I was fiddling around earlier and decided to retake the quiz just to see if my 31 was a fluke. Well, it wasn't. This time I score 32.
February 2010 Archives
I was fiddling around earlier and decided to retake the quiz just to see if my 31 was a fluke. Well, it wasn't. This time I score 32.
A spokesman for the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) has told reporters to expect an announcement next week that would offer a "credible, sensible review of how the IPCC operates." The decision was apparently made during UNEP's meeting this week in Bali, Indonesia, amid growing criticism of IPCC. It would be the most significant review by outsiders, and could therefore have a significant influence in the court of public opinion.(source)
Eli Kintsch points out that there isn't a formal mechanism to review the IPCC. Although it was established by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization, the founding documents don't provide any mechanism by which UNEP can oversee or influence the IPCC's operations.
Of course that's the formal, legal situation. Clearly, if UNEP and WMO commission an independent review, it seems very likely that the nations that fund the IPCC's work will insist that most or all of the recommendations in that review be adopted. It doesn't seem to me that the lack of a formal mechanism for review poses much of a problem.
Given the recent challenges to the IPCC's credibility,a thorough independent review is an important way that the public's trust in its scientific assessments can be rebuilt.
In 2006 Joseph Weiler, a Joseph Strauss Professor of Law and European Union Jean Monnet Chaired Professor at NYU, received The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court: ICTY and ICTR Precedents for review on Global Law Books. The review was published in early 2007. You can read it at http://www.globallawbooks.org/reviews/detail.asp?id=298. The review is short and critical. Here's an excerpt:
A book on ICC "Trial Proceedings" is thus timely and welcome. What the reader - and presumably the judges of the Court as well - would hope to receive is a principled analysis of the Court's general procedural structure as well as suggestions for the possible resolution of some of the "hard questions" that have been left open by the drafters of the legal instruments pertaining to the Court's operation. Regrettably, Karin Calvo-Goller's book does not offer either.Tough words to be sure. An expression of opinion. Absolutely. But according to Weiler, who is editor of the European Journal of International Law, the author of that review is a distinguished scholar. So far nothing particularly unusual -- distinguished scholar writes harsh review of a book and the editor of the journal who asked him for the review publishes it.
Here's where things get weird.
A few months after the book review appeared, Weiler received a letter from the book's author asking that the review be removed from Global Law Books. The author complained that the review "contains false factual statements which the author of the review...could not reasonably believe to be true" and that the review was libelous. Weiler's reply1 is very temperate, and he argues persuasively that a review could be retracted "only in most egregious circumstances of, say, bad faith, conflict of interest, etc." If you expect that to be the end of the case, you would be wrong.
After a further exchange of letters, Weiler received a subpoena to appear before a French Examining Judge. Following that appearance he learned that on 25 June 2010 he will stand trial before a criminal court in Paris for refusing to remove the book review. He is asking for letters of support (preferably on letterhead indicating your affiliation) and for scanned or digital copies (including full bibliographic information) of equally critical published book reviews to EJIL.firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments at CrookedTimber will also be collected and forwarded.
I urge you to offer your support to Professor Weiler. He deserves it.
NASA'S Goddard Institute for Space Studies has put together an excellent website on global climate change. The video above is only one of many valuable resources available for anyone interested in what the best science available has to say about the future of our earth's climate. Among the things that you'll learn: the decade from 2000-2009 is the hottest ever recorded.
To promote the preservation and fuller use of data, Evolution and other key journals in evolution and ecology will soon introduce a new data-archiving policy. This policy will state:
Evolution requires, as a condition for publication, that data used in the paper should be archived in an appropriate public archive, such as GenBank, TreeBASE, Dryad, the NCEAS Data Repository or as supplementary online material associated with the paper published in Evolution. The data should be given with sufficient details that, together with the contents of the paper, it allows each result in the published paper to be recreated. Authors may elect to have the data publicly available at time of publication, or, if the technology of the archive allows, may opt to embargo access to the data for a period up to a year after publication. Exceptions may be granted at the discretion of the editor, especially for sensitive information such as the location of endangered species.
This policy will be introduced in approximately a year, after a period during which authors are encouraged to voluntarily place their data in a public archive. Data that have an established standard repository, such as DNA sequences, should continue to be archived in the appropriate repository, such as GenBank. For other, more idiosyncratic data, the data can be placed in a more flexible database such as the NSF-sponsored Dryad archive at datadryad.org.
One comment: Unless you know you're going to be using your own computer for a presentation or you're sure the computer you're going to use has the fonts you want, you are (unfortunately) better off staying with standard, boring fonts (Helvetica/Arial, Times New Roman), Text spacing can be horribly thrown off when the fonts you used are substituted automagically with others. My BSA Presidential Address suffered from that, and I was scrambling at the last minute to reformat several of the slides.
Hat tip: Coturnix
On some morning or afternoon or evening, sometime in 2006, Ebert took his last bite and sip, and he spoke his last word. ("Roger Ebert: the essential man", by Chris Jones, Esquire)
The enormous challenges he has faced over the last four years have revealed an even larger spirit. Here are some of his words, spoken through Alex, the voice on his MacBook Pro.
I know it [death] is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear, he writes in a journal entry titled "Go Gently into That Good Night." I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.
Ebert infected all of us with his joy when we watched him on TV. He made us all a little happier. And he has done it far better than most of us can hope to do.
Four panels of experts will release consensus reports in 2010:
I am envious of those who are able to draw. Every now and again I'll pull out a pad of Strathmore drawing paper and a good pencil to give it a shot, but the results are never good. I've even spent time practicing and trying to develop the hand-eye coordination needed to do it. At best my drawings might have recognizable subjects, but never has any of them had a graceful line. Whether it's because I'm a complete klutz, because my eyesight is awful, because I am a lousy observer of life and the world, or (most likely) because I am all three, you really don't want to see any drawings I've attempted.1
Eyes on Screen: Communicating Science in the New Information AgeSunday, February 21, 2010: 8:30 AM-11:30 AMRoom 9 (San Diego Convention Center)Data on information use patterns in the United States suggest that the screen now trumps the printed page as the favored information conveyer. Americans extract their science information predominately from television and the Internet and, although still heavily print-based, communication within the science culture is also rapidly transitioning to online platforms. While print channels will continue to serve as important homes for narrative, both popular and professional, media and science outlets are experimenting with delivering science information on screen in thoughtful and analytical ways. In this session, the panel will explore some of those efforts.Organizer:Sharon Dunwoody, University of Wisconsin
Co-Organizer:Lynne Friedmann, Friedmann Communications
Moderator:Lynne Friedmann, Friedmann Communications
Supporting Scientists To Tell Their Own Story
There are several other symposia on communicating science. If you happen to be in San Diego and attend any of those sessions, please leave a comment here and let the rest of us know what we missed.
On Sunday, the folks at RealClimate offer their own assessment of recent events:
Overall then, the IPCC assessment reports reflect the state of scientific knowledge very well. There have been a few isolated errors, and these have been acknowledged and corrected. What is seriously amiss is something else: the public perception of the IPCC, and of climate science in general, has been massively distorted by the recent media storm. All of these various "gates" - Climategate, Amazongate, Seagate, Africagate, etc., do not represent scandals of the IPCC or of climate science. Rather, they are the embarrassing battle-cries of a media scandal, in which a few journalists have misled the public with grossly overblown or entirely fabricated pseudogates, and many others have naively and willingly followed along without seeing through the scam. It is not up to us as climate scientists to clear up this mess - it is up to the media world itself to put this right again, e.g. by publishing proper analysis pieces like the one of Tim Holmes and by issuing formal corrections of their mistaken reporting. We will follow with great interest whether the media world has the professional and moral integrity to correct its own errors. (emphasis added)I'm afraid I have to disagree with the folks at RealClimate on that highlighted point. Granted, they have a lot more experience in dealing with the media than I, but it seems to me that if the media makes errors in reporting science, it is our responsibility as scientists to hold them accountable. We can't get the stories out without the journalist's help.3 We can't write and publish the stories, but we can and should contact journalists who get stories wrong (and their editors). What right have we to complain about errors in news coverage if we do nothing to correct them?
Human-induced warming of the climate system is established fact.
The bold type is there in the original. And here is how it concludes:
When it comes to radiative forcing of global climate change, it is abundantly clear that whether we like it or not, or whether we care to admit it, it is humans who are driving the bus.
I haven't been able to find the Fish & Wildlife Service announcement, but it sounds like a "safe harbor" agreement, similar to the one reached for the red cockaded woodpecker. There must be something different about it though. Why else would they refer to it as "the first of its kind for a bird being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act." Maybe it's because the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service declined to list it, while the red cockaded woodpecker is listed.
|Image from Wikipedia|
Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995 (source)
But it's not true at all. Consider what RealClimate has to say, or if you don't like them read Alex Knapp at Outside the Beltway. His conclusion?
Whether you accept the hypothesis of global climate change or not-and I know that many readers here do not-I'm sure we can all agree that shoddy reporting like the Daily Mail article ought to be repudiated. It's a deliberate misinterpretation of a fascinating interview (I'd highly recommend reading the interview, though-the reporter asking the questions clearly knows his stuff and it is not a softball).And OpenMind has a wonderful analogy to drive home the foolishness of trying to draw a conclusion about long-term trends over spans of only a few years.
The horror of this case, besides the obvious human loss, is the sheer randomness of it. Although the facts are still streaming in, it doesn't look like any reasonable measures could have prevented it. Bishop wasn't trespassing; she was still an employee there. Short of patdowns of every person every time they come on campus, she wouldn't have been stopped."The sheer randomness of it." That is what's so horrifying. While we may, eventually, be able to connect the threads from this killing spree back to earlier incidents in Amy Bishop's life,1 I doubt that there we will find an obvious "fix" that would prevent something like this from happening again, "short of patdowns of every person every time they come on campus."2 I would also urge all of us to resist the temptation to argue from anecdote. The killings at Huntsville are the tragic result of a disturbed mind that we may never understand. They are not an example from which to generalize.
Inside Higher Ed has a summary of what was known as of Monday morning, including links to several other sources.
I cannot imagine the horror those in the room must have felt.
More visitors use Firefox than Internet Explorer. Granted, Firefox wins by only 7 visits out of 49792, but I was surprised to see it come out ahead.
According to NetMarketShare, Internet Explorer has 62% of the internet browser market share, while Firefox has only 24%. I'm a big fan of Firefox myself,3 and I'm delighted to see that visitors to this site have better taste in browsers than the average Internet denizen.
[T]his is a big and shocking story because most cultures regard university campuses as places distinguished by their pursuit of reason in a context of civility. Professors may be ridiculed (Sarah Palin, on the speaking trail, is currently getting a lot of mileage out of merely calling Barack Obama a professor), but for many people professors continue to embody intellectual dispassion, a judicious consideration of the world. The eruption of rage and slaughter among professors -- the emergence of a mass killer from the professoriate -- is indeed absolutely shocking.
Dr. Amy Bishop, charged with capital murder in Friday's UAH campus shootings, did not face a hearing or learn of a decision this past week regarding her tenure, campus officials said Saturday.The attack was a horrible tragedy for biology department and for everyone at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. It reminds us how fragile and precious human life is.
In fact, Bishop was denied tenure last April, said Dr. Lewis Radonovich, former provost and current vice president at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. ("UAH shooting suspect Amy Bishop denied tenure in April, had already lost appeal", by Challen Stephens, Huntsville Times, 14 February 2010)
UAH officials said Bishop, who has been an assistant professor at UAH since fall 2003, was up for tenure but said the faculty meeting had nothing to do with the tenure discussion. Huntsville police and the district attorney's office refused to discuss a possible motive. ("Police find gun used in UAH shooting in bathroom, more charges pending against Amy Bishop", Huntsville Times, 13 February 2010)This is from the Boston Globe:
The University of Alabama biology professor accused of slaying three of her colleagues fatally shot her brother in an apparent accident in Massachusetts more than two decades ago, a local police chief said.
UPDATE (10:00am): Amy Bishop has been charged with murder.
On Friday afternoon at 4:00pm three biology faculty members at the University of Alabama Huntsville were killed by a shooter in a 3rd floor conference room of the Shelby Center. Two more members of the biology faculty and one staff member were wounded. The incident apparently occurred during a faculty meeting.
Although police have not confirmed the identity of the shooter, but news reports have identified her as Amy Bishop.1According to the Huntsville Times, Dr. Bishop "is considered one of the University of Alabama in Huntsville's research stars."
The dead are:
- G. K. Podila, the department's chairman;
- Maria Ragland Davis
- Adriel D. Johnson Sr.
- Luis Rogelio Cruz-Vera
- Joseph G. Leahy
- Stephanie Monticciolo
|9 p.m. UAH briefing|
There's also a story from yesterday's Good Monring America.
"Penguins are sentinels. I see them as global sentinels," Boersma said. "They're telling us what's happening on land as well as in the water."
Boersma knelt down to look at a penguin pair she's been tracking for years. A penguin waddles up beside her, looks at her curiously, then grabs for her pen. Boersma can't resist a laugh.
It is easy to share her fascination with these endlessly entertaining creatures. But while the science here has some obvious -- and charming -- dividends, it is serious.
Through the science, Boersma said, the penguins are telling us something about the planet we share, and that we need to listen to them.
Bain refers to an article by Abou Halloun and David Hestenes1 showing that students entering physics courses at Arizona State University had intuitive notions of physics incompatible with Newtonian mechanics, or as they put it, students held "a cross between Aristotelian and 14th-century impetus ideas."2 That's not too surprising. But since most people who graduate from college probably never take a physics course and since most Americans never go to college, that means most adults have intuitive notions of physics incompatible with Newtonian mechanics.
And it doesn't stop there.
Halloun and Hestenes administered the same test to students after they finished the course and found that the course had only a small impact on those prior beliefs. The pre-course average in the physics with calculus course was 51%. The post-course average was 64%. Informal peer opinion and student course evaluations suggest that the four professors involved are all good teachers. One even received awards for outstanding teaching -- twice. In a companion study,3 Halloun and Hestenes interviewed some of the students, showed them experiments indicating that their intuitive understanding was wrong, and often found that "the students still refused to give up their mistaken ideas about motion" (Bain, p. 23).
Rather than throwing up their hands and complaining about how stupid or unteachable physics students are, Halloun and Hestenes take a different tack:
Historians tell us about the long and difficult critique of CS [common sense] beliefs that prepared the way for the "Newtonian revolution." If the evaluation of common sense was so difficult for the intellectual giants from Aristotle to Galileo, we should not be surprised to find that it is a problem for ordinary students today. Accordingly, common sense beliefs should be treated with genuine respect by instructors. They should be regarded as serious alternative hypotheses to be evaluated by scientific procedures. This would provide students with sound reasons for modifying their beliefs beyond the mere authority of teacher and textbook.
What does this mean for communicating science to a broad public?
Here's a little bit about the news from the NEON website:
"This is a great affirmation of the decades of work put in by the scientific community, and a win for science in general," said David Schimel, NEON CEO. "NEON and its partners in science, education, and environmental management and stewardship will create new opportunities for understanding, predicting and responding to environmental change on a grand scale."
Even if you don't normally Play YouTube videos, you have to play this one. The remix (thanks to John Boswell at Symphony of Science) is amazing.
The Symphony of Science is a musical project headed by John Boswell designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. Here you can watch music videos, download songs, read lyrics and find links relating to the messages conveyed by the music.You can follow Symphony of Science on YouTube or Twitter.
My colleague, Andy Bush, studies the mass extinction at the end of the Devonian. (The photo at the left is of Andy looking at fossils in his lab.) There's a nice article in UConn Today describing his work. Click through and read more.
Michael Mann, the climatologist from Pennsylvania State University who has been under attack by foes of restrictions on greenhouse gases and critics of the dominant view that human-driven warming is occurring and dangerous, has been cleared on three points of inquiry by a faculty review panel at the university, John Broder of The Times reports. A fourth question will be investigated further.
From John Broder's article:
Dr. Mann, in an e-mail response to a request for comment, said he was pleased that the panel had found "no evidence of any of the allegations against me."
"Three of the four allegations have been dismissed completely," he wrote. "Even though no evidence to substantiate the fourth allegation was found, the University administrators thought it best to convene a separate committee of distinguished scientists to resolve any remaining questions about academic procedures. This is very much the vindication I expected since I am confident I have done nothing wrong."
What does this mean for those who are concerned about making sure that science informs policy? I'm no expert, but to me it means (a) that we need to invest in research on how to communicate science to different audiences and (b) that we need to ensure that scientific results are presented using "a diverse set of voices from different backgrounds".
What these political knowledge surveys and studies show is the tendency of Americans to make up for their lack of knowledge by relying on heuristics and mental short cuts such as values, identity, and trust; by turning to trusted media sources and political leaders; and by sorting out personal uncertainty through conversations with friends and co-workers, just like they rely on the same heuristics and sources in making sense of science-related debates.
Importantly, if the public has limited knowledge of even the most visible and prominent political issues in the news or basic attributes of major institutions such as the U.S Senate, can we realistically expect that the public will be well informed about issues and institutions receiving much less media attention such as climate change or funding for the NSF?
We need to remember Aristotle's advice in the Rhetoric. Persuasion depends not only on logos (logic and data), but also on ethos (the character and trustworthiness of the speaker) and on pathos (the empathy that a speaker has for her/his audience).1
Both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts would see their funds cut in 2011 under the Obama administration's budget. The annual appropriation for the humanities endowment would dip to $161.3 million from $167.5 million in 2010, with equivalent cuts in most of its programs, except for challenge grants. The arts endowment would see an equivalent drop. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration and seeks to preserve the country's documentary heritage, would see its budget cut to $10 million from $13 million. ("The Education Exception", InsideHigherEd, 2 February 2010)I realize that increases in funding in some areas, like science, require cuts elsewhere, but very little will be saved by these cuts. Surely there are other areas of the non-defense discretionary budget where savings this large could be found. I agree with Robert Berdahl, President of the American Association of Universities, who wrote the following in a statement praising President Obama's commitment to education and research:
We hope that Congress will be able to restore the proposed cut in funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities. The relatively small amount of money this saves, $6 million, contributes little to the effort to maintain an overall spending freeze, but it has a significant impact on the Endowment's ability to support humanities research and education
In 1978 when the deed was signed transferring Rae Selling Berry''s property to The Berry Botanic Garden, Dr. Howard S. Mason, the first President of the Board of Directors said, "We have inherited a legend. (source)A legend indeed. In 1983 the Berry Botanic Garden established the first seed bank for rare and endangered species of plants. The seed bank and the conservation program will live on, but last month the Friends of Berry Botanic Garden decided to put the garden up for sale. It is no longer financially viable.
But this month, the nonprofit corporation Friends of Berry Botanic Garden decided to put the garden up for sale and brokered a deal with Portland State University to save the seed bank and plant conservation program.I've visited Berry only once, but it saddens me to see it go. The people of Portland and the Pacific northwest are losing a treasure.
The decision to put the 6.5 acres in Dunthorpe on the market was complicated, the reason was not.
"We're not financially viable as a nonprofit anymore," Margaret Eickmann, interim director, said Thursday. ("Berry Botanic Garden reaches financial dead end", by Kym Pokorny, OregonLive.com, 15 January 2010)
Under current law, CBO [the Congressional Budget Office] projects that the budget deficit this year, will be about $1.3 trillion, or more than 9 percent of the country's total output. (source)
Last week President Obama announced a three-year cap on federal government spending for discretionary, non-defense programs (see, for example, this article from last week's New York Times). Nonetheless, in the budget proposal President Obama transmitted to Congress today, we find a substantial commitment to the future of science and technology in this country. Here are a few items that caught my eye in the list that reporters at Science magazine have compiled:
- A $1 billion increase, to $32.1 billion, for the National Institutes of Health. That 3%-plus boost is aimed at keeping NIH on pace with inflationary costs for doing biomedical research.
- A $550 million boost, to $7.4 billion, for the National Science Foundation. Almost all of that 8% increase would go to NSF's six research directorates, with a special emphasis on clean energy and sustainability. Its education and training programs would rise by 2%.
- A $226 million hike, to $5.1 billion, for the Office of Science within the Department of Energy (DOE). The department's 3-year-old effort to jump-start a low-carbon economy, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, would get $300 million as its first annual budget. A scaled-down education and training initiative, RE-ENERGYSE, would get $74 million, after Congress rejected a much larger program proposed last year.
WASHINGTON, DC - President Barack Obama today announced that the Federal Government will reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by 28 percent by 2020. Reducing and reporting GHG pollution, as called for in Executive Order 13514 on Federal Sustainability, will ensure that the Federal Government leads by example in building the clean energy economy. Actions taken under this Executive Order will spur clean energy investments that create new private-sector jobs, drive long-term savings, build local market capacity, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship in clean energy industries.Read the whole press release at whitehouse.gov.
U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern gave notice to the United Nations that the country will aim for a 17 percent emissions cut in carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming by 2020, from 2005 levels.
The move, which confirmed the goal set by the White House late last year, was conditional on other countries also submitting their pollution-cutting targets to the accord, Stern said.
The House has done it's job (Waxman-Markey). Now it's time for the Senate to do theirs (Kerry-Boxer). Kerry is trying to negotiate a compromise with help from Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman.
But Kerry's task is complex because he has concluded that winning emissions limits will require several concessions to industry and Republicans. The plan he is crafting with Graham and Lieberman will likely contain an expansion of offshore drilling and large new subsidies for building nuclear power plants. ("Kerry's climate strategy: Get mad", by Ben Geman, The Hill, 28 January 2010)