Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Science, Statistics and "Tricks"

Before I begin let me say this. The capital of Denmark, Copenhagen, is pronounced "CopenHAYgen" not "CopenHAHgen." Neither is the Danish pronunciation of course. The Danish name for the city is Koebenhavn which sounds nothing like either alternative discussed previously. The "CopenHAHgen" pronunciation is actually and approximation of the GERMAN name for the city. But the brainless twits on CNN etc often insist on using the German pronunciation because they think it makes them sound smarter. But if you can't pronounce the Danish name, you should just use the English pronunciation.

Now, with the meeting in Copenhagen, there has been a bit of a media spasm about supposed fraud among scientists regarding their statistical analyses of climate change. This is based on a stolen email where a scientist refers to a "trick" he used to merge two data sets. I work with data often enough to have a good idea of what he was talking about and it wasn't fraud. What he was talking about was an open and transparent way to make two data sets collected by different research groups compatible. It happens all the time and as long as the researcher doing it is open about doing it and how they did it, there is no problem with it at all. But the climate change skeptics out there are using this story as an excuse to claim that climate change is just a massive conspiracy by elitist "scientists" who are just trying to make life difficult for honest Christians who haven't had their moral senses debilitated by an excess of indoctrination in "school."

Of course, this entry will have no influence on the people who need influencing. They will either never read it or dismiss it as ideological ranting. But sometimes it feels good to vent.


The Law Talking Guy said...

During the Cold War, everyone talked about Moscow, with the "cow" being the animal. Then in the 1980s it became fashionable to call it Mos-ko, with the "cow" rhyming with "know" or "dough," as if this were edujacted. The former pronunciation is German (Moskau); the latter probably reflects the French (Moscou). Neither is correct by a mile. The Russian is Mosk-VA (strong accent on the VA, the "o" in the first syllable more like a schwa). Of course, in English, it would be pronounced MOSK-va, which is worse.

FYI, the cyrillic for Moscow is fun, because it uses characters available on a Roman keyboard: "MOCKBA"

The whole issue of pronuncing foreign names is messy, of course. The normal English custom is to pronounce the city's name, however it gets spelled, as if it were an English word. The spelling is usually something historical, frequently adopted from another language, which makes it all worse. So "Mexico" is pronounced with a "ks" instead of a "h" or "kh" for the X. We pronounce "Warsaw" with "w" and "s" instead of "v" and "sh".

The best example of this is the way the British pronounced the Belgian town of Ypres during WWI. They called it "wipers."

Dr. Strangelove said...

This handful of e-mails merely demonstrate that scientists are human. As RbR indicates, this entire flap is merely about the presentation of a data set. The evidence is incredibly strong.

One big point that so many Republicans seem to miss is that climate scientists honestly wish they were wrong about the whole climate change thing. Nobody wants it. Nobody likes it. It is depressing and frightening. It's like watching a massive train wreck happening in slow motion and being helpless to stop it. They plead for folks to look up and see what is happening, but conservatives close their eyes because it costs money to avoid it and they don't want to pay for anything. So selfish and greedy.

There is plenty of room to debate the merits of ways to address the problem, but at this point, denying the overwhelming evidence of climate change is not just irresponsible but criminally negligent. Twenty years from now, it may even be seen as a form of treason.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Is there any way to hold legislators personally responsible for the climate change damage they permit through their obstructionism?

Raised By Republicans said...

The only way to punish a politician is not to vote for her or him. The problem is a) politics is multi-dimensional and the environment is not the top issue for most voters and b) politics is geographically localized in this country so being a climate change denier actually gets you votes in some isolated locales.

Ultimately, the best political strategy for the environment today is to work with the candidate most capable of defeating the Republican party's candidate.

The Law Talking Guy said...

"Is there any way to hold legislators personally responsible for the climate change damage they permit through their obstructionism?"

Sadly, no. Immunity.