Activity Trackers Aren’t A Weight Loss Miracle Cure

Fitbit Blaze activity tracker by Andri Koolme

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.

Brexit: Emotions Trumped Facts During UK’s Referendum

Anti-EU flag by EU Exposed

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.

How to hide most of China’s coal consumption

Tianjin Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle Power Plant Project

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.

Scientists Respond To Tol’s Misrepresentation Of Their Consensus Research

cook 97 percent consensus

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.

Science Deniers Again Try To Discredit John Cook And Skeptical Science

conspiracy_theoryScience deniers never cease to amaze me with the tactics they use to discredit research and people. So they cannot win the debate on the science as it’s not on their side. This causes al kinds of interesting mental processes and conspiratorial thinking to deal with this disconnect from reality. Research by Smith and Leiserowitz shows that conspiratorial thinking is the number one response from climate science deniers towards global warming.

This is also why you see the assumption among science deniers that people have at best “questionable motives” or at worst “nefarious intent.” Which largely explains the defamation you see on science denier blogs and websites. It doesn’t take much for science deniers to jump from assuming nefarious intent to assigning nefarious intent and screeching “fraud” and “fakery” (see ‘climategate‘ for the perfect example).

Monckton’s Fundamentally Flawed Simple Climate Model

Guest article written by Rose Andreatta.

moncktonBy the time a team of five climate experts finished responding to the serious errors in a paper led by climate contrarian Christopher Monckton, they had more than a quick critique on their hands. In fact, the team—made up of Mark Richardson, Zeke Hausfather, Dana Nuccitelli, Ken Rice and John Abraham—had so much upon which to comment, they wound up publishing their thorough debunking in the same journal where Monckton and his co-authors published their original paper.

How Do Scientists Know That?

Guest article written by Holly Vesco.

We’ve all heard the question, and perhaps even asked it ourselves, “Just how do scientists know that?” The question is innocent enough, but all too often it’s asked with a sense of distrust and even with a touch of condescension. Honestly, with or without the skepticism, it’s a question worth asking and answering.

It’s perfectly fine to ask how science knows what it knows and to have a desire to understand how the evidence supports the conclusions scientists come to. Those kind of questions are actually a large part of what peer-review does. The type of skepticism that I take issue with (the kind this article is addressing) is different, it doesn’t allow people to follow the facts, but to distort the them to fit their previously held beliefs. This way of thinking turns the question “how can they know that?” into a declaration of “they can’t know that!” That version of skepticism is not true skepticism, but instead it’s just a fancy way of saying, “I don’t like it, so it’s not true.”