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21 July 2017

The Cognitive Bias Survival Guide

As a reporter in Tampa was doing a story on an Alligator in the road yesterday, someone drove past and screamed “Fake News!”  I suspect the gator was real, and the story was factual, but this is happening rather frequently. You might ask how people can be so deceived that they will accept news only from those who tell them what they want to hear. Unfortunately, this is the America we …

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19 July 2017

CV’s, resumes, & scicomm?

By Shane M Hanlon I had a discussion the other day with a friend who is in the process of updating her resume as she’s likely to be promoted at her current job. She was lamenting about how time intensive it was and how she couldn’t quite remember everything that she’s accomplished since her last update while also worrying about what to fit into it due to space constraints. I …

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6 July 2017

GOES-16 View of the SAL around Tropical Depression 4.

The image above is from GOES-16 (Ctsy. CIRA) and you can easily see the dry dusty Saharan air to the North and east of Tropical Depression 4. This layer of dusty air is called the SAL for Saharan Air Layer, and it often inhibits tropical cyclones. It’s already impacting TD 4. The new GOES-16 continues to wow we meteorologists. Truly, a new era is underway. Update 12 AM EDT 7 July) …

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3 July 2017

Blogging about diseases – for science! (And fun.)

By Shane M Hanlon I’m a disease ecologist by training. As a graduate student I investigated how agricultural runoff, mainly in the form of pesticides, alters the effects of fungal disease in amphibians. I still collaborate on primarily disease-related projects with my peers. And, as an added bonus, I get to spend three weeks each summer teaching a disease ecology course at Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology (- the place where …

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26 June 2017

A scicommer leaves Washington (temporarily)

By Shane M Hanlon I’m the Senior Specialist in AGU’s Sharing Science program. I giggle to myself on occasion when I hear it said aloud, not because of anything specific with the title or my duties therein, but because I am most comfortable with another title – scientist. I have a PhD in biology with a focus in disease ecology and ecotoxicology. I came into science communication and policy through …

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25 June 2017

Tom Nichols is Spot On

The Death of Expertise “Tom Nichols, a professor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College, says America has become a country “obsessed with the worship of its own ignorance.” Americans have always been skeptical of intellectuals and experts. Today, says Nichols, that attitude has mutated into outright hostility. In general, Americans have never been so willing to reject the knowledge of those who actually know something. This …

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19 June 2017

Wait, what’s #scijack & what’s it have to do with #scicomm?

By Shane M Hanlon Over the past month, I have noticed a new type of #scicomm emerging. It’s not through a new technology, rather, it’s exploiting an existing one. Spurred by the Tweets of President Donald Trump, scientists and science-enthusiasts alike have begun to insert science facts, or #scijack, into tweet threads responding to President Trump, as well as other prominent political figures. The idea is this – many, many …

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Fire & Rain, and Heat as Well.

Intense heat, with low humidity has led to a horrible catastrophe in Portugal. The hot and dry weather in Europe led to a firestorm in Portugal that killed at least 60 people. A strong upper level high pressure system will stay over the area tomorrow and little or no rain is in sight. This high pressure is bringing warm weather all the way into the UK with highs tomorrow in …

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13 June 2017

An Anthropogenic Heat Advisory

So, why such a small Heat Advisory? Look at the temps. at 11 PM EDT Monday night: Note the temps. in Central Philadelphia and Wilmington are around 6-10 degrees F. warmer than the surrounding areas. Yes it’s the urban heat island effect, and Philly has a big one.The extra heat pushed Philly beyond the criteria for a Heat Advisory, while areas away from the city were not hot enough. You may …

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6 June 2017

The Clown Just Popped Out of the Box!

Since the U.S. pulled out of the Paris accord last week, old climate myths have been crawling out of their coffins. This includes some real winners from the past like “They said in the 70’s we were going to freeze to death!”, but I have yet to hear the “but grapes grew in Greenland!” claim. Just in case, John Cook at Skeptical Science has a long list of these along …

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28 May 2017

How To Get Your Science Noticed? Get The Government to Try and Cover It Up!

Raul Grijalva, the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sent a hot letter this week to the Secretary of the Interior. It was about the removal of the first line of a USGS press release last week. The press release was about a newly published paper showing a dramatic increase in coastal flooding as sea level rises, and I wrote about it last week here. Even Richard Nixon …

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18 May 2017

Every Student Needs To Understand This

You really should read Tom Friedman’s book Thank You For Being Late.  He skillfully put into words something I’ve been thinking about for a long while now about education and why a high school diploma is no longer enough. Every student needs to understand this, and students and parents, you ignore it at your peril. The Culture Issue Our educational system could certainly use improvement since, in most of the …

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9 May 2017

This is Long, but it Explains a Lot.

A friend of mine told me about this essay, and while Foreign Affairs magazine is not on my usual reading list, I see why it has such a high reputation. Take the time to read this.

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6 May 2017

Using Basic Algebra To Develop An Extreme Temperature Index

This is a cross-post from my friend and fellow meteorologist Guy Walton. Guy is working on an extreme temperature index that will take into account not just the magnitude of the record but weight this by the length of the record. Breaking a record at a site with 50 years of data is not as important as doing the same in a place with 135 years of data. The next …

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29 April 2017

Smart People Listen to Those Who Dwell in Facts, Even When They Are Uncomfortable!

I was invited to a seminar at NASA Goddard last week which combined some top climate experts with meteorologists who work in media. We shared ideas on how to better communicate science, but the highlight was an update from some top NASA and NOAA climate experts. Dr Ben Santer went over the satellite temperature record, (and in the process destroyed some of the lingering myths that keep being repeated), and …

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23 April 2017

Thousands Stand Up for Mankind’s Greatest Invention- Science

Thousands of scientists from around the world did something that seemed unimaginable a few years ago. They stood up and made their voices heard in defense of science. Thousands of scientists braved a steady light rain and cool temperatures to gather on the Mall in Washington today and then marched toward the Capitol. The rain was not a surprise because the forecast for the day was nearly spot-on (thanks to …

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19 April 2017

Science: “An Exercise in Finding What’s True”

Neil de Grasse Tyson’s video below is a must watch. His quote that “Science in an entire exercise in finding what is true”, is similar to another quote that I’ve often repeated from Richard Feynman: “Science is what we do to keep from lying to ourselves.” Watch the video and then share it.

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15 April 2017

How the Disappearing Arctic Ice is Already Changing Your Weather

It’s called Arctic Amplification and it’s easy to understand. As the snow and ice disappear in the high latitudes, what was once bright and reflective, is now dark and warmer. Warmer because the solar energy it used to reflect is being absorbed, and this warming is not just a prediction, it’s been measured. The high latitudes are warming dramatically more than the tropical oceans. But, how is this affecting our daily weather? …

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10 April 2017

Listening: The other half of science communication

Talk to strangers. Find common ground. Share the science. But start by listening.

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7 April 2017

Dr Michael Mann on Science Friday

Science Friday had an excellent interview with Penn State Climatologist Michael Mann today, and you can hear it all here. Dr Mann produced the “hockey stick”, which is destined to become one of the most famous images in the history of science, and it’s caused him plenty of grief. If he’d been wrong, it would not have been so bad! Unfortunately for him, he was right, and that made the …

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