Should newspapers ban climate deniers like Reddit’s science forum? | Environment | theguardian.com

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Here’s an interesting one, from the Graun: Should newspapers ban climate deniers like Reddit’s science forum? In short, the argument goes that, since deniers can’t really back up their arguments with scientific data, and frequently take their views from extremely biased sources (e.g. funded by oil companies), they’ve been banned from Reddit’s science forum. And it turns out that most of the crappy postings were coming from a tiny minority.

Like our commenters, professional climate change deniers have an outsized influence in the media and the public. And like our commenters, their rejection of climate science is not based on an accurate understanding of the science but on political preferences and personality. As moderators responsible for what millions of people see, we felt that to allow a handful of commenters to so purposefully mislead our audience was simply immoral.

What struck me about this was that the BBC should take heed, too. The Beeb has this infuriating habit of “balancing” its news coverage with just such ignorant, unscientific, unsupported views, on the basis that it can’t be biased. But the question (as always) is whether the BBC has a duty to be unbiased towards two sides of a ridiculous debate (giving equal weight to the idiots/liars) or whether it has a duty to be unbiased towards the truth. Or, put another way, unbiased towards the weight of scientific evidence.

This idea has come up recently in another context, in George Monbiot’s campaign to force the BBC to acknowledge when its contributors are being paid by a lobbying organisation, pressure group, or industry body to have an opinion. This was prompted by a recent “debate” around the question of plain paper packaging for cigarettes. The BBC interviewed a spokesperson from a “think tank” which of course gets at least some of its funding from tobacco companies, a fact that the BBC did not acknowledge when introducing the piece.

For the BBC, they were simply looking to provide the illusion of a debate, when in fact the only people who want tobacco companies not to be regulated are, you know, tobacco companies. The question of how these people sleep at night is never discussed.

via Should newspapers ban climate deniers like Reddit’s science forum? | Environment | theguardian.com.

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The Download Hits Middle Age (and It Shows) | Billboard

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The digital download hit middle age in 2013. Although retirement may be far in the future, the download is getting pushed aside as consumers opt to experience music in other ways.

Digital purchases are down almost across the board this year. Track sales are down 4.4% through Nov. 24, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Track-equivalent albums, where 10 tracks equal one album, are down 2.1%. Total digital purchases — tracks and digital albums — are down 4%.

Track sales have been falling all year. In the first half of 2013, U.S. consumers bought between 23 million and 25 million tracks per week. In October and November, weekly track sales dropped below 20 million.

Read more The Download Hits Middle Age (and It Shows) | Billboard.

via daringfireball

Twitter reinstates its blocking function after user backlash | Technology | theguardian.com

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The social media site was earlier on Friday was accused of reducing the power of blocking people to simply “muting” them with their revisions. The new policy meant a blocked user could follow and interact with the person who blocked them, but notifications of the activity would be invisible to the blocker. As part of the changes a person was also no longer made aware if they had been blocked.

A Twitter spokesman told media earlier on Friday that the new policy was to prevent retribution which they noticed was sometimes being carried out by people who were angry at being blocked.

But they have now reverted back to the old ways.

via Twitter reinstates its blocking function after user backlash | Technology | theguardian.com.

Doctor Who takes fight to the Daleks and Cybermen – and critics of BBC | Television & radio | The Guardian

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The BBC’s controller of drama commissioning, Ben Stephenson, said Saturday\’s episode, the culmination of a week of programmes around the Saturday teatime series, was a celebration not just of Doctor Who but of the BBC itself.

The corporation has long been targeted by the Tory party whose chairman, Grant Shapps, warned last month that it could lose some of the licence fee, the first shots in a debate about the future of the BBC ahead of the renewal of its royal charter in 2016.

But it has also come under fire from one of its most respected presenters, Question Time host David Dimbleby, who this week suggested it was \”too powerful for its own good\”, echoing concerns of its former executive and Olympics supremo Roger Mosey, who earlier this month questioned the need for BBC3 and BBC4.

via Doctor Who takes fight to the Daleks and Cybermen – and critics of BBC | Television & radio | The Guardian.

Blurred Lines: the most controversial song of the decade | Music | The Guardian

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This week, University College London student union (UCLU) took the unusual step of banning a single song, Robin Thicke\’s Blurred Lines. It joins around 20 other UK student unions to do so. This is the latest development in the story of how the biggest song of the year became the most controversial of the decade: an unprecedented achievement, though not one that fills Thicke with pride.

via Blurred Lines: the most controversial song of the decade | Music | The Guardian.