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Node, I think that Luke Harding is a useful idiot, scared out of his wits about Russia and Russians by his secret service contacts. I think that David Aaronovitch is so wedded to the opinions he shares with neoconservatives, neoliberals and the Israeli Right that he can’t see past the end of his nose. I think the structure of the corporate media elevates them, thereby inflating their egos, amplifying their feelings of being correct. So yes I think they’re probably sincere. Sincerely wrong. But I don’t know, and I can’t read their thoughts to find out.
But as SA said, this is corporate media journalism, not science. Unless they actually libel someone (and the organisations they work for have legal staff protecting them from that), they never have to retract, so their egos are never subjected to the correctional influence of having to admit wrongness and say sorry.
Science is far from perfect, and I very much support those including Ioannidis and Goldacre who work to improve it. But every paper published has to pass peer review, and once published it will receive critical scrutiny in the literature. If significant flaws are found it will be retracted, and scientists caught faking data are discredited. This is a level of scrutiny and professional integrity way beyond anything in the corporate media. And then, the work has to integrate with the rest of science into a unified whole.
The corporate media structure and its influence on large audiences work to inflate egos thereby amplifying claims regardless of accuracy, whereas the scientific community and its system of publication work to train egos to subjugate themselves to evidence.
We’ve seen this play out with the arrival of Wikipedia, which provided a publicly sourced check on both science and the corporate media. The pro-war propagandists were forced to develop covert systems like “Philip Cross” and the Integrity Initiative, because corporate media propaganda was seen to be increasingly at odds with Wikipedia. The opposite happened with global warming denial; scientific sources were cited, correcting the bullshit that was accumulating from the FUD industry. One of my actions at Wikipedia actually figured in this process; it was me that flagged up the Alisher Usmanov page, which subsequently led to a review of practices in the PR industry, and increased vigilance at Wikipedia. I’d be grateful if you’d apologise for your earlier accusation that I’m useless and know nothing about the world.