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Comment Re:As usual, more detail needed (Score 1) 115

Generally speaking you should never, ever change your behavior based on the results of a single study -- even a controlled, double-blind study, much less an epidemiological survey. You should wait for a comprehensive literature review paper in a high-impact peer reviewed journal before you consider a result reliable.

That said, correlation is still quite valuable -- to researchers. Science doesn't have the resources to come up with quick, definitive answers on a question like this, involving a complex system that is expensive and ethically tricky to monkey with. So science spends a lot of time doing safer, more affordable stuff like looking for epidemiological correlations, until it can justify spending a lot of rare research dollars on something more probative. And those dollars are about to get a lot rarer too.

Comment Re:Similar (Score 1) 182

Kiribati is going underwater. Does anyone else care? *sigh*

I could rob you and beat you to pulp. Would anyone else care? The answer is that wise people would care, because they'll know if I get away with that I'll be getting away with a lot more.

Same with climate change. Yes, Kiribati may disappear. But the Kiribatians aren't the only people who will pay; in fact most people in the world will end up paying. The way this works is that we all get some up front economic benefit from unregulated carbon emissions and we all pay for the consequences later, but the trick is that the benefits and costs aren't spread uniformly. Some people make a killing on cheap fossil fuel and then can move the bulk of the resulting assets out of the way of climate change. The worst hit are those whose wealth is in land -- the Kiribatians obviously, but also farmers in places which become unsupportably arid.

Comment Re: Oh well (Score 1) 182

I don't think it's greed. I think it's wishful thinking.

And it absolutely would be great if there were no downsides to burning all the fossil fuels we can lay our hands on. Most people on this site are too young to remember the smog we had in the 1960s and 1970s; they're imprinted on a time when gas was cheap, air was clean, and anthropogenic climate change was (as far as the general public was concerned) undreamt of. Who wouldn't want that to be true?

Comment This is not a sign of demand for suburban life (Score 3, Interesting) 191

This is a sign of a shortage of higher density living in the urban core. There are multiple reasons for that, the power of the NIMBY lobby being one of them. But for the demographic of young single professionals at the early stages of their careers, vibrant and compact walkable neighborhoods are so much in demand that rents are being driven sky high and lower income people are being displaced to the suburbs where they are either saddled with longer commutes of forced to find jobs on the periphery.

Suburbs are great for when you get a little older and want to raise a family, but in the meantime the city is where it's at.

Comment Re:In before global warming whiners... (Score 3, Insightful) 182

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/02/how-culture-clash-noaa-led-flap-over-high-profile-warming-pause-study

Rose's story ricocheted around right-wing media outlets, and was publicized by the Republican-led House of Representatives science committee, which has spent months investigating earlier complaints about the Karl study that is says were raised by an NOAA whistleblower. But Science Insider found no evidence of misconduct or violation of agency research policies after extensive interviews with Bates, Karl, and other former NOAA and independent scientists, as well as consideration of documents that Bates also provided to Rose and the Mail.

Instead, the dispute appears to reflect long-standing tensions within NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), based in Asheville, North Carolina, over how new data sets are used for scientific research. The center is one the nation’s major repositories for vetted earth observing data collected by satellites, ships, buoys, aircraft, and land-based instruments.

In the blog post, Bates says that his complaints provide evidence that Karl had his “thumb on the scale” in an effort to discredit claims of a warming pause, and his team rushed to publish the paper so it could influence national and international climate talks. But Bates does not directly challenge the conclusions of Karl's study, and he never formally raised his concerns through internal NOAA mechanisms.

Tuesday, in an interview with E&E News, Bates himself downplayed any suggestion of misconduct. “The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data, but rather really of timing of a release of a paper that had not properly disclosed everything it was,” he told reporter Scott Waldman. And Bates told ScienceInsider that he is wary of his critique becoming a talking point for those skeptical of human-caused climate change. But it was important for this conversation about data integrity to happen, he says. “That’s where I came down after a lot of soul searching. I knew people would misuse this. But you can't control other people,” he says.

At a House science committee hearing yesterday, Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS (publisher of Science and ScienceInsider) stood by the 2015 paper. "This is not the making of a big scandal—this is an internal dispute between two factions within an agency," Holt said in response to a question from Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), the panel’s chairman, and a longtime critic of NOAA’s role in the Karl paper. This past weekend, Smith issued a statement hailing Bates for talking about “NOAA’s senior officials playing fast and loose with the data in order to meet a politically predetermined conclusion.”

Some climate scientists are concerned that the hubbub is obscuring the more important message: that the NOAA research has generally proved accurate. “I’m a little confused as to why this is a big deal,” says Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist with Berkeley Earth, a California nonprofit climate research group that has examined surface temperatures. He’s the lead author of a paper published in January in Science Advances that found Karl’s estimates of sea surface temperature—a key part of the work—matched well with estimates drawn from other methods.

Researchers say the Karl paper’s findings are also in line with findings from the Met Office, the U.K. government’s climate agency, which preceded Karl’s work, and findings in a recent paper by scientists at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, an alliance of 34 states based in Reading, U.K. And although other researchers have reported evidence that the rise in global temperature has slowed recently, they have not challenged the ethics of Karl’s team, or the quality of the data they used.

Read on. It's worth it. The short of it: Bates was demoted by Karl several years back. Bates accepts both AGW, and the conclusions of Karl's paper, but decided to post a nitpicking complaint that he had used the ISTI land data in addition to the base NOAA data (the former of which isn't as high quality), without specifically commenting about the data source quality difference:

The Science paper would have been fine had it simply had a disclaimer at the bottom saying that it was citing research, not operational, data for its land-surface temperatures, Bates says.

But Mike Tanner, director of NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at NCEI, says there’s no NOAA policy that requires such a disclosure. “There's nothing. That doesn’t exist,” he says

The article also goes into the split within NOAA over how strongly to focus on new data and approaches that capture effects which old data and approaches might have missed, vs. old ones which are less accurate but more validated. The land data people tend to fall into the former category while the satellite people tend to fall in the later category. Karl was a land guy and Bates was a satellite guy.

It's interesting to read Bates' blog post with "Karl" replaced by "The guy who demoted me":

The most serious example of a climate scientist not archiving or documenting a critical climate dataset was the study of the Guy Who Demoted Me et al. 2015 (hereafter referred to as the Guy Who Demoted Me study or K15), purporting to show no ‘hiatus’ in global warming in the 2000s (Federal scientists say there never was any global warming “pause”). ... In the following sections, I provide the details of how the guy who demoted me failed to disclose critical information to NOAA, Science Magazine, and Chairman Smith regarding the datasets used in K15. I have extensive documentation that provides independent verification of the story below. I also provide my suggestions for how we might keep such a flagrant manipulation of scientific integrity guidelines and scientific publication standards from happening in the future. Finally, I provide some links to examples of what well documented CDRs look like that readers might contrast and compare with what the guy who demoted me has provided.

Comment Re:The actual real problem with Mars... (Score 4, Insightful) 102

The profit (a minority of their profit, it should be added) is coming from saving taxpayers money. What the heck is your problem with that?

If they were making some amount of launches cheaper - sure - but that's not the case.

Yes, it is the case; they cost vastly less than ULA.

Comment Re:The actual real problem with Mars... (Score 2) 102

What I *do* have a problem with is him parlaying this success into a full blown cult of personality

I'm sorry, I must have missed the speech where Musk announced that he is the savior of humanity and its new lord and master.

I'm sorry it gets under your skin that people appreciate the man and what he's doing, but that's hardly something he's been actively "parlaying this success into".

Comment Re:Maybe I'm missing something. . . (Score 2) 102

Most of SpaceX's launches are for private companies. And their real profit plan is satellite internet; these random couple dozen launches per year for the government and private companies is nothing compared to the value of being able to provide cheap high speed internet access everywhere on Earth without having to lay wires. But that requires thousands of satellites to be launched.

Interestingly enough, this also appears to be Blue Origin's profit plan, via their work with OneWeb.

Comment Re:The actual real problem with Mars... (Score 5, Insightful) 102

What's the problem with SpaceX getting government launch contracts? No, seriously. They're charging less than ULA and thus saving the government a ton of money. What's your huge problem with saving money and having the money that is spent go to a company that's focused on great things rather than some conglomerate of huge military-industrial giants?

I've never understood this animosity.

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 258

This gets down to something that used to be a common UI design principle before software became so feature-ful it became impractical: manifest interface.

The idea of a manifest interface (which also is a principle in language and API design) is that if the software has a capability you should be able to see it. You shouldn't have to root around to stumble upon it. Tabs follow this principle; there's enough visual and behavioral cues to suggest that you need to click on a tab. The little "x" in the tab also follows this principle.

But context menus you access by right-clicking break this rule, which means that there may be millions of people laboriously clicking on "x" after "x", unaware that they can make all the extraneous tabs in their browser disappear with just two clicks.

This, by the way, is why Macintoshes were designed with one button on the mouse. But even Mac UI designers couldn't get by with just single and double-click, so you have option-click too, bit by in large you could operate most programs without it.

Anyhow, to make sure people know about this kind of feature, your program is going to have to watch their behavior and suggest they try right clicking. But that way lies Clippy...

Comment Re:think of the children! (Score 4, Insightful) 150

Actually yes. Scientific or not, a list short enough for kids to learn in grade school is a damn good idea

Well, then, it's time to start teaching that there's only 8 rivers in the world, and all others are dwarf rivers and don't count as rivers. And 8 bones in the human body, the rest being dwarf bones that aren't really bones. And 8 particles in physics, and all others dwarf particles and don't count as particles. And 8 galaxies in the universe.... you get the picture.

. And for fuck's sake, Pluto and the other KBOs ARE DIFFERENT ENOUGH from the asteroids

Since we're apparently going into shouting mode, Pluto IS FAR MORE LIKE THE TERRESTRIAL PLANETS THAN THE TERRESTRIAL PLANETS ARE LIKE THE GAS GIANTS. If anything should be kicked out of the planet club, it's the gas giants.

The issue isn't whether KBOs should have their own classification. They do: KBOs. The question is whether it makes sense to group dissimilar objects (terrestrial planets and gas giants) but artificially exclude other objects in hydrostatic equilibrium, objects with active geology, internal differentiation, fluids, and all of the other hallmarks we associate with planets. Nature has given us a very clear dividing line: objects in hydrostatic equilibrium are where you go to see tectonics, mineralization, fluids, search for life, etc, while objects not in hydrostatic equilibrium are where you go to learn about the formation of the solar system, find its building blocks, learn about what life was built from, etc. Nature rarely gives us such meaningful dividing lines, but in this case, it has, and we should respect it.

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