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1/13/09 / Move

1:22 PM Interesting gimmick for promoting tourism in Autralia. Those crazy Australians!

12:44 PM I realized this morning, regarding the article I blogged about yesterday, that I should make a disclaimer about scientific articles. Myself and others find these statistics and informational tidbits interesting and amusing, like how much energy a Google search consumes or how much greenhouse gas a cow produces. But is there really a way to verify the claims of these studies, and more specifically, the numbers they throw out?

By the time these studies get around to peer-review, they’ve already propagated through the people and their statistics are being given out, in sequentially decreasing accuracy, in conversations throughout America and the educated world. So even if some numbers end up getting corrected after publication, how widely will that emendment propagate? In a sense the damage has already been done, because false numbers have already been sent out all over and inaccurate conclusions have been drawn from them.

So the disclaimer I think should be to acknowledge that sometimes we put too much faith not in science or scientists, but in the methods of science, which are anything but accessible to the layperson or even transparent to other scientists. That’s a breach that cannot be overcome from the layperson’s end; the only solution I see is for scientists to be scrupulous in their methods and practices, so that the ripple effects their discoveries cause are not based on false facts. And indeed, I feel that the issue of scientific responsibility has been fairly active in the media in the last few years, sparked by some insiders’ activities that were more driven by personal gain than scientific integrity.

But, like all things, science is a business, and in business profit matters, and as long as that is the case, some falsehood is virtually guaranteed to be inherent. That is a bigger problem, and one I don’t have a solution to. Not today.

12:42 PM I never even considered that people could be moving out of California, made out to be the heaven that it is. But apparently not all is rosey there, says this article.

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