22 February 2010

Mojib Latif on ZDF: "A Fraud to the Public"

The German public television station ZDF has put together a nice segment (in German, available here) on the substantive problems in the IPCC, including the issue of catastrophe losses. In it Mojib Latif, a prominent German climate scientist, comments on the misrepresentation of the science of disasters and climate change in very strong terms:
"This is clearly a fraud to the public and to the colleague. Everybody has to reject such a behaviour. We have to take care, those things won't happen again."
UPDATE: In the comments Richard Tol offers some helpful details on the translation (original above by a native German speaker, FYI):
Latif uses the word "Betrug", which can mean fraud, but also deceit, deception, cheating, fooling, swindle, fiddle, or scam.

I would think that "Betrug" is somewhat softer than "fraud", but then English is my second language and German my third.
FURTHER UPDATE: From the comments:
German is my first language,too, and I would translate Mojib Latif's sentence like this:

"This is a very obvious fraud, on the public and on the colleague in question. One has to categorically reject such a thing and we must now try, should such things really have happened, to make sure they don't happen again next time."

On a sliding scale of words refering to matters of dishonesty, "Betrug" is the strongest and most serious accusation, used in the sense of criminal deception. As even in Germany libel cases are no longer quite so rare, using this word can be quite risky. Note that the ZDF itself calls this "dubious goings on" ("unsauberes Handeln") and does not itself accuse the IPCC of fraud. Mojib Latif, who is entirely apologetic about the other mistakes pointed out in the ZDF report, uses "Betrug" very deliberately, when referring to the IPCC's misrepresentation of Roger's work, but covers himself when he adds "wenn sie [solche Dinge] tatsaechlich vorgekommen sind" - "wenn" could be translated even stronger as "if" and not just "should have" but it's unclear from his words how much doubt he meant to throw in there.

13 comments:

Richard Tol said...

Latif uses the word "Betrug", which can mean fraud, but also deceit, deception, cheating, fooling, swindle, fiddle, or scam.

I would think that "Betrug" is somewhat softer than "fraud", but then English is my second language and German my third.

itisi69 said...

Betrug: what about "shenanigan"?

Frontiers of Faith and Science said...

But according to the AGW promoters, skeptics (including you) are wicked evil denialists, paid by big tobacco...er big oil to say smoking...er CO2 is safe.

RWP said...

Usage: the Nigerian email scammers are called Nigeria-Betrüger in Germany, and phishing artists are "Phishing-Betrüger" ; I see Bild called Bernie Madoff "Grösster Betrüger aller Zeiten" (greatest swindler of all time); the British TV series 'The Cheaters' was translated as 'Die Betrüger'; Hobbes' "Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues" is translated as "Gewalt und Betrug sind die zwei Haupttugenden im Kriege".

It really does mean fraud or swindling. 'Shenanigan' might be a bit mild.

(German is also my third language, so caveat lector!)

haraldbange said...

As a native German speaker,who has lived in the States for 50 years:

Betrug in Latif's context means FRAUD.

Latif specifically used it when referring to Roger's "changed his mind" entry.

Harald

Olivier said...

Betrug :
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betrug

In english :

http://translate.google.fr/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=es&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fde.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FBetrug&sl=de&tl=en

Momo said...

German is my first language,too, and I would translate Mojib Latif's sentence like this:

"This is a very obvious fraud, on the public and on the colleague in question. One has to categorically reject such a thing and we must now try, should such things really have happened, to make sure they don't happen again next time."

On a sliding scale of words refering to matters of dishonesty, "Betrug" is the strongest and most serious accusation, used in the sense of criminal deception. As even in Germany libel cases are no longer quite so rare, using this word can be quite risky. Note that the ZDF itself calls this "dubious goings on" ("unsauberes Handeln") and does not itself accuse the IPCC of fraud. Mojib Latif, who is entirely apologetic about the other mistakes pointed out in the ZDF report, uses "Betrug" very deliberately, when referring to the IPCC's misrepresentation of Roger's work, but covers himself when he adds "wenn sie [solche Dinge] tatsaechlich vorgekommen sind" - "wenn" could be translated even stronger as "if" and not just "should have" but it's unclear from his words how much doubt he meant to throw in there.

Craig said...

Reminds me of when I was a child.

Good night
Sleep tight
Don't let the betrugs bite.

Reiner Grundmann said...

From the context Latif sounds as if he really means 'deceit', not 'fraud'. If he meant Betrug in the sense of 'fraud' then there would be legal implications as this is a crime. Maybe he realised this while he spoke and thus tried to dampen the effect of this (potentially too strong) word by adding two qualifiers:
1. should this have happened (which does not make sense as he refers to the alleged Betrug as fact--at least the viewer is given this impression because of the edited sequence that precedes his statement)
2. we should make sure this does not happen in the future.

If there was illegal behaviour you would seek redress, or call for an investigation, not promise of a better future.

In sum, I think he realized that the word he used was too strong while he uttered it and then tried to remedy the situation while he finished the sentence.

Lumo said...

Congratulations, Roger. I think it must be a refreshing change to be protected by some official circles again.

Reiner Grundmann said...

BTW, did people notice that at the end of his interview Latif says he sees tendencies within the IPCC to over-dramatise ('Dinge dramatischer darzustellen, als sie wirklich sind'). And that he is not exempt from this.

This may be more significant than the statement on 'Betrug'.

sdcougar said...

People need to send links to news like this to the PBS Ombudsman and ask WHY the PBS NewsHour only reports AGW propaganda and gives no in depth reporting to these issues;

http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/feedback.html

In the lead up to Copenhagen, the PBS NewsHour 'reported' that "this huge team of scientists from all over the globe issued these unanimous warnings about the really extreme danger to the planet."

egp said...

"Betrug" is a criminal act if it serves personal enrichmment at other people's or the public expense. egp
(I am a native German speaker)

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