Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gotta love pop science.



Hello everyone,
Please click on the link to this article to really see what steams my shorts.
http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/09/23/arctic.ice/index.html
I am not a scientist, but I have been taught and understand the scientific method, so lets take a look at this wonderful article brought to you by the worlds largest and most authoritative news service.
"It's definitely a bad report. We did pick up little bit from last year, but this is over 30 percent below what used to be normal,".... please slow down, come on, we're not scientists, give us a chance to figure this out. We're better than last year, OKAY (although I seem to remember you telling me this would be the worst year ever)... "up a little bit"... what is that in layman's terms, 5% or 50% or maybe a complete avoidance of the actual number?
Now what was that last bit at the end, please remind me. "but this is over 30 percent below what used to be normal".
Okay, thanks. Now lets look at this professional scientific statement. 30% below what used to be normal... what is normal? Is he referring to 10 years ago, 20, 100, 1000 or the last ice age? I mean come on, what kind of statement is that?
Second paragraph.
"This past summer, the Arctic sea ice dwindled to its second lowest level. Arctic sea ice is usually 1 to 3 meters". shouldn't we quantify "second lowest level" wouldn't a year actually be shorter? "Arctic sea ice is usually 1-3 meters thick"... and what was it this year? Wouldn't that have been a useful number to a reader?
"Scientists have monitored sea ice conditions for about 50 years with the help of satellites." I never realized they had thermal imaging satellites in 1958, shame on me I guess (kinda like CNN's expert).
"We are still losing the ice cover at a rate of 10 percent per decade now, and that is quite an increase from five years ago,"......Ummmm, I thought the unit of measure was a decade, which I thought was ten years, so why, oh why, would you suddenly switch to a five year time frame unless ten years ago.... never mind, don't want to get myself in trouble.

"Scientists have noticed increasing reports of starving Arctic polar bears attacking and feeding on one another in recent years. In one documented 2004 incident in northern Alaska, a male bear broke into a female's den and killed her." Scientists have noticed? I though scientists document, people reading papers notice. The best example you can come up with is one incident from 4 years ago... Maybe that bear was having a really bad day, maybe he just watched the last Soprano's episode and was really mad, I mean come on. Scientist are supposed to speak in proofs, These sort of statements wouldn't be acceptable in a grade seven science class and yet here we are spoon feeding this tripe to millions.

I've never had a lot of respect for the media but articles like this shouldn't be allowed under any disguise of legitimacy.
Take Care
CG

1 comment:

Way Way Up said...

Hear hear! I find it sad that the media can pretty much say anything and throw around a pile of numbers and it will be swallowed whole and without question by people who have absolutely no clue what the Arctic is like.