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Comment: Re:what conflict? (Score 1) 444

by martas (#49163789) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests
There may be vested interests, which does not mean their influence is equal or equivalent. Also, said vested interests do not affect individual researchers differently, which is a further potential source of bias. Finally, research typically is considered on its merit. As a matter of routine, no research is dismissed simply due to the source of its funding in the academic world. This researcher's work is no exception, as it has been argued against based on tangible scientific evidence. However, disclosure of funding sources is still one of the most basic safeguards against systematic corruption of published work. This has happened in the past, and it will always remain a possibility because science does not and cannot work according to whatever idealized model of incontrovertible proof and fully verifiable evidence you have in your mind. In the real world, there will always be subtle biases.

Comment: Re:what conflict? (Score 1) 444

by martas (#49136511) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests
Again, there are ways of funding research anonymously, but the ethical way to do so is for the source of funding to remain hidden from the researchers as well. As for your ideas about research being considered "on its merit" -- that might work in a more ideal world, but it is a naive simple-minded claim which ignores the basics of human nature as well as overwhelming historical precedent.

Comment: Re:what conflict? (Score 1) 444

by martas (#49136481) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests
If donors wish to remain anonymous, they are free to do so, but they must also be anonymous from the researchers. And you can play semantics all you want, but it won't change the fact that the journals requested information they are entitled to request which the researcher failed to provide, which is a serious breach of ethics (not to mention contract).

Comment: Re:what conflict? (Score 1) 444

by martas (#49109063) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests

Receiving money to conduct research is conflict of interest if the funds come from parties with vested interest in findings' results?

Yes. It is a conflict of interest that must be disclosed. It is routine procedure in, for instance, medical papers funded by pharmaceutical companies. The summary is sensationalized bullshit, but that part is true.

Comment: Re:Is scientific research free? (Score 1) 444

by martas (#49109047) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests
The source of funding isn't the problem, the only problem here is that he failed to disclose it several times. However, the summary is shamefully misleading, because it makes it sound like he literally got $1.2m in his pocket, which he didn't (and you're quite right, $120k a year isn't in any way a remarkable amount, especially considering that he probably had to pay a large portion, up to 50%, of that as overhead to his institution).

Comment: Re:So.... (Score 1) 265

Haha yeah sure, I'm not complaining about any of the past ones since I wouldn't be here without them, I just don't want any future ones. Kind of like how some historians thing the Mongol massacres were cool 'cause they helped move things along (and, you know, pretty much directly led to global European dominance), but probably wouldn't be all that giddy about, dunno, a nuclear holocaust even if it meant breaking the status quo to allow, say, sub-Saharan world dominance.

Comment: Re:So.... (Score 1) 265

If that were an even remotely-likely outcome, it would have happened. Life is extraordinarily good at surviving and evolving new equilibria.

That was merely an illustration that stable does not mean desirable, not a suggestion that such an outcome is likely.

Meh, the history of life on this planet is one long series of massive, unexpected perturbations, ranging from ice ages so severe that the equatorial seas are covered with several meters of ice, to massive volcanic eruptions that block most global insolation for years, to massive meteor strikes. In addition, the ice core records show that the planet has undergone radical climate change (much faster and more extreme than what we're currently seeing) without any cause at all as far as we can detect, as recent as 60K years ago.

Sure, and the history of life on earth is one of massive, unexpected mass extinctions, which often followed those massive, unexpected perturbations, because those aren't the kind of perturbations that natural systems can be robust against (hence my qualifier that the perturbations occur "regularly for a time"; you know, things like winter and summer, hurricanes, etc). It's certainly inevitable, but I'd rather not induce that on my own species any sooner than necessary.

Equally, we shouldn't ignore the fact that doing nothing at all (assuming we could) will also have disastrous consequences on our own habitat. Earth changes all the time, in all sorts of ways. If we want stability we need to learn to actively engineer the planet.

Yeah, I'm all for that. In the meantime, however, I'll continue to be a bit pissed off when some arrogant prick on slashdot trivializes all environmental concerns because he's apparently taken "higher-level math or engineering courses" and thinks he understands "how dynamic systems function". The nerve of that dumbass...

Comment: Re:So.... (Score 1) 265

Well duh. If all life on earth was destroyed, there'd be one hell of a stable equilibrium, but probably not one many of us would like to occur. Natural ecosystems can only be expected to be robust against perturbations they have faced regularly for a time, which usually doesn't include much of what humans do. As long as we rely on nature to survive, we shouldn't scoff at the idea that our actions can have disastrous consequences on our own habitat.

Comment: Re:Wonderful (Score 4, Insightful) 496

by martas (#48799059) Attached to: Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA and US Science Programs
"Saving?" They didn't just save, they actively advanced. Who do you think was at the forefront of medical, technological, scientific, and mathematical research in the middle ages? Who was it that was actively trying to understand how nature worked, because they believed it to be the way to get closer to god?

Comment: Re:Clickbait headline (Score 1) 436

by martas (#48496399) Attached to: Supreme Court To Decide Whether Rap Lyric Threats Are Free Speech

if threats are judged from the perspective of a reasonable recipient, rather than the intent of the sender, then the "oh, everyone makes death threats online, they'd never follow through" defense fizzles away.

Uh, you mean the opposite? If you can demonstrate that there really is an internet subculture where "everyone makes death threats", then surely you have demonstrated that at least in that subculture no reasonable recipient would interpret them literally? Assuming the "threat" is made within the context of that subculture, that is. Reasonableness has to be context dependent, after all.

What's the difference between a computer salesman and a used car salesman? A used car salesman knows when he's lying.

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