Sunday, June 04, 2006

A second comment onTruth and Dale Abenojar

I completely forgot to note that in the global warming (GW) debate, the denialists have demanded balanced or equal reporting of both sides. While in theory this is desirable, they have manipulated it in such a away that when there are public announcements of a peer-reviewed scientific paper concluding that human activities are worsening (there are natural causes too) GW, the denialists will come out with a press release or editorial questioning it on political and not scientific grounds. So, the debate shifts to politics from science and if you analyze the ratio of media articles between scientific discussions to political editorializing, there are more of the latter. There are now more than 2,500 scientists worldwide who have stated that GW is real and worsened by man. The skeptics have so muddled the GW discussion that the GW scientists have challenged the few skeptics to bets of as high as $10K. Only two Russian (the right-wingers couldn't get their paid skeptic scientists to bet) scientists agreed to the bet. See:

What does this have to do with Dale? When he contacts the media (by email, fax, interviews, etc), he is actually demanding equal news coverage. When he gets it he plays the role of "minority dissent", which if played "humbly" (fake) inspires sympathy and support. Reporters need to be careful and should balance out providing equal media coverage and sifting through what is fact and what are emotional or editorial/personal points of view.

Thus, I like how U.P. Mountaineer founder Boboy Francisco responded to the Inquirer interview and how he ended it: Dale must prove his summit claims.

"In God We Trust, all others bring data" - W. Edwards Deming

Green Map Metro Manila

Truth and Dale Abenojar

I am intrigued at the installment or strip tease of Dale Abenojar's evidence on his alleged Everest summit. "Carefully" timed press releases, unverifiable photos and a summit certificate, media interviews, open letters, forwarded emails, and lazy bloggers and newspaper people recycling these "planted" news on blogs and websites have created the impression in some that Dale may have been Pinoy Everest #1.

It reminds me of what Berkeley linguistic Professor George Lakoff labels the "framing" of the discussion. In the global warming (GW) debate, GW denialists, with significant funding from vested interests, seek to create the impression, through the gullible media and public, that the science of climate change is "fuzzy" or "junk" science. In the case of Dale, what he seems to be doing is to first protray himself as the lone climber (like Romy) ostracized by an envious mountaineering community, who despite all the difficulties and lack of support, has been able to achieve his dream (parang OFW). It is effective, since it inspires sympathy. All he has to do next is to proclaim his success to websites and newspapers who neither require nor want verification. Once it is printed or posted, then the information gains a life of its own through website feeders. Low investment in time and effort, but high payoff- until the truth comes out.

I reiterate my opinion that Dale must present verifiable proof on his summit claims. As with the peer-review process in the publication of scientific papers, he must allow his peers to assess/evaluate what he claims. This is his obligation and duty to mountaineering in general and Philippine mountaineering in particular. We've learned from Marcos' fake WWII medals and the Tasaday hoax. Will the name Dale Abenojar follow next?

On the other hand, we should not allow summit disputes (see last year/2005 Official Mt. Everest Summits article and here) distract from the achievements of FPMEE and Romy.

"In God We Trust, all others bring data" - W. Edwards Deming