Selective references

We're all guilty of making selective references. Oh yes we are. You can paraphrase me on part of that, if you like. It's a perfectly natural thing to do—especially if you're trying to prove some point.

There were some great examples of selective references in this week's Any Questions programme on Radio 4. When asked a question about climate change, each of the politicians on the show (apart from the Labour Party rep) referred to the valedictory speech of the UK government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King, which was critical of certain government policies. The woman from the Green Party even took the opportunity to explain how Sir David had previously described climate change as a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism (which indeed he had), so shouldn't we be spending a lot more money on it than on some "illegal war"? [Cue applause.]

What all these politicians inexplicably neglected to mention, however, was what else Sir David said in his speech. Unfortunately, I have been unable to track down a transcript, so will selectively quote from the BBC's coverage to prove some sort of point of my own:

[Sir David] said: "I would love to see Britain back at the forefront of positive use of GM technology." He added: "The process of GM technology should not be banned. The products of GM technology should be clearly monitored one by one."

He believes there is a moral case for the UK and the rest of Europe to grow GM crops, and thinks Europe's backing would kick-start a technology that could help the world's poorest in Africa.

…or how about this one?

He told BBC News that he was disappointed that the UK government had not pushed forward with more [nuclear] power stations in the 2003 Energy White Paper; the government said that it wanted to see if renewables would fill the gap.

However, Sir David now says that he knew at the time he did not believe renewables on their own would be enough.

(I won't quote the bit about his thoughts on culling badgers, as I don't happen to agree with him on that one.)

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.

One comment

  1. At least we can now quote you as saying "We're all guilty" at some appropriate juncture. May prove handy.

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