Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Global warming and mod points. An apology for overrated

So I finally have mod points again, and there's a new discussion about global warming. It's another occasion when slashdotters can show their scientific insight to be on par with the rest of the people out there -- the janitors, the waitresses, the scientists, the clowns and the teachers, and everyone else not reading Slashdot. Most people have little understanding of science, and that goes for slashdotters as well.

I'm not a scientist myself (although I do have six years of university education), but I'm a bit fed up with the apologists writing things like ' I'll believe in global warming the minute "scientists" find something to agree on'. As if it's not proper science if there's little consensus, and if there's no One True Way. If there is just one un-scientific lesson science can teach us, it must be that consensus can be wrong. Science is work, and work in progress, not a collection of undeniable truth. I'm not going to be more specific than that, since different sciences have to have different methods, and I'm not going to exclude even for example history or sociology just because they don't fit in with the methodological demands of physics, which also completely fails to explain historical or social phenomena. So let's just be vague about it, and say science is about trying to explain stuff. Falsifiability gives a way to test whether a theory or hypothesis can explain what it claims to explain, and is therefore usually demanded in the more serious hard sciences.

The fact that claims like 'There is not going to be a climate change, so we should do nothing to prevent one' is more easily falsifiable than 'There is going to be one, if we don't prevent it by not burning so much fossil fuel' does not make it any more scientific, though. Both are (most of the time) uninformed opinion. So is mine. I fear climate change, and I base my fear on the fact that CO2 levels have been rising steadily since measurements were started (pdf with graph linked here), and that the weather is changing (just ask the insurance companies). Therefore, I find the first kind of uninformed opinion most irritating, and I'll mod accordingly. I'm not abusive, though.

I've written earlier that I dislike the rampant abuse of 'overrated' in discussions like this one, so I feel I have to apologize for giving one to this. But what else could I do? It was modded up twice as 'insightful', but it doesn't have any insight. Neither is it a troll, maybe not even completely wrong. Perhaps we can't really affect the climate. Perhaps we can. Anyway, what made me mod it down was the following:

I think its rather presumptuous to assume man can have any impact on the weather. But maybe some of you fear that we could lower the global temp if we all opened our refregerator doors in unision. A volcano can dump more greenhouse gasses in an hour than man can produce in a year. We can little affect the global climate fir good or bad. We can only go with the flow.

The second sentence is disgustingly condescending, but the rest of the reasoning is purely mythical (oh, and I see from the replies that his comment has got that the volcano thingie was just plain wrong). What's the insight in this? There's none. This is just a belief.

Oh, and I also apologize for not writing better (intellectually) about science. English isn't my first language, so it's often hard enough for me complete sentences. I think I was just trying to say that some people should have a bit more respect for people trying to understand things they don't understand themselves.


Journal Journal: And we thought Firefox was taking over for MSIE 2, Norway's second largest website, with 187 million pageviews last month, released some interesting statistics for browser use. This is an ordinary tabloid newspaper, so users should be pretty ordinary too. It seems like Mozilla/Firefox are less popular than most of us thought -- at least in Norway:

1. MSIE 6.0, 85.37 %
2. MSIE 5.5, 3.31 %
3. MSIE 5.01, 2.09 %
4. Opera 7.54, 1.54 %
5. MSIE 5.0, 1.40 %
6. Mozilla Firefox 0.10, 0.89 %
7. Opera 7.23, 0.66 %
8. Mozilla Firefox 0.9, 0.65 %
9. Opera 7.50, 0.46 %
10. Netscape 5.0, 0.40 %

I find it more interesting that OS X still hasn't taken over older Mac OSes, and is less popular than Linux. But even put together, the "alternative" OSes are almost statistically insignificant:

1. Windows XP, 62.14 %
2. Windows 2000, 22.42 %
3. Windows 98, 7.42 %
4. Windows NT, 4.0 3.82 %
5. Windows ME, 1.96 %
6. MacOS, 0.78 %
7. Linux, 0.60 %
8. MacOS X, 0.40 %
9. Windows 95, 0.35 %
10. Macintosh PPC, 0.04 %

Journal Journal: Why Slashdot sucks

Real discussion is impossible on Slashdot. For anything remotely controversial, like global warming, moderators with nothing to say go amok with -1 overrated and flamebait mods. It's especially the first one that annoys me, since the moderators can't be smacked down for abuse in metamod, and overrated is too often abused. It reminds me a bit of Ned Flanders in the episode where Homer stops being stupid after having a crayon removed from his brain:

Homer: Better. I was working on a flat tax proposal and I accidentally proved there's no God. [shows Flanders a sheet of paper with complex figuring on it]
Ned: [flustered] We'll just see about that. [reads the paper] Uh-oh. Well, maybe he made a mistake. [checks it again] Nope, it's airtight. Can't let this little doozy get out. [uses a lighter to burn the "proof"]

OK, maybe that's over-valuing my comment here. To me, it seemed like stating the obvious -- not particularly insightful, but true nonetheless. Never has one of my comments been modded quicker. Flamebait. How the hell was I baiting for flames? It's hard to tell, because noone will read the comment so they can flame me.

And no, the problem isn't particular for my comment. Several others, from what I could see all on the side that value free science above the science of corporate funded "independent" research, and not bothering to "balance" their view, were smacked down.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Mr. Watson, come here, I want you." -- Alexander Graham Bell