Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:The data spans 40 years (Score 3, Insightful) 352

by Ctrl-Alt-Del (#31935434) Attached to: UK University Researchers Must Make Data Available

Unfortunately, Climategate proved that, at least in the field of climate research, "peer review" is worthless; Mann et al were actively conspiring to ensure that only "friendly" eyes carried out the reviews; anyone thought to be showing signs of scepticism were blacklisted, whether individuals or publications.

To add to that, Glaciergate proved that much of what was claimed to be peer-reviewed was actually just regurgitated propaganda, often based on anecdotal evidence (reminisces of mountaineers published in a student rag? Puh-lease!)

So, appeals to authority ("oh but all this research has been peer reviewed") just don't hold any more. Not until all the data and all the methods used to arrive at the results are made available, and the results can be independently confirmed or denied, can we say whether the research was worth the weight of mouldy notebooks it was archived on.

Comment: Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense (Score 1) 352

by Ctrl-Alt-Del (#31935322) Attached to: UK University Researchers Must Make Data Available

The problem with the hockey stick was *not* the data, but the code. When the methods that Mann used to produce the code were eventually (and very reluctantly, I should add) made public, it was found that you could feed *any* data into the equations, even phone numbers taken from the phone directory, and you would get a hockey stick graph!

The point is that for the scientific method to really work and be trustworthy, both the data and the methods used to analyse that data *must* be made available. That means good archiving of data (and floppy disks are not good archival formats); Climategate proved that the CRU and others either didn't look after their raw data, or were willing to lose it rather than hand it over.

The result now is that most of the data that all computer modelling is being done from is based on homogenised data - in other words, the raw data has been fiddled with, in ways which are not documented. Now no-one can prove that this data being fed into models is even valid! (And trusting computer models is a fool's errand - see the fun and games modelling of volcanic ash dispersal has caused on world air travel in the past few weeks - those models just don't match what actual reality seems to be bearing out).

To summarise: reliable science depends on the original data and methods being made available, so that other scientists can reproduce the original results, to confirm or deny that those results are valid. Hiding either data or methods, or as in the case of Climategate, wilfully destroying or obstructing the release, of either, goes against the most basic principles of science.

This ruling is nothing but a good thing.

Comment: Re:personally (Score 1) 1721

by Ctrl-Alt-Del (#29702975) Attached to: Barack Obama Wins the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

Obama is a man to be respected for his accomplishments during the past year.

Which accomplishments would those be? Closing Gitmo? Nope, haven't done that yet. Health Care Reform? Nope, haven't done that yet, and it's not really "reform" anyway. Creating a transparent White House? Nope, we gave up on that one pretty early on.

Not to mention the fact that he actually "won" it back in February, when he had been in office for barely a month. Yeah, lots of time for "achievements" there, I doubt his staff had finished unpacking boxes by then.

Comment: Re:The First Ones (Score 1) 774

by Ctrl-Alt-Del (#26698991) Attached to: New Paper Offers Additional Reasoning for Fermi's Paradox

So while there's Drake's Equation for working out how many star systems there are out there capable of supporting life, there also needs to be a Drake's equation for working out what proportion of those star systems actually contain intelligent life capable of radio transmissions. That should narrow it down, when you consider what proportion of species on the earth are capable of it...

It's a good thing the universe is infinite, but it certainly reduces the chances in *this* galaxy.

When some people discover the truth, they just can't understand why everybody isn't eager to hear it.