Working with scientists for over a decade has taught me one thing: they are an interesting and varied bunch. Fiercely dedicated to their chosen career, love what they do, very enthusiastic when given half a chance to talk about their research, and very inquisitive. They perk up when somewhere a scientist says “huh, that’s funny.” After all, this often means there’s something new and exciting that they can dig into.
The past days I’ve been at the AGU Fall Meeting interviewing scientists and experts, going to presentations, visit poster sessions, checking out exhibitions, and meeting a lot of interesting folks. Basically I’m gathering information and content on a lot of climate science and science communication related subjects.
Via my Twitter account you can get the latest updates on what I’m up to. You can also follow the AGU hashtag. Next to using the contact form on Real Skeptic my Twitter account is the most reliable way to get in touch with me.
This is just a quick post for two announcements. The first one is that I’m in San Francisco at the moment and this Friday I’ll be meeting with Jason from Opinion-Ville. Anyone who is interested can join us. Please see below for further details.
The second announcement is that I’ll be attending the AGU Fall Meeting again. Reporting on sessions, posters that caught my eye, exhibitions, and anything else of interest. Basically I’ll be reporting on a lot of climate science and science communication related subjects. Again, further details below.
Social media is both a blessing and the bane of my life. It’s used to great effect to counter (potentially dangerous) misinformation and share fun little tidbits about science. But at the same time it has made it easy to reach millions with wacky conspiracy theories. Some use it very effectively to spread misinformation.
For me social media is a great way to connect with friends and other science communicators. Though that doesn’t shield me from the misinformed or wacky side of the internet (there are a couple of folks who activity seek me out). It doesn’t surprise me that this happens. What does surprise me is when my friends share or like conspiracy theories:
Wearables like activity trackers do get a bit of attention today. They are still a bit gimmicky as the market is still figuring out how people use them and want to use them. But there is a steady uptake in their usage, consumers bought a respectable 78 millions devices last year. I’m even among the folks who quite happily use a fitness tracker to track exercises and keep an eye on their health.
The detail though is that these type of devices haven’t been around for long. Fitbit, probably one of the more known brands, introduced their first activity tracker in 2009. That’s not a lot of time to gather data on how they’re used and how effective they are. Which is a bit of a problem when you’re making health claims about these devices.
Politics isn’t what I usually write about. To me politics and preferred policy options are consequences of how you see the world and the road you want to take. It’s something personal but can be a fun topic to talk about with all the different perspectives.
To me it’s a valid option to say you don’t want to be part of the EU. It also is a valid position to say that you never want to leave the EU. Of course many folks aren’t that black and white and most pro-EU folks like me have some bones to pick with the EU and its regulations (don’t get me started on the EU Cookie Law).
So then why do I care about what happened in the UK? Well, because I’m utterly appalled by the dialogue before and after the referendum. It was more about emotions and perceptions and not a good faith dialogue about what it means to be part of the EU and if the UK should leave.
It’s not often that I’ll go the “I told you so route”, but this time it seems appropriate towards Richard Tol. Though maybe also a thank you might be in order with how decisive scientists rebutted Tol’s nonsensus. But before I go into that, a bit of context is needed.
Last week a co-worker pointed me towards the Twitter account of Dutch research journalist Marcel Crok. His concern was mostly with some recent factually incorrect tweets on this account. But as I started to browse through his time-line another tweet grabbed my attention. The tweet has since been running through my mind. Not because it is a particularly good tweet, or that it makes a good point. It’s not even a funny tweet either. In fact, I find this tweet so fascinating because there is a lot wrong with it.
The release of documents that showed Willie Soon receiving funding from vested interests has created quite a lot of chatter on the internet and in the media. The initial article in the New York Times Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher that broke this story is in my opinion quite good.
To quote John Reisman, “Science is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship. It is evidence that does the dictating.” It’s this evidence based ‘dictatorship’ that is the basis for a scientific consensus. Based on this ‘dictatorship’ of evidence we know that global warming is real, we’re causing it, and that it’s a problem if we don’t act. This presents a real problem for those denying that there is a problem or want to minimize the consequences.