How truth gets lost in the BBC’s search for balance | Letter

Debates on the climate crisis must be evidence-based, says Paul Hartley

What now appears to be the most important feature of public debate is that two sides of a question are presented. As George Monbiot points out (How the BBC let climate deniers walk all over it, 8 July), this has major shortcomings if we have no means of placing “two sides” in a wider context. Knowing who funds an organisation is a very small but relevant part of that context. The national broadcaster and all journalists have a responsibility to foreground the bare bones of a debate – if the weight of evidence with regard to the origins and effects of global heating is well established, then this needs to be explicit in the questioning.

Simply resetting the interview to neutral, apparently for the sake of “balance”, creates a false baseline from which we cannot assess the veracity of what is being argued. We are in a hostile environment for reasoned debate. What can we do? We can require our journalists and their organisations to help us avoid drowning in ignorance before we have even been able to make an effort to understand the challenges that we face.
Paul Hartley
Witney, Oxfordshire

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