The author doesn’t claim any such thing and the article is actually a quite nice read. The headline here stretches the hyperbole of the original headline quite a bit too much, though.
I liked the article. He used an emotionally-charged topic as a hook, didn't take sides, and instead taught me something about a cool language.
Great HN post.
This is written in C++, and you can plot the data in numerous different ways, including individual weather stations if you wish.
Meanwhile, from the adults who use crazy concepts like "sattelite data" and "arithmetic mean": http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE61O02C20100225
Last month was the hottest january on record.
EDIT: Not to take anything away from the guy -- cool code, cool app. But to those who are trumpeting this -- maybe you should take a look at that "hottest january on record" article and take a look at the methods that were used to arrive at that conclusion.
It's not about the methods, it's about the conclusions? If they agree with me, the methods are ok, if they don't, they're a biased scientist conspiracy?
What the hell.. if someone was linking to an amateur analysis saying that log n was more expensive than n^2, would we be getting all of this philosophy about how everyone's perspective is valuable?
data, code => cool => upvote
statement by some organization with no data, no analysis => boring => downvote
Building up open and transparent datasets and models that anyone can work with (or lacking the domain expertise and technical skill, at least be comfortable that somebody can watch over the scientists' shoulders) is exactly what's needed.
Another article that trumpets talking points without mentioning all of the caveats is NOT needed. And the fact that it yet again implies a need for action, while entirely ignoring any assessment the costs of those effects, together with a weighing against the costs of remediation, puts the Reuters article squarely into the fearmongering side of the equation, 180 degrees off of rational debate.
Not to mention that scientists generally have no vested monetary interest in the results, despite what people here seem to think. Grant money can only be used for research, not for personal gain. By going into the sciences, instead of industry, you are willingly taking a massive loss in pay. To claim that these people are corrupt is both an insult and naive. Like any area, there will be a few bad apples.
Not at all. Being open with your data and methods make you (more) trustworthy. Stonewalling and avoiding disclosure makes you untrustworthy. It has nothing to do with your role, but with how you play it.
if a scientist falsifies data and gets caught, their entire career can be lost.
Which of the East Anglia scientists lost their careers, or even their job? (I understand that there's no real evidence that they falsified data, just some implication. But they were badly unethical.)
Not to mention that scientists generally have no vested monetary interest in the results, despite what people here seem to think. Grant money can only be used for research, not for personal gain.
The continuation of their research is personal gain. A conclusion of "nothing interesting going on here" means they've got to find a new area of research, find new grant sources, etc. If they happen to find evidence of something scary, that gives them job security. I have no proof that they followed this line of thought, but it is definitely a conflict of interest.
That said, virtually anyone involved in the field is there because they've got some passion for it, so probably everyone has some degree of conflict.
The fact that someone made a choice that leads to a lower pay scale does not make them above corruption. You may as well ask me to believe that the NEA's sole concern is teaching kids, rather than preserving their members' benefits.
Or maybe you have fallen for the propaganda of the denialists? Anyway, I think usually the actual scientific papers come with data references (otherwise they are indeed useless), but there is also a place for articles that normal people can understand. Not everybody wants or can code up their own verification program for every scientific article they come across.
Has it dawned on you that use of the word is a kind of own goal? "Hey folks, we believe in the true religion and must rout those non-believers!"
I was only using the word "denialist" to shorten the sentence - what would have been an appropriate word, then?
Ahem. Conspiring to thwart freedom of information laws is something that is bound to happen in large scale undertakings? Either you're propagandizing yourself, or you're someone that I really don't want working for my company.
The glacier thing was characterized as a "typographical error", which itself is clearly intended to minimize the ethical breach. A "typographical error" is one related to the typography -- maybe transposing digits, or accidently chopping off the bottom of a page or something. It clearly does not apply to errors of judgment, including non-reviewed sources as if they're factual.
None of this refutes AGW, which is actually my point. It makes us all wary. And the cure for that is openness and transparency. A battle of ad hominem attacks doesn't do anything for either side of the debate. But in the long run, building a case that we can all trust because we watched it being erected is to the benefit of all -- tree huggers and denialists alike.
When did that happen? If you are referring to the leaked emails, I don't think the case is so clear. Unless you want to believe it to be so.
The glaciers: don't remember the exact details, but wasn't it some relatively informal publication where the boss of the organization slipped something in without verifying with his scientists? Sounds more like sloppiness - although they should have uncovered the error sooner. But who knows, they might have had other things on their mind. I don't know how many scientists actually think about Himalayan glaciers on a daily basis (do you?). Except for the ones living in the Himalayan, one of was asked over the phone and apparently misinterpreted.
In any case, I don't think that error was made in an actual scientific paper, it was more part of general propaganda and politics. Not that I like it at all, but I don't see how it discredits the science as a whole.
In fact, I personally think dwelling on minor details and trying to blow them up to be elephants is a major indicator of revisionism.
This is what I did some time ago:
A recurring argument among denialist is that data are someone tricked to show things that aren't true. Some of those claims can actually be tested, but one needs to know what they are talking about.
"I've made a number of small mistakes and inappropriate design decisions in this post (some deliberate, or at least, some I'm aware of, others are accidental). But, given the published and freely downloadable weather data, the code listed here, and - of course - the excellent free and open source newLISP language, it should be possible for anyone to retrace my steps, find my mistakes, and present a more credible or compelling view of the same dataset."
Since I'm interested in information design (especially right now) I was quite disappointed with the graph he ultimately produced. I'm hoping someone with a bit more time than me takes up his challenge and goes back to correct some of his mistakes (in both analysis and storytelling). I'd rather like to do it myself but I doubt that's going to happen anytime soon.
Ultimately, a compelling story about how we as humans require stories for understanding, and how important it is to verify the stories that we choose to believe.
If you're interested, his response is here:
I wonder how stable the Gulf stream is over time.
1) it is an apparently unbiased inquiry, which means a lot. The allegations against leading climate change scientists, whether they are valid or not, highlight an inescapable reality about the world of academic geologists (no matter how "inconvenient" of a truth it is): like many scientists, these people need to raise large amounts of funding for relatively boring projects (i.e. ice samples anyone?). But if they tie in their research to a hot (no pun), visible issue (as rendered by the media and politicians, regardless of its scientific merit), then BAM! It's a lot easier to get funding. Hence, climate scientists have a huge incentive to paint global warming as massive, urgent big problem, whether or not it actually is. Seeing data crunched by an amateur, who has the skills to process it, but not the incentives to skew it, means a lot.
2) Even though it only shows weather data from a single region, "global warming" would presumably be a global phenomenon that one could detect from basically any location (and if this is not the case, then the press needs to revise its doomsday scenarios about global warming necessarily flooding New York City and Shanghai, because if it's only occurring in some places, then we shouldn't use data gathered in Canada to predict catastrophe in East Asia.)
I'm not claiming to know the scientific truth about this issue one way or the other, but I do know that there are a lot of forces at play here besides science (funding incentives, politics, news media sensationalism, green energy business interests, etc.), and I think a return to the data is a great place to start unraveling this issue that is far more complex than Al Gore or his opposite Dick Cheney would have you believe.
As the author says, a picture is a story. His story is "at an extremely high level we have seasonal temperature fluctuation."
Your entire second point shows a complete misunderstanding of well, everything.
Item 1, which seems to me to be a completely unsubstantiated ad hominem. You could use that same argument to reject any science you don't want to hear.
There is room for scientific doubt about whether this is caused by CO2 -- it's a greenhouse gas but correlation != causation and all that.
But if you conclude that the earth isn't actually warming, you're doing it wrong -- there's no doubt about that.
2. Extrapolating from a single data set leads to huge biases in interpretation. There are too many uncontrolled variables to say anything meaningful beyond what the temperature in this city has averaged. I think the rate of change that people are worried about in overall temps would probably not even register on this graph clearly.
If you are going to criticize how science is done, you should probably learn more about how it is done.
And some basic statistics.
And to the author's credit, the observations made are not conclusions in themselves.
People here don't respect science and think they're smarter than they really are.
All it shows is that someone without scientific training is incapable of drawing conclusions from data out of context; they can't "check for yourself". I tought the only people that don't know this are journalists, bloggers and politicians.
Valid scientific investigations don't require scientific training. This person, who wrote some code and plotted some numbers on a graph may know more about math and programming and data visualization than many of those running weather stations, so it isn't productive to say this person has nothing to contribute because he's someone without scientific training.
You don't even know that statement is true. Regardless of its truth, the numbers, the code, and the result should speak for themselves. It doesn't matter whether the investigator is trained in science or not.
As a "trained" computer engineer, I am personally capable of taking a raw data set and plotting their numbers on a chart and drawing conclusions from them.
Of course there are additional steps one could take with this data to help the human mind comprehend it. I'll tell you one thing for sure, the chart looks nothing like this scary one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Instrumental_Temperature_R...
Why? If you have scientific training, refute the facts, write another set of code, analyze the data and see what you get. Is it different? Can you replicate the results?
Or can you just say this person doesn't have any scientific training and write him off? Personally I think it's awesome that someone is taking the initiative to test a hypothesis. Really, there is nothing more scientific than that. It takes work and I commend this person.
Valid scientific investigation doesn’t require scientific training. That’s certainly correct. That doesn’t mean, though, that every investigation has the same weight. I have no expert knowledge. How am I supposed to know whether an amateur is brilliant or crazy? Academic credentials are more often than not a useful filter to figure just that out. Not perfect, but better than giving everything equal weight.
(Cue conspiracy theories about the academic establishment and generous East Anglia email quoting – NOW! :)
Very interestingly, your examples only add to my point. Plato didn't had a degree in philosophy because philosophy was just being "invented"; Socrates (his master, btw) had just brought rigor to the sophists blabering. And Galileo didn't get a degree in astronomy mostly because it didn't exist by then. He did however get one in mathematics and tought astronomy in a university before he made his observations to support Copernicus' model. You see, both men where very far from amateurs giving opinions in a complex field.
> Valid scientific investigations don't require scientific training.
Bulshit. Most of times it does. Particularly in complex matters. That's why the peer review process matters. Numbers don't "speak for themselves"; that's why we talk about "lies, damned lies and statistics".
As a pratical exercise, I'd suggest you, as a "trained computer engineer", to let your projects to be designed and implemented by a non-trained computer engineer. You'd know what I mean.
Einstein's 1905 works, specifically the Annus Mirabilis papers, lacked the formal review process we understand today, but were certainly reviewed by the two Nobel prize-winning physicists who selected them for publication in their journal. The formal review panel concept simply did not exist at the time outside of the medical fields, but that is not to say there was no stringent editorial control or gatekeeping in physics journals, and certainly not in Annalen der Physik. If anything, Einstein was subject to a far less fair and inclusive process.
The "Check for yourself" part is only in the editorialized headline, implying that the READER of the article is capable of drawing his own conclusions. This is obviously dishonest, because you can't draw your own conclusions unless you do the research yourself (like the independent researcher who wrote the article did).
The No Spin Zone (O'Reilly) uses the "We present the facts, YOU DECIDE" mantra. So do most conspiracy theory movies: "We'll just show you MONEY IS DEBT, and AMERICA is due for RUIN. But is this bad? YOU DECIDE!"
And so on.
But for any scientific work this is unacceptable, because the way in which you present the results matter. Pick one scale on a graph and people will assume the problem is huge, pick a logarithmic scale and people will conclude there is no problem. It's the responsibility of the researcher to both present the facts and to explain what they mean.
The you-decide tactic is manipulative, and it doesn't belong in HN titles.
- I should note that I don't have any issue with the article itself. I liked it, and I commend independent research.