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Comment We scientists need informal channels (Score 1) 288

We scientists invented email as a private, informal, asynchronous communication channel. The business world adopted it as a formal communication mechanism, and now those expectations are being forced on the culture which (please recall) invented the internet and its culture in the first place. But we don't need or use email that way. We need a way to chat with each other.

A generation of science has evolved with this informal communication mechanism. Please recall that key features of science are the global distribution of the community and the small membership of each subgroup. An informal and friendly channel is needed to keep up morale when many of your closest collaborators are thousands of miles away and not easily able to join you at the pub.

If you suddenly declare that we are government agents and that every communication is a formal statement on behalf of that government, we will be thoroughly incapacitated and demoralized. This idea that life as a scientist is supposed to suck is really not well-advised as a policy.

But in fact we should not be viewed as government agents. Rather we are contractors. We are paid by bidding on competitive RFPs. If you want to treat us as bureaucrats you should at least bring back job security.

Comment Re:But is that what they are saying? (Score 1) 771

There are plenty of people who are anti-science (that is, anti-points 1 and/or 2, and necessarily argue illogically about it). If you are lumped into that category by disagreeing with points 3 and/or 4, you are in fact on thin ice if you really understand the implications of 1 and 2.

But there is room to make the case against 3 or 4 relatively reasonably. This doesn't prevent people from making those cases unreasonably as well.

So if you're a victim of occasional false positives, I am sorry. But given what is going on around you it is not surprising. Try to start by acknowledging the parts you do accept. And then proceed by identifying how likely it might be that you are wrong on the points where you part ways, and what the risks are.

Not many people do that effectively. I'll still argue against them, respectfully. But despite the sensible observation, the best bet is still that you are talking, um, through your hat.

Comment Re:TFA: -1 Troll (Score 1) 771

Either "side" of what? Once you pick sides, rational discourse is out the window.

Sensible people care about what is true. This information is useful to people concerned about the relationship between science and public opinion. It's important whenever there are motivated opinions preventing the public from taking a balanced view of the evidence.

Comment More strange weather events (Score 3, Informative) 618

If Slashdot covering a weather story isn't a climate-scale outlier, I don't know what is.

Here's another strange fact: on March 18 the low temperature in Rochester MN exceeded the previous record high for that date.

I'm working on an essay linking this event to anthropogenic climate change ("global warming") which will appear on Planet3.0.

(For what it's worth I might as well submit a Slashdot story when it's up. Hose my host - see if I care.)

Comment Barry Bickmore has the Scoop (Score 3, Informative) 954

Prof Bickmore of BYU has been working hard at debunking Spencer's endless efforts to find nothing where there is something (after all, an easier task than the other way around). The latest is here, and a catalog of Bickmore's readings of Spencer is here.

Here's more: Climate Change Debunked? Not So Fast

The paper was mostly unnoticed in the public sphere until the Forbes blogger declared it "extremely important."

Dessler, the A&M climatologist said that he doubted the research would shift the political debate around global warming.

"It makes the skeptics feel good, it irritates the mainstream climate science community, but by this point, the debate over climate policy has nothing to do with science," Dessler said. "It's essentially a debate over the role of government," surrounding issues of freedom versus regulation.

Spencer himself is up front about the politics surrounding his work. In July, he wrote on his blog that his job "has helped save our economy from the economic ravages of out-of-control environmental extremism," and said he viewed his role as protecting "the interests of the taxpayer."

Slashdot editors, please try to remember that a single paper normally doesn't overturn scientific understanding, and try to avoid habitual hype sources. Thanks.

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