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Hype Vs. Fact In Science News

The Wall Street Journal (itself a politicized source) and the blogosphere have been the primary sources of info on climategate to US citizens, with the recent exception of Jon Stewart's coverage on the Daily Show: . By contrast, the citizens of Northern Europe are scouring the web for an understanding of climategate, as revealed by Google Trends, as compared to the US's fascination w/starlet Megan Fox:

Google searches in last 30 days:
'Al Gore' vs 'climategate' (Particularly high in Sweden and Netherlands)

'Global Warming' vs 'ClimateGate'

and 'Global Warming' vs 'Megan Fox'

It will be interesting to see if and when the US MSM finally catches up to the issues being illuminated by climategate.

In the meantime, as Jon Stewart points out, the reputation of scientists, and science as a process, will suffer, and policy-makers will remain unassisted by valid data to drive their efforts. In a policy-making process that will affect the entire planet at the cost of billions (trillions?) of dollars, impacting developing countries in particular, this situation is truly pathetic.

(And I will continue to do promotional films to generate income, because I've been unable to find adequate funding to support myself doing science filmmaking, since graduation.)

December 2, 2009 at 1:37 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Hype Vs. Fact In Science News

I am another graduate of the MFA program mentioned mentioned by workinsync in another comment (with a background in math, computer science, and underwater nature). Thanks to KPBS's guests, and workinsync, for putting forward the basic processes, issues, and requirements of science reporting.

An interesting case in point regarding science media hype and coverage issues--known as "climategate" within the blogosphere's AGW-- is currently unfolding: This is the story of emails between U Penn's Michael Mann, and a key British researcher who coordinated the manipulation and deletion of data to support the AGW argument, and further, to suppress dissenting views from being published.

There is a long-term history that explains the lack of coverage of climategate within mainstream media:

Years ago, statistician Steve McIntyre (U. of Guelph in Canada) showed that errors were being introduced during data pre-processing for Michael Mann's (U. Penn) model, which produced the infamous "hockey stick" temperature graph. (This graph was held as authoritative by AGW proponents at the IPCC, largely driving the push for a global climate treaty.) McIntyre's analysis shows that Mann's model produces the hockey-stick shaped graph from totally randomized input data--which you could visualize by thinking of the "snow" static pattern you could see on an older TV screen.

Though McIntyre's website,, long ago chronicled his analysis of this error, its corroboration by the AAAS, and McIntyre's correspondence with Mann on the subject; the mainstream media (MSM) never picked up on this controversy, particularly in America. Given our low level of science and mathematics understanding, one can understand the MSM's reticence to approach reporting on this statistical problem.

There has also been little coverage, especially within the US MSM, of solar physicist Svensmark's alternative theory of cosmic rays' and solar wind's combined effects on low-level clouds, aerosol formation, etc., as the driver of cyclical temperature variations. (A key element of this theory, about how cosmic rays and solar winds drive aerosol formations, has recently been published.)

The lack of adequate skepticism and "grey-scale" coverage by the US MSM regarding AGW, and their lack of attention to competing perspectives, leaves them now with almost no foundation for coverage of "climategate." (A few more comments in my next post....)

December 2, 2009 at 1:36 p.m. ( | suggest removal )