Skepchick Quickies 5.31


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Just posted this on the “Sex and the Keynote” thread but wanted to post here too since I’m not sure how much traffic the other one is getting anymore:

    A couple days ago, I posted a few questions there. To Elyse and others who were upset by my post(s), I’d like to apologize (primarily to Elyse). I should have been more sensitive to the fact that she just went through this upsetting experience (an experience that might have touched a nerve with many commenters, too, because they might have had similar experiences themselves).

    I very much appreciate some of the responses I received, as they helped me understand what was so upsetting about the experience. Despite what people might have taken from my comments, I never was arguing that what those two did was okay and that Elyse was wrong for feeling as she did; I just wanted to better understand what made it so upsetting. Maybe I should have realized the answers to my questions prior to asking, but what I really wish I had realized prior to asking was that asking her to explain her feelings could easily seem like asking her to defend her feelings. I shouldn’t have done anything that remotely might have made her feel as though she were on trial for feeling violated/upset/etc. by this experience.

  2. So apparently King Cnute’s courtiers, having been reprimanded and rebuked for feeding his ego, opted to leave the country, and settle on the eastern seaboard, where their descendents have become North Carolina state legislators?

  3. The Fugitivus article is pure gold. I doubt it can be said better than that.

    Oh, and the science journalism article ought to be printed out in large type and personally delivered to every mainstream “news” organization in the country.

  4. I like this Wishful Thinking legislation. California can pass a law limiting movement on the San Andreas so that earthquakes are no larger than 3M or 4M. Think of the money we would save! If we had this law before 1989, we wouldn’t be spending several billion $$$ to replace the Bay Bridge. In fact, lets make the law retroactive while we’re at it.

  5. The science journalism article is excellent.

    When I was at grad school, an article from an interview one of our professors started with the ‘details of interview’ method, saying he looked like he was just resting up from running a marathon. Said professor was somewhat fat, in his 50s and walked with a limp.

    Also when at grad school, I noticed that approximately every 2 months, the New York Times published a “Big Bang theory refuted!”* or “Big Bang theory stunningly confirmed!”** story. I didn’t think to keep score, but it felt like they were about 50:50. (I expect they still do, but I’m now 14000km further from New York so no longer get the NYT.)

    * Some new measurement relating to the big bang was not quite as expected.
    ** Some new measurement relating to the big bang was as expected.

  6. The denialist comments on the NC legislation are stunning examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect. On commenter takes the author to task for leaving off a clause in the bill that he claims leaves an out for using nonlinear extrapolations for sea level rise. It doesn’t. The omitted clause says you can’t use accelerated projections, ever, even if that’s what the models result in.

    The entire sentence says:

    “Rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate
    future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise.”

    The article excludes the part after “linearly”, but the remainder only reinforces the point. The commenter somehow interprets this clause to mean that if someone wants to use a linear projection, that’s fine but if they do, then they can’t use an accelerated projection. If they don’t want to use a linear projection, then they can use anything they want to. Doh! The second clause is redundant to the first, as anyone who has taken introductory calculus would know. A linear projection is a straight line; it’s derivative (slope) is a constant. An accelerated projection has a changing slope; it’s derivative is not a constant. The two are mutually exclusive, so by the commenter’s interpretation, it is a tautology.

    The commenter asserts that anyone with a high school freshman reading level should understand this, but that is clearly not the meaning or intent of the law. Clearly the intent is that you can either project no increase in sea level or you can project a (strictly limited) linear increase in sea level. An accelerated (nonlinear) projection is right out. The second clause does not apply only if you have elected to use a linear projection. (Of course, a projection of no sea level rise is a linear projection of slope zero, but it’s probably too much to expect a legislature to understand that 0 is a number.)

    There is a more fundamental flaw with the entire premise of the law. The sea level projections are not assumptions of the climate models, they are the result. If you insist on a result a priori, then you are committing motivated reasoning, a logical fallacy.

    There is another requirement of the law that is equally disingenuous. It prohibits the use of data from before 1900. This, of course, eliminates ice cores, tree rings, earlier historical records, sediments and even that favorite of denialists, Milankovitch cycles, from being used to produce projections.

    BTW, the Mayans, who tell us we’re all going to die in December, understood zero. Maybe they were onto something?</snark>

  7. Great articles, all. The one on NC’s consideration of a law against sea level is a riot.

    Am I the only one that had this come to mind with the preacher article:

    “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?”

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