UPDATE: Brendan O’Neill, has criticised this post in Spiked, I reply to him here.
UPDATE - to complain AFTER the programme has been transmitted, you should send the complaints to OFCOM here. Please do complain, and please do publicise this link and ask others to complain.
I was going to write something about the film Channel 4 are showing on Thursday called “The Great Climate Warming Swindle”, because this is made by Martin Durkin, who was behind the critically and scientifically mauled series “Against Nature”, also shown on Channel 4. Not only is Durkin's point of view totally unrepresentative of any serious scientific opinion, but his previous programmes have been manipulative, and distorted the views of eminent scientists.
You can complain to Channel 4 by filling in this form, it is well worth doing so if they get a number of complaints then they will find it harder to commission future programmes from Durkin.
When I started to write I found that the topic had already been covered brilliantly over at the Irish blog, Cedar Lounge. So I will just quote from them!
In particular Cedar Lounge highlights the link with the secret British libertarian sect, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). The story has also been picked up by Green blogger, Paul Kingsnorth, who amusingly imagines what the Channel 4 commissioning meeting was like.
As Cedar Lounge reports:
“Martin Durkin has quite a track record in this kind of programme. George Monbiot writes about him here, pointing to his some of his previous output including a report on how silicone implants reduce the risk of breast cancer (initially proposed to the BBC’s Horizon but dropped when the commissioned researcher contradicted the claims, then shown by Channel 4), a series (again for Channel 4) called Against Nature, which essentially argued that environmentalists were proto-Nazis out to control the world (which misrepresented the views of many of those interviewed, for which Channel 4 was forced to apologise) and a programme (once again, Channel 4) on genetically-modified foodstuffs which one of the participants described as having “rendered great disservice to science generally and to the scientific debate on GM-food particularly“. For someone with no scientific background, one has to wonder how Martin Durkin keeps being commissioned for programmes like these. Or, as Private Eye wrote at the time “What does Channel 4 do with programme makers condemned by the TV watchdog,the Independent Television Commission (ITC), for using underhand editing techniques? The answer is, er, hire them to make another programme.”
“One intriguing element to the whole affair is the link to the Revolutionary Communist Party, also known as the Living Marxism group, also known as the Institute of Ideas, also known as Spiked Online, also known as Sense About Science. Phew! It’s hard to keep up, even for an ex-DL member, so for an introduction to the bizarre and murky world of this sect which went so far left it came out the other side, check out George Monbiot’s pieces and ‘The Revolution has been Televised‘ and ‘Invasion of the Entryists‘, as well as Nick Cohen’s ‘The rebels who changd their tune to be pundits‘. All of these pieces highlight the role played by RCP members and friends in Durkin’s films and, while it isn’t claimed that Durkin is a member of the RCP, an article on the group by What Next states that “The day after (a piece on Against Nature appeared in The Guardian), the paper reported Martin Durkin, the Against Nature producer, saying that the RCP had been dissolved a year previously. Not known as an RCP member or supporter, it’s not clear how he was privy to such information”.
“It’s hard to do justice to the sheer strangeness of the ideology behind this group in its various guises. Essentially, it presents an uber-libertarian view of the world, where everything suggestive of state intervention in private lives, or which might limit scientific exploration or experimentation to any degree is charged with being ‘politically-correct’ or totalitarian, part of a creeping statism which aims to control the actions of everyone on the planet. Whatever you’re for, these professional controversialists will be against it.”
The most worrying thing for me is how the now underground RCP have managed to insinuate themselves into the establishment scientific debates, promoting an entirely ideologically driven agenda overriding the scientific evidence, like modern day Lysenkoists. There is an expose of their methods on the GM watch site. They have even received funds from the ESPRC government research funding body, and RCP idealogist Frank Furedi, allegedly advertised for funding from supermarkets so that he could promote Genetically Modified products to their customers!
As I have argued before, there is a warning for the left here. We must of course accept that our current scientific understanding is incomplete and only an approximation to truth-likeness, but we must also have a philosophical acceptance that the actually existing physical world has its dynamic independent of our understanding of it. We must not impose our ideologiocal preferences onto what truth we will and will not accept. The RCP, as modern day Lysenkoists, are the worst culprits, however I have met comrades from many traditions who for example rule out a priori any evidence of genetic infleunce on human behaviour - whereas while socialists are correctly predisposed towards social explanations we can accept that both biological and social factors are at play - let's see what the evidence tells us.