“Man-made” mistakes

The Sunday newspaper is a breeding ground for journalistic faux pas.  USA Today’s Report:  97 percent of scientists say man-made climate change is real asks more questions that it answers.  What does “very likely” actually mean?  Compared to what, very unlikely?  What is the scale for this?  Since when is “very likely” an appropriate scientific substitution for a number?  Later in the article, we finally get a statistic–1,372 scientists–followed closely by another “very likely.”

In the study, the authors wrote: “This extensive analysis of the mainstream versus skeptical/contrarian researchers suggests a strong role for considering expert credibility in the relative weight of and attention to these groups of researchers in future discussions in media, policy, and public forums regarding anthropogenic climate change.”

Layman’s terms for the average reader please.  USA Today simply includes this quote and does not expand on this idea.

Finally, who the heck are William R.L. Anderegg, James W. Prall, Jacob Harold and Stephen H. Schneider?  Scientists?  Sociologists?  Frat boys?  Can we please have some indication of who conducted this study?

Studies in articles normally make me nervous because it is easy to twist and manipulate numbers to work for yourself.  However, there was no manipulation of numbers in this article…mostly because there were no numbers.

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Moving Past the BP Oil Spill

Not to downplay the importance of the BP oil spill, but I am getting a slightly irritated with the constant headlines about the tragedy in the Gulf.  It is a little frustrating, but I do understand the importance.  So let’s try to focus on what possible postive effects may come out of this disaster.  It may create an urgency in the American people and the government to explore cleaner energy sources.  If you have some time check out this article by CNN.  It brings up some interesting talking points and ideas.

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