back to article BBC: SOD the scientific consensus! Look OUT! MEGA TSUNAMI is coming

The BBC Trust has supported its programme makers in their use of old and debunked scientific conjectures to produce a "Hollywood style" environmental disaster film. In a formal decision, the operationally independent governing body of the broadcaster rejected a complaint made about the BBC Two TV "documentary", Could We …


    It's about time the BBC was stopped from putting out scarmongering nonsense like this.

    Ans clearly they aren't capable of doing it for themselves.

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: It's about time the BBC was stopped from putting out scarmongering nonsense like this.

      If only there was some impartial and impartially-funded institution whose job it was to give us unbiased information, and critical analysis without being swayed by ratings and viewing figures.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: It's about time the BBC was stopped from putting out scarmongering nonsense like this.

        They used to, but then they chucked out the impartiality and the public charter, then hired a science editor (david shukman), who, whilst possessing zero scientific qualifications and minimal experience, decided that "Minority" scientific views (anything that be refute AGW, for example) would no longer be given air-time on BBC TV or Radio. He also presided over the sham that was the BBCs "scientific panel review for AGW" which included so few scientists that it needed to be covered up and argued against in court

        Yet, he allows this pile of cobblers to be aired.

        Hey, Auntie Beeb, I think your agenda may be showing....

  2. John Lilburne

    The BBC science coverage is useless ...

    ... they don't seem to have a clue and want to convert everything into either infotainment or faux controversy.

    Scientist: The chances of X causing your child to die is 1 in a million.

    BBC: But you can't guarantee 100% that it won't!

    Scientist: We are 99.999% certain that Jesus did not ride on dinosaurs.

    BBC: But there is a chance that he did!

    This sort of rubbish made me stop listening to radio4 news.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The BBC science coverage is useless ...

      I'm 100% sure Jesus did not ride a dinosaur.

      But I'm less sure whether he had a mutant ass.

      1. bill 36

        he wasn't married either

        according to millions of people but he probably was.

        Which just goes to show that if you tell people the same story over and over again, they will believe it.

        And that's where we are with all of these catastrophe theories is it not?

      2. Badvok

        Re: The BBC science coverage is useless ...

        "I'm 100% sure Jesus did not ride a dinosaur."

        You wanna bet? Water into wine, raising the dead, walking on water, surely time-travel would not be beyond such a being's ability.

    2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: The BBC science coverage is useless ...

      But Jesus DID ride dinosaurs. Look, there are pictures, so it must be true!

      1. John Lilburne

        Re: The BBC science coverage is useless ...

        LOL. That Jesus image is the work of Derek Chatwood twas wondering if someone here would post it.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The BBC science coverage is useless ...

    4. Immenseness

      Re: The BBC science coverage is useless ...

      Always presenting the "statistics" in three meaningless and incomparable forms of precision stopped me listening.

      "In the 1980s, 30% of people did X, while in the 1990s it was 1 in 5. Now just 13 people do X."

      That, or like the recent HRT/ovarian cancer risk increase where they scarily suggest "An extra 1 in every 1000 women will get cancer if they take HRT". The baseline, in the same piece for women already known to be at risk of breast cancer through taking HRT was "just a handful per 1000".

      Mine is the one where 50% of the pockets are empty, while 1 in 2 pockets contains nothing but fluff and 1 pocket doesn't have anything in it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Hollywood style"

    Well, as the revered Lord Reith famously said 'Never let the truth get in the way of some nice CGI'.

  4. Graham Marsden

    Mega Tsunami?

    Or a storm in a teacup?

    1. Steve Crook

      Re: Mega Tsunami?

      Is it the worst thing the BBC has done? No it's not. But clearly there's a slide down hill. Perhaps this will eventually lead to a tsunami that'll engulf the BBC license fee leaving a smaller subscription service that's easier to ignore and much less dominant in the market.

      It's depressing that the trust don't seem to see the problems with this particular programme and the appallingly low bitrate of most BBC science and technology programming.

      1. Martin Budden Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Mega Tsunami?

        ...But clearly there's a slide down hill. Perhaps this will eventually lead to a tsunami...

        I saw what you did there.

  5. myhandler

    Don't knock our BBC - it might get privatised, then what?

    Compare it to ANY other broadcaster ...

    I saw this doucumentary and thought it was quite fun - not saying the guy shouldn't complain though - Beeb needs to be kept on it's toes while it's still a public body.

    1. rhydian

      "Don't knock our BBC - it might get privatised, then what?"

      Then we can all stop being forced, by law, to spend £145.50 every year on a corporation we may or may not even watch.

      "Compare it to ANY other broadcaster ..."

      You mean all those private broadcasters I can choose whether or not to pay for?

      1. Justthefacts Silver badge

        You can't choose not to pay for BSkyB

        Have a look what happens to people who go up against Murdoch.

        Vince Cable? Got replaced by Jeremy Hunt (stooge).

        Just because it isn't direct tax, BSkyB pressure comes out of your taxes from Murdoch benefiting policies. Those who try to fight back and protect taxpayers are.....removed.

        That's why Putin first targeted TV stations.

        That's why Berlusconi became PM, from his TV "interests"

      2. Triggerfish

        Yes but in a way they are kept in line by the beeb,Imagine if there was nothing like it. How long before American style scheduling and ad breaks came in to TV.

        Even so I( have to say its rare I watch a science program now, they are rarely done well or teach me anything. Once David Attenborough is gone that may be the end of watchable documentaries.

  6. Buzzword

    What are the consequences of treating it as realistic? It's not global warming: we don't all have to cycle and knit our own shirts and recycle hemp nappies. In fact there's pretty much no way to defend from such an event, short of building Dutch-style dikes (levees) around the entire coastline. Which isn't going to happen.

    Without consequences, there is no cause for concern. It's as harmless as the movie 2012 or War of the Worlds.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge


      Ask US geological survey.

      If it did not have some suspicions that the big slide model of Cumbre Viejo has merit, it would not have spent several fairly fat wads of taxpayers greenbacks to establish and run a set of early warning ground stations on La Palma. In addition to local earthquake data, they supply back to USA data on any ground moves (detected by constantly monitoring GPS coordinates of the station).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Loss of credibility for science

      If science programs and disaster movies become equated in people's minds (if the fear mongering about global warming causing 30m sea level rises haven't already) then science fiction and science fact become indistinguishable in people's minds.

      If that happens they might start believing that evolution is crap and vaccines are a government conspiracy. It is too late for us in the states, but you Brits don't need to follow us down that path unless you want a return of the measles!

      1. Wolsten

        Re: Loss of credibility for science

        Great point - that's my biggest concern but I fear it is also too late for us too. I come across very few people able to think critically these days, even "intelligent" people with degrees. Given, for example, the CAGW indoctrination going on in our schools now, we have probably lost a generation. It's very troubling and the BBC has taken an active and shameful part in the dumbing down process.

  7. The last doughnut

    Tsunami of the idiots

    The Beeb has a long and proud history of science-based programming and it is sad to see that rich heritage getting trashed for the sake of mere entertainment in cases like this.

  8. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    anything now goes, it seems.

    BBC TV hasn't been a trustworthy source of science or engineering reporting for 20-30 years. Everything is dumbed-down to the level of a hyperactive 10-year-old with an Xbox.

    I have some old Horizon programmes on tape from the 80s. They're dated, of course (computer graphics and microelectronics have moved on a bit!) but the quality of reporting is far superior to the sensationalist claptrap it broadcasts today. Even Mythbusters takes a more scientific approach than the BBC does, which is hardly a recommendation.

  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    We're doomed, DOOMED, DOOMED, I say!!!!

    At ease, Fraser!

  10. Daggerchild Silver badge

    Science - now a subdivision of Entertainment

    I remember when Panorama used to have good odds of being reliable. Then I remember the 'Wifi is zapping your kids!' episode, where the 'respected authority' they listened to also had the award for 'most misleading science' from his peers. A few more later, I gave up on them.

    Was it Tommorrow's World that got transferred from Factual programme division to Entertainment and promptly went down the drain? I will always remember Flipper Forrester savaging the Metalstorm gun inventor for being .. a gun inventor. Bye bye impartiality.

    It would be nice if people respected Science. Unfortunately Trust/Respect is a draw, and that means eyeballs and ears, and that means money, so it's more profitable to whore it out than let it sit there being boring educating your kids or something.

    Thing is... that ratings-driven attitude is exactly what the BBC exists to be the counter-toxin for. Has someone forgotten why they exist?

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Science - now a subdivision of Entertainment

      Thanks - I'd been trying to remember the name of that gun for a couple of weeks, just to find the abysmal TW report! Have one on me!

  11. Efros

    Horizon no more...

    Horizon ain't what it used to be either, very disheartening to see a programme with such longevity wind up the way it has.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Horizon no more...

      Every time Horizon shows a gas fireball against a black background to represent the Big Bang, I cringe.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Horizon no more...

        "a gas fireball against a black background to represent the Big Bang"

        Yes. But no. But... how *would* you show the Big Bang on TV?

        Of course, there is an option of just showing a 255:255:255 white screen accompanied by white noise at 0DB for a few million years or until the TV explodes in the viewer's face, but, really...

        1. Daggerchild Silver badge

          Re: Horizon no more...

          Yes. But no. But... how *would* you show the Big Bang on TV?

          Could always just reach for Akira :)

      2. DropBear

        Re: Horizon no more...

        Every time Horizon shows a gas fireball against a black background to represent the Big Bang, I cringe.

        So, um, how do you like those representations of the brain that invariable show vast empty spaces sparsely filled with a few interconnected neurons firing glowing impulses wildly left and right...?

    2. montyburns56

      Re: Horizon no more...

      What do you mean? That episode with "comedian" Alan Davies was filled with hardcore science!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Horizon no more...

        Was that the one about blue whales?

  12. The Axe

    Climage Change is happening, see this is what will happen

    The public are tiring of Climage Change so they need to be scared into believing its will happen* so that those who make money from Greenie policies (like Dale Vince of Ecotricity, who has no connection with the BBC and this story but is just an example of one of those who profit from Green policies) can carry on raking it in.

    * will happen or could happen, it doesn't matter when a disaster movie is presented as science, in the mind of the public it becomes a definite, not a possibility.

  13. James Pickett

    "expected Godzilla to make a guest appearance, or at very least Al Gore"

    Not much difference, really. Except Godzilla probably didn't come on to a masseuse...

    1. The Dude

      ...and Godzilla won't try and sell you shares in his global-warming Ponzi scheme.

      1. Steven Raith

        ...and all of Godzillas rampages probably cost less than the green levy on our electric bills to pay for middle class people to get solar panels, but hey ho, eh?

    2. Robert Helpmann??

      Go! Go! Godzilla!

      "...expected Godzilla to make a guest appearance, or at very least Al Gore."

      You missed the real news here: Al Gore is the larval form of Godzilla! As far as the content of the show, perhaps some additional credibility might be gained by mentioning the energy needed to generate a wave of the depicted magnitude might theoretically be gained by having sharks firing lasers into the landslide just as it hit the sea. Pew, pew!

    3. nijam Silver badge

      ...and Godzilla isn't a jet-setting "do as I say, not as I do" doom-monger

  14. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    So a meteor didn't wipe out the dinosaurs

    "No such event, a ....., has occurred in either the Atlantic or Pacific oceans in recorded history. NONE"

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: So a meteor didn't wipe out the dinosaurs

      That's somewhat out of context. A meteor Tsunami certainly didn't wipe out the dinosaurs - of the 4 elements it was mostly Earth and Fire i.e. Ash and Debris in the atmosphere.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: So a meteor didn't wipe out the dinosaurs

        ISTR that "the end of the dinosaurs" actually took something like 70 000 years after the big rock hit (unless that has since been discredited and I missed it).

    2. Charles 9

      Re: So a meteor didn't wipe out the dinosaurs

      The several that spring to mind were all land impacts. And the one that did in the dinosaurs, last I checked, ended up near the Gulf of Mexico, closer to the Pacific than the Atlantic but not actually in either body.

      That said, I'm surprised the discussion did not mention mega-tsunamis induced by a large meteor impact in the ocean. It's definitely plausible if extremely unlikely. There's also the possibility of hypercanes with an oceanic impact.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: So a meteor didn't wipe out the dinosaurs

        But it wasn't in recorded history ....

    3. Dr_N

      Re: So a meteor didn't wipe out the dinosaurs

      A meteor doesn't strike the Earth, so no.

  15. Captain Hogwash

    I thought we'd all agreed...

    ...that science programming was over at the BBC after the Horizon strand's assertion via Danny Wallace that "Chimps are people too".

  16. S4qFBxkFFg

    Coming up on 5 years without a TV licence here, and I certainly don't regret it.

    If this type of thing bothers you, take some time to figure out whether you need a licence. It's only required if you watch or record TV transmissions as they are being broadcast.

    Merely owning a TV or recording device doesn't require a licence.

    Watching catch-up services (e.g. iplayer) doesn't require a licence.

    You do not have to let TV licence inspectors into your home, or even answer their questions (they need to get the police for that - and rarely bother).

    Isn't there something on which you'd rather spend the £145.50?

    1. mythicalduck

      Actually, BBC's iPlayer requires you to own a TV licence. Other streaming services don't though

      1. Ian 62

        Only if you watch the LIVE stream, any delayed stream from iPlayer does not require it. Am sure that'd be an interesting case if it came to court. "He said, She said"

        Quote from the tv licensing page:

        ‘Live TV’ means any programmes you watch or record at the same time as they’re being shown on TV or an online TV service.

        An online TV service is a service that mainly aims to provide TV programmes over the internet, e.g. on a website or through an app or Smart TV.

        If you only ever watch ‘on demand’ programmes, you don’t need a TV Licence. On demand includes catch-up TV, streaming or downloading programmes after they’ve been shown on live TV, or programmes available online before being shown on TV.

    2. Alex Walsh

      If you watch live TV over iplayer or on a website, you still need a license though. I'd imagine if you have a TV with a tuner in it capable of picking up telly signals the effort in convincing the TV licensing bods you don't watch any live TV is probably more effort than the £145 saving. Pointing out you don't watch live telly to the bailiffs or the chaps in the court when the summons arrives is probably a lot of aggro too?

      1. S4qFBxkFFg

        "If you watch live TV over iplayer or on a website, you still need a license though. I'd imagine if you have a TV with a tuner in it capable of picking up telly signals the effort in convincing the TV licensing bods you don't watch any live TV is probably more effort than the £145 saving. Pointing out you don't watch live telly to the bailiffs or the chaps in the court when the summons arrives is probably a lot of aggro too?"

        Thing is, I don't actually bother convincing them of anything; thanks to the presumption of innocence, it's THEIR job to prove their case through some sort of judicial process, not mine. I probably could make their lives easier by being a bit more open, but I like the idea of wasting the time of an organisation of which I disapprove.

        I don't have a TV (not really relevant anyway), but they don't know that. I've had them come to the door, and the response is "No thank you, I don't need one.", before turning off the intercom, which takes seconds. Hardly worthy of the term "effort".

        The threatening letters (full of "could"s, "may"s, "up to"s, etc., nothing formal like a court summons) get filed in the recycling. They can't be bothered taking anything further when there are easy victims who actually invite the inspectors in, or answer their questions.

  17. druck Silver badge

    BBC says no to science

    Well when the BBC allows one person, Roger Harbin, decide that scientific consensus for man made global warning is so strong, the BBC can be absolved from it's responsibility of balanced reporting, then what hope does any real science have on the channel? We can only look forward to the BBC trust backing to the hilt more sensationalist drivel like the mega tsunami, and disregarding any evidence to the contrary.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: BBC says no to science

      And it's complete lack of balanced reporting on whether the moon landings really happened

    2. nsld

      Re: BBC says no to science

      Wont be long before they tout megashark v. crocosauraus as a consequence of global warming!

    3. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: BBC says no to science

      Well when the BBC allows one person, Roger Harbin, decide that scientific consensus for man made global warning is so strong, the BBC can be absolved from it's responsibility of balanced reporting, then what hope does any real science have on the channel? We can only look forward to the BBC trust backing to the hilt more sensationalist drivel like the mega tsunami, and disregarding any evidence to the contrary.

      Demanding consensus is far too high a threshold for science coverage with any currency to it at all - if that is the threshold you have strictly educational programming and that is it. If consensus is required entire categories go straight out of the window. Can an informative and valuable program be made covering string theory? Of course it can, the fact that string theory is very much a work in progress and has nothing like consensus behind it should not be a bar on such a programme being commissioned.

      Can the news report the findings of a peer-reviewed paper in e.g. the Lancet? If you demand consensus then no it can't - the fact that three or four academics were unable to rubbish it at review stage does not amount to consensus by itself.

      Consider The Sky at Night and they are discussing some space probe. Before launch the discussion is couched in terms of "We expect..." or "We hope to see...". When the results are back it is "We think this is probably..." or "We interpret this as...". Both are mere speculation rather than reporting of the consensus. Does it mean it is not legitimate science programming? Of course not.

      Far too those with a false sense of their scientific awareness have a mistaken belief in some magical threshold level of consensus, and everything outside that box is junk. That attitude itself is psuedoscience, on any particular area of progress there are different ideas with different levels of support behind them. Any new proposal lacks acceptance at first, it has to be considered and tested first and there are always counter-theories and interpretations. If you proceed from the starting position of "This has no consensus, therefore it is junk and therefore it doesn't even need to be explored" you are not promoting science but arguing for a complete cessation of scientific advancement.

      I have not seen the programme in question but the BBC's arguments seem valid enough to me starting from that position. Consider the very premise of the programme - its title is not "Are we going to be killed by a mega-tsunami?" but "Could we survive a mega-tsunami?" - i.e. the emphasis in not on how likely it is to happen but on what the impact would be if it does happen. Remember that the arguments that it can't happen are themselves shaky - note the appeal to recorded (i.e. written) history which is so brief as to be meaningless in a geological context and as is acknowledged the longer geological record does indicate prior examples. Even if the tsunami couldn't possibly be triggered by this one volcano, the programme remains valid if anywhere else (possibly somewhere we know nothing about) could cause similar effects. I think that's enough on which to base a What If? scenario that doesn't tackle the contentious point head-on in any event.

    4. Wolsten

      Re: BBC says no to science

      On a par with their current affairs program where a tory MP on the science and engineering committee promoted homeopathy and other guests politely agreed there might be something in it. Present the BBC with 18 years of static satellite temperature data and surface data homogenised to death to show warming trends and they are not interested. I was a staunch fan of the BBC and now I am ashamed of it.

  18. Stuart 22

    It almost makes you pine for those CGI enhanced flares on the old OU Maths & Science programmes. At least they stuck to facts. You can always trust a man with elbow patches.

  19. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Horizon - 1970s stylee

    I was aged 9 or 10, and learned enough about quarks and particle physics to scare the bejesus out of my science teacher at school (who just about knew about photons).

    I knew about strangness and charm, and the weird up and down nature of spin.

    Where did I learn so much.

    The Saturday afternoon repeat of Horizon.

    The next week, I learned about the role Lucy played in redefining our ideas of the timescale of human evolution - being much older than we previously thought. By then I learned not to discuss this at school.

    Nowadays, it's hard to tell if "Moments of Wonder" is parodying BBC science, or actually just a summary.

  20. codejunky Silver badge


    "The imagery and tone was so over the top, that I half expected Godzilla to make a guest appearance, or at very least Al Gore."

    At that point I couldnt stop laughing. The BBC abandoned science ages ago. Maybe they should consider making purely fictional shows including Godzilla and Al Gore to go along with their current availability.

    At least in the US you have to pay to watch FOX. Here you have to pay for the biased tripe even if you dont watch it.

    1. DropBear

      Re: ha

      "The imagery and tone was so over the top, that I half expected Godzilla to make a guest appearance, or at very least Al Gore."

      Methinks they reached Buzzfeed levels of horrible: "Ten things you didn't know about the mile-high wall of water that is waiting to kill you, your family and your neighbour's dog!!!" Hardly any worse, isn't it...

  21. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    I've just watched...

    ...the Channel 4 docu-drama, showing how, if UKIP were elected, race riots and the collapse of the British economy would follow, with fascist gangs roaming the streets. This was broadcast in the run-up to an election.

    But I bet if you complain, their response will be:

    - It's only fiction, so it doesn't count as political comment

    - the election period actually starts tomorrow

    - can't you take a joke?

    ...and so the slippery slope proceeds...

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: I've just watched...

      Oddly enough that was pretty much their response, its apparently one of the most complained about programs ever, I'm not a UKIP support but even I watching it wondered if the scenarios the author imagined was more, what happens if the fascist party take over. They just stopped short for saying UKIP will be introducing the stazi.

  22. Bob Wheeler

    Found the problem..

    "the BBC wanted to present the subject to a disinterested audience"

    See, it's the fault of the audience, if only they where interested then the BBC could make better programmes.

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Found the problem..

      Disinterested means impartial, not apathetic. It's not wholly clear from the context if this is what Orlowski intended, but the word that you are after is uninterested. Oh, and were. And that really ought to be a full stop after audience.


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pfft, rule one is to never let good science get in the way of disaster porn...

    If the Canary Island megatsunami actually takes place, it would be aimed at the eastern seaboard of the Americas and the Caribbean anyway, and would pretty much miss Europe.

    And a kilometer-high wave would entirely destroy the UK anyway, unless you happened to be on a mountain-top in Scotland. The good news with that is that it would mean the end of the BBC's ability to release scare-mongering pseudo-scientific "crock-umentaries".

  24. Dr_N

    Is BBC Radio more rigourous ?

    Perhaps because they don't have to chase the ratings?

    e.g. Most of Radio4's output, including The Infinite Monkey Cage.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Is BBC Radio more rigourous ?

      Perhaps because they don't have to chase the ratings?

      I suspect it's because they don't have to chase the money. Radio's not 'glamorous', and the career beancounters at the top of the TV food chain consider radio so far beneath them that it's irrelevant, so they ignore it. Long may it continue so.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Is BBC Radio more rigourous ?

      Apart from TIMC the science shows are a bit magazine-y

      In Our Time is always good for science, mostly because the presenter isn't a scientist.

  25. Alex Walsh

    Remember the good old days when science programmes weren't full of gratuitous SFX and structured like a whodunnit?

    1. montyburns56

      "gratuitous SFX"

      You obviously don't remember some of the ties and shirts that the OU lecturers used to wear back in the day!

  26. disgruntled yank

    Yes, pedantry

    But the expression "mega tsunami" strikes me as about as graceless as "ichi ban agora". Would a Mega Tsunami leave a Kill o' Sushi behind?

  27. disgruntled yank


    I don't watch much TV, but are American history and science shows that terrible? I confess that I haven't seen any of the latter since "Bill Nye the Science Guy" about 20 years aogo, and my impression was that he overdoes the presentation but has the basics down.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Also

      American science shows, if they did one showing Jenny McCarthy doing a program on vaccination and medical biology, it wouldn't be a surprise.

  28. wiggers

    Slopey shoulders

    This reminds me of complaints I've made in the past. The BBC response has been to 'reframe' the complaint to sidestep the main issue and then say they've done nothing wrong.

    1. Martin Budden Silver badge

      Re: Slopey shoulders

      Sadly I've had the same experience when complaining about a factually incorrect advert in Australia.

  29. Mark 85

    Did rubber raft sales suddenly jump after this?

    From across the pond, if it's commercial television, there's a target market for stuff like this: the survivalists, the lunatic fringe, etc. And usually, some niche market's sales suddenly climb upward.

    I firmly believe that bad science is worse than no science.

  30. The Dude

    It could be worse...

    As a general rule, I prefer BBC programs to the CBC garbage we have in Canada. At least the BBC stuff you can usually laugh about, whereas CBC just makes people weep in shame.

  31. The Dude

    Only the BBC...?

    Unfortunately, this sort of sensationalist pseudoscience that seeks to alarm people into parting with cash (research grants or insurance premiums) is hardly limited to the BBC. Even Laval University and the federal government of Canada have produced and published alarmist nonsense written by credentialed (PhD) research scientists that, upon investigation, turns out to be deliberate lies and complete crap. They defend this crap by saying it is based not in science, but rather in "a feeling". Even the courts, supposedly staffed by people who understand logic, reason, law - and that sort of thing - accept such publications as a legitimate exercise of free speech.

    I say crap is crap, no matter who writes it or which government publishes it. If it presented as "science" and turns out to be merely comment or opinion, then that is fraud - sometimes defamation - and at the very least, there should be an Ethics Standards body looking into it - not ignoring or whitewashing it.

    As much as I hate to say it, I think the only reasonable response to the deluge of this sort of thing is to simply cut all government funding of science, and get the politics out of it.

  32. TheRealRoland

    "I really hope Lord Reith wasn’t watching it from his celestial sofa as I’m pretty sure he’d be doing around 3000rpm at the moment."

    So, all we need is to wire up the dead people with copper, create a controversy, and free (green?) energy?

  33. Martin Budden Silver badge

    Other triggers?

    OK so the Canary Island landslide hypothesis has been debunked: it ain't gonna happen. But what about other possible causes? A large earthquake can also cause a tsunami, as Cornwall discovered in 1755 when they suffered "great loss of life and property" in the tsunami caused by the Lisbon earthquake. That same tsunami also destroyed some of the city wall in Galway, Ireland.

  34. londongirl1

    Not just tsunamis - truth is not something you can pick and choose.

    This is a wider problem with BBC documentaries, isn't there? I had some insight into a documentary BBC2 screened in late January about Lewis Carroll. They devoted a lot of it to a nude photo which they tried to link with carroll even though the picture had already been appraised as having nothing to do with him, and experts are agreed that it is not possible to link it with Carroll.

    However, the expert contributors to the programme were prevented from saying this and given no airtime, having the existence of the photo concealed from them and being told that the programme was going to be a celebration of Alice in Wonderland. The BBC twisted around some scientific reports they commissioned themselves on the photo by getting the scientists to give their personal, not professional opinions, and then further distorting the relevance of their professional findings by presenting them dishonestly. The result was, as with the tsunami,a load of misinformation and cheap sensational headlines.

    Having seen the Carroll documentary being made at first hand I was saddened. Even though most people don't really care about Lewis Carroll or tsunamis, a good reputation is not something you can put on and take off like a coat. The BBC is committing suicide by sitting back complacently and trying to wriggle out of conforming to its own guidelines.

    I am sure that this attitude has come from the top, otherwise programmme makers would know they could not get away with this. We have all seen how successive governments have yearned to take away BBC impartiality for years, and putting in fat cats who only care about getting money and bagging a knighthood is a good way to rot it from the top down.

    The sad thing is that most people probably still trust the BBC to give truth and balance about issues that DO matter - security, health, safety, etc. - but many more junk documentaries like this and they will stop doing so and then there will be no point in having something like the BBC paid for out of public money. So the politicians will have won.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Not just tsunamis - truth is not something you can pick and choose.

      And the inevitable consequence of this, of course,is that the real experts wil refuse to accept BBC invitations, leaving only the cranks to fill the airtime. It's a downward spiral.

      1. londongirl1

        Re: Not just tsunamis - truth is not something you can pick and choose.

        I think this is already happening - was talking to someone yesterday who works in TV and was saying this.

  35. Yoru

    The BBC is a Commercial Enterprise

    Yet more evidence, as if we needed it, that the BBC is no longer acting as a Public Broadcast Service.

    Nowadays it acts more like a Commercial Enterprise with Commercial Imperatives.

    That is, whist maintaining financial security, it relentlessly seeks ways of undermining all forms of competition and maintain a dominant market position, by giving the Public what they Want rather that what they Need.

    In the world of Commercial Imperatives there is little Added Value in Truth, but much to be gained in the art of the Spectacle.

  36. Mike 137 Silver badge

    What's all the fuss about?

    Auntie is never wrong - even about trivial things. There is one presenter of the morning shipping forecast (Louise Lear) who, whenever the same conditions pertain in both the Forth and Tyne regions, always merges them into the non-existent "Forthtyne" with the stress on Forth. I've complained to Auntie several times over a period of several years, and all the responses I've received have simply stated that I'm mistaken.

    If Auntie can deny such simple checkable matters of fact, she can deny anything.

  37. Warm Braw

    A letter in a bottle has literally just flooded in

    It reads:

    Dear Judith Chalmers

    I was sitting peacefully at home in Dwygyfylchi minding my neighbour's business when suddenly there was an almighty crash and Conwy Mountain fell into the sea. I was carried away on my coffee table and finally landed on the Isle of Man.

    Really, you couldn't make it up if you tried.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mrs Trellis,

    Formerly of North Wales

    1. A Ghost

      Dear Ivy

      I'm so sorry to hear about your traumatic experience. Being so violently uprooted from a village no one as ever heard of (even the people that live there), that you've probably never even been out of your entire life, must rank up there with one of the worst experiences a human being can have. You have my deepest sympathies.

      And to end up on the Isle of Man only adding insult to your otherwise horrendous injury. Still, at least you made it out of a hell that I can not even begin to imagine, and that's what really matters. You can't beat a bit of quality Hardwood for general floatability I say. Sounds like it really saved your bacon. Must look on the bright side though, eh? You could have ended up in Swansea! Or worse, Aberystwyth! And I say that with no prejudice to the good inhabitants of those parts. There's more to be pitied than blamed, I always say. The good Lord does indeed move in mysterious ways.

      I will say a prayer for you tonight before I go to bed.

      Yours ever so sincerely,

      Judith Chalmers

  38. A Ghost

    I like a bit of doom porn

    as much as the next man. But all this 'Thunder Snow Weather Bomb Smokestack Lightning Mega Tsunami Catastrophic Meteor Close Shaves' is going a bit far.

    After a while you just become the boy that screamed 'Incoming...' only to be scoffed at by those that 5 seconds later go 'SPLAT'. An 'I told you so!' will be of limited usage by that point.

    Can't we just go back to the more subtle stuff like 'Antibiotics No Longer Working Flu Pandemic Epidemic Nanotechnology Breakout Sudden Population Collapse' kind of stuff?

    I'm a connoisseur of this type of thing obviously, and I get a bit miffed when they over gild the lilly (pudding?).

  39. jai


    "The BBC's own guidelines on reconstructions state that they \"should normally be based on a substantial and verifiable body of evidence,\" "

    But... it's not a reconstruction if it's a theoretical enactment of a potential scenario. it's a construction. Is there a guideline document for those?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like