each and every year have been committed by Senate Majority leader Hairy Reid.

    Colonel Haiku (ec903e)

  10. Mr. Maryellen tacitly accepts the need to dissemble and exaggerate, because the plain truth isn’t effective enough to support a cherished article of faith. He writes like a creationist, in the worst sense.

    SarahW (267b14)

  11. Maryellen? Auto correct has a tacit understanding of suitable names.

    SarahW (267b14)

  12. What a tool. Unless you say “Hell no, that’s utter crapola”, you are “tacitly accepting” some bullshit premise?

    Patrick you’re a District Attorney who goes into courtrooms chasing (alleged) criminals. I use the word “alleged” here because that’s what the LA Times wienies would want.

    How about requiring defense counsel to prove “hell no, those criminal charges are utter crapola” before a criminal defendant could be found not guilty. Would make your life as a prosecutor easier would it not?

    Skeptical Voter (12e67d)

  13. The True Believers will not be dissuaded.

    “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts.”

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  14. Isn’t it ironic that the Times, and every other site on the internet, has disabled the “no” vote in their comment sections, thus removing the only legitimate vehicle for people to actually “tacitly object” to misinformation presented by State media.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  15. When applied through Obamacare, the doctor will tacitly refuse to perform needed heart surgery, so it’s not like he’s killing people due to unworkable economics and “death panel” verdicts.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  16. Dear Scott Martelle,

    Your industry requires cutting down trees for paper in order to print lies about global warming and carbon emissions.
    Why do you hate trees ?
    And why does your employer continue to cut them down for profit ?


    A Global Warming Denier

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  17. Patterico, you gave Martelle a fair opportunity to correct an obviously gross overreach, he declined and continues to push the intellectually dishonest lie with an even greater level of smug contempt for truth and accuracy than Candy Crowley displayed during the Presidential Debates.

    Martelle’s arrogantly betrayed his profession, he’s squandered his credibility, and he seems strangely proud of it.

    ropelight (b33d98)

  18. You can lead the ignorant to knowledge, but you cannot make them think. Scott Martelle and the LAT continue on the path to irrelevance.

    By the way, the LAT tacitly accepts that they are biased because they didn’t explicitly say that they are not.

    Bill M (c8f413)

  19. The LA Times does Goebbels one better.

    If you print an indirect reference to a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

    Amphipolis (d3e04f)

  20. nice to see that, in a world of constant change, the LA Slimes does whatever it needs to in order to maintain it’s preeminent place in the pantheon of willfully dishonest propaganda dissemination.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  21. Give them a break guys! It’s hard to push the Progressive narrative when its snowing in Florida and every other day records record cold numbers.

    Mike Giles (760480)

  22. But, Mike, it always snows in FL during the Spring.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  23. “President Obama is the worst President since Millard Filmore.”

    What was the matter with Fillmore ?

    In Congress, he opposed admitting Texas as a slave territory, he advocated internal improvements and a protective tariff, he supported John Quincy Adams by voting to receive anti-slavery petitions, he advocated the prohibition by Congress of the slave trade between the states, and he favored the exclusion of slavery from the District of Columbia

    Furthermore, When Fillmore took office, the entire cabinet offered their resignations. Fillmore accepted them all and appointed men who, except for Treasury Secretary Thomas Corwin, favored the Compromise of 1850.[21] When the compromise finally came before both Houses of Congress, it was very watered down. As a result, Fillmore urged Congress to pass the original bill. This move only provoked an enormous battle where “forces for and against slavery fought over every word of the bill.”[21] To Fillmore’s disappointment the bitter battle over the bill crushed public support.[21] Clay, exhausted, left Washington to recuperate, passing leadership to Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. At this critical juncture, President Fillmore announced his support of the Compromise of 1850.

    That put off the Civil War by ten years.

    Not a bad record compared to what we have now.

    MikeK (cd7278)

  24. “President Obama is the worst President since Millard Filmore.”

    Does the name “Carter” ring a bell?

    At least old Millard took his stand regarding something a tad more significant than f&$%#g up the health insurance world.

    Gramps, the original (8c018c)

  25. I could have worded it better to make the context clearer, but to not reject is tacit acceptance.

    “Well, I guess I could have told her up front what I wanted from her, but she didn’t say ‘no’, just said some rot about ‘please have anything in my purse’ which didn’t make no sense to me…I wasn’t after money. So I guess that means she wanted it.”

    Others have raised your argument in the comments below the blog post, so that alternate view is represented

    “Well, some guys pulled me offa her after a while, so I guess there’s no need for me to do any reparation for a little misunderstanding.”

    rtrski (c69273)

  26. I find it fascinating that the L.A. times is in favor of a Minnesota law lowering the drinking age to 12, another lowering the age of sexual consent to 10, and still another that calls for the end of all Minnesota firearms laws.

    htom (412a17)

  27. htom #25 – you exaggerate a tad … a more accurate phrasing, per Mr Martelle would be –

    “I find it fascinating that the L.A. Times tacitly accepts a Minnesota law lowering the drinking age to 12, another lowering the age of sexual consent to 10, and still another that calls for the end of all Minnesota firearms laws.”

    Alastor (e7cb73)

  28. Worse Presidents than Millard Fillmore:

    Andrew Johnson
    Woodrow Wilson
    Lyndon Johnson
    Richard Nixon
    Jimmy Carter
    Bill Clinton

    JVW (9946b6)

  29. I cancelled the Times months ago. Recently, my news delivery person has been adding the Times to my morning delivery of other papers. He says it’s to allow me a chance to decide whether I want to start subscribing again. The Times has never asked me if I’d pay for a new subscription, so it has never rejected the idea of free LATimes forever. Therefore, it must have tacitly accepted the proposition that I could receive the paper free for as long as I wish.
    And just for the record, it still is as bad as I remember. Will not be subscribing as long as articles like Scott’s continue to appear.
    Thanks Patrick, for doing yeoman’s work to expose the lack of integrity at the Times.

    Kyle (9d9e73)

  30. the only occasion our house gets the Slimes any more is when the distribution company hires a new flojo to w*rk our area.

    we’re supposed to get the WSJ & the Green Sheet, but, when someone goes on vacation or gets replaced, there’s no telling what we’ll get: LAT, NYT, Man/Boy Love Weekly… anything’s possible.

    except, of course, for the papers to be honest, unbiased and informative… 😎

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  31. Again, I’ll bet they didn’t read more than the first line or two of the letter. Their heretic-filter wouldn’t let them read further.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  32. JVW,

    I wouldn’t mind having Mallard Fillmore as President.
    He may be merely a political cartoon duck, but he’s definitely not a quack.

    Elephant Stone (108847)

  33. 22. Comment by MikeK (cd7278) — 3/31/2014 @ 1:22 pm

    That put off the Civil War by ten years.

    No, the Compromise of 1850 – and what followed it – caused the Civil War. You had the Fugitive Slave Act. Then you had the Kansas Nebraska Act in 1854. Then the Dred Scott decision which declared the Missouri Compromise of 1820 unconstitutional.

    If Zachary Taylor had lived slavery would have been on the way out – maybe not as decisiveley as it actually ended – and there would have been no Civil War – the attempt to secede didn’t have to have the same outcome. It is possible he was killed – by being poisoned with cholera germs, something only some people in the south understood. It’s never made sense to me why someone should suppose him poisoned by arsenic – I assume that there must be some reason to suppose that some human being had a deliberate hand in it, and the way is obviously how he in fact died.

    On a scorching Fourth of July in Washington, D.C., Taylor attended festivities at the newly dedicated grounds upon which the Washington Monument would be erected. According to several sources, Taylor gulped down a large quantity of cherries and iced milk and then returned to the White House, where he quenched his thirst with several glasses of water.

    His doctor “diagnosed the illness as cholera morbus, a flexible mid–nineteenth-century term for intestinal ailments as diverse as diarrhea and dysentery but not related to Asiatic cholera,” the latter being a widespread epidemic at the time of Taylor’s death.[70] The identity and source of Taylor’s illness are the subject of historical speculation (see below), although it is known that several of his cabinet members had come down with a similar illness.[71]

    There is, however, the argument it really was arsenic, and that they tested a whole hair when it should have been just near the scalp and that the only thing disproven was gradual poisoning.

    In Taylor’s case, the timing appears to suggest contamination by Salmonella or some similar microbe. If it wasn’t in the cherries, then perhaps the water used to wash them. Or the unpasteurized milk. Or the green apples. Or the previous day’s lunch. Whatever the source, it probably was aggravated by the hot weather, by Washington’s open, fly-infested sewers.

    And, like other Presidents, Taylor’s fate was probably sealed by his doctor’s ill-conceived “treatments.”

    In any event, Taylor is probably not the only American President felled by foodborne illness. His predecessor, James K. Polk, died of cholera and “debilitating diarrhea” a few weeks after leaving the White House. Thomas Jefferson appears to have died of amoebic dysentery. Several Presidents, including James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, are believed to have succumbed to tuberculosis, which can be transmitted via air or food….

    Taylor’s death, however, remained something of a mystery, kept alive by descendants and others who insisted he must have been poisoned by southerners who were angered by Taylor’s moderate stance on slavery

    Wikipedia links to

    Sammy Finkelman (fb61e5)

  34. Last line copied to wrong window.

    Sammy Finkelman (fb61e5)

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