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5 April 2015

We Must Defend Science if We Want a Prosperous Future

Originally published on The Conversation. It definitely applies as much (and likely more) to America as Australia. Barry Jones, University of Melbourne Today’s Australians are, by far, the best educated cohort in our history –- on paper, anyway -– but this is not reflected in the quality of our political discourse. We appear to be lacking in courage, judgement, capacity to analyse and even simple curiosity, except about immediate personal …

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23 March 2015

Neil deGrasse Tyson Rocks 60 Minutes

In case you missed it, Neil deGrasse Tyson was profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday, his attention grabbing interview explaining in itself why he is America’s best science communicator. He mentions at the start something I wrote about back in 2009, the most famous photo ever taken, and the stunning impact it has had on how we see ourselves since. The interview on 60 Minutes is below, in case you missed …

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18 March 2015

NOAA: Earth Had Warmest Winter On Record

Earth just had it’s warmest winter on record, and this past February was the second warmest on record. This from NOAA/NCDC During February, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.48°F (0.82°C) above the 20th century average. This was the second highest for February in the 1880–2015 record. The highest temperature occurred in 1998, at 1.55°F (0.86°C) above average. During February, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 3.02°F …

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13 March 2015

Three Things You Really Should Read before The Weekend

Trying to define pornography, a frustrated U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once famously declared “I know it when I see it”, and perhaps you can say the same thing about critical thinking. Greg Laden (at Science Blogs) wrote a great post today about Bjorn Lomborg, a “famous” climate denier, and a statement he made about sea level rise. Laden then goes on to show just how ridiculous the argument …

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28 February 2015

American Meteorological Society Criticises Congressional Investigation of Climate Researchers

More on this from Jason Samenow at the Washington Post.  This seems to be related to the disclosure last week, that Dr. Willie Soon did not disclose that he received funding from fossil fuel corporations. This appears on the surface to be  a serious ethical violation, and I would not be surprised to see action taken by the journals in which these papers were published. It’s worth noting that EVERY …

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27 February 2015

Oklahoma Senator Illustrates Dunning-Kruger Effect

I wrote about the Dunning Kruger effect last week and a U.S.Senator took the floor of the Senate today to illustrate why you do not want to be a victim of this disease. In case you’re wondering about how the winter of 2015 is shaping up in the U.S. and around the world. Read this post from last week as well.Then there is also this research being published in the …

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21 February 2015

Understanding How VERY Difficult Forecasting Snowfall Is

In the warm season, if we forecasters are off by two degrees, and get the rainfall off by a tenth of an inch, not one person will notice. In a snow event, this error is often the difference between nothing, and an icy mess on area roads. This happened today in Northern Alabama, where the models missed a very light amount of precip. but that one tenth of an inch …

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15 February 2015

A Reliable Vaccine to Treat Dunning-Kruger Syndrome

Well, it actually an effect rather than a syndrome, but it can seem like one to others. The vaccine for it is science literacy, but make no mistake, it doesn’t work for everyone. It’s kind of like the flu shot, it protects many and lessens the severity for most others, but some people get the full-blown illness anyhow. If you’re wondering what the Dunning-Kruger effect is, just look at the …

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11 February 2015

2011 DC Area Quake May Have Been Felt By More People Than Any U.S. Quake In History.

The 2011 Washington DC earthquake may have been felt by more people than any other U.S. quake in history. The USGS issued a press release today about the quake, and the newly discovered fault that it likely occurred on. Quakes in the eastern portions of North America tend to be felt across a larger area, probably because the rocks here are old and cold compared to those in the West …

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Coldest Air of The Winter Headed For the NE U.S. and Midwest

A true outbreak of Polar air is headed for the northeastern quarter of the U.S. beginning Thursday. It will actually come in at least two and maybe 3 waves. The first wave will bring snow showers and plunging temps on Thursday to the East Coast from Virginia to Maine, and another surge will arrive Saturday evening with even colder air. A true Polar air mass often brings a dusting of …

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6 February 2015

The Peak Of Anti-Science?

Just when you think that basic denial of science could not get any more ridiculous, we have a week when a U.S. Senator questions hand washing laws in restaurants, and life saving vaccinations becomes a campaign issue among presidential candidates. We can only hope that this era of anti-science is at its peak and will get better soon. I’ve been interested in the psychology of this type of behavior for …

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28 January 2015

Predicting the Weather is Tricky Work

This is a guest post by long-time Raleigh North Carolina Meteorologist (and friend) Greg Fishel of WRAL-TV During Tuesday’s 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. news, I talked about ensembles, how they outperformed the deterministic models for New York City last night and that they appear to be performing better for the local area with regard to a storm arriving on Sunday. First, what are ensembles and why are they so …

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27 January 2015

Making Snowfall Forecasts More Accurate

We are at the cusp of some amazing technology that will hopefully make forecasting snowstorms, like the one predicted yesterday, much more accurate. I was on a local program produced by the TV station I work for (WBOC-TV) last week, and I showed a couple of smart phone apps that may eventually make a real difference in forecasting. Making better forecasts requires higher resolution models and that means more data …

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25 January 2015

East Coast Blizzard Brewing?

  There are increasing signs this early Sunday morning that the winter of 2015 is about to go into high gear. A major nor’easter is likely to develop Monday and move NE to off the New England coast by Tuesday evening. A word of warning here- there is still a lot of uncertainty in the strength and track of this low and that will play a big role in how …

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13 January 2015

Hanging With Smart People at AGU

The AGU meeting every December in San Francisco is truly an amazing experience, and while I only was able to be there for two days, it was well worth flying across the entire continent and back in 48 hours. Here are some sights and sounds from the AGU that I and others made. Up first is meeting Geoph Haines-Stiles one of the senior producers of the original COSMOS with Carl …

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12 January 2015

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Vaccine Against Pseudoscience

What does alternative math have in common with alternative physics, and alternative medicine? None of them work! This is a sample of an excellent edition of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Star Talk podcast about pseudoscience. It’s this kind of plain reasoning that make Neil Tyson the hero of college educated millennials, and science lovers everywhere. In the episode, the wiki list of cognitive biases is mentioned, and you can read it here. …

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23 December 2014

A Conversation With An Amazing Science Writer at The AGU in San Francisco

Writing about science is hard. Doing it very well is VERY hard. I had a nice long chat with my friend Bob Henson at the AGU meeting in San Francisco last Thursday. Bob is an amazing science writer who is leaving NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) after 25 years, and will be blogging for Weather Underground starting in a few weeks. He will be sorely missed at NCAR, but …

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20 December 2014

..and That’s What Science is all About Charlie Brown

I am just back from a whirlwind trip to the AGU Meeting in San Francisco. 25,000 Earth scientists in one place, and it’s among the largest science meetings on the planet. I shot some videos that I will post over the weekend, but in the meantime here is a talk I made in October 2013 (in Washington) as part of the AGU Science Speaker series.

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9 December 2014

Beware the Juice of Freshly Picked California Cherries

There has been some talk about a report on the California drought that was released this week, and it’s worth talking about the reaction to it. One thing that seems to have gotten particular attention is the following statement: “The current drought is not part of a long-term change in California precipitation, which exhibits no appreciable trend since 1895. Key oceanic features that caused precipitation inhibiting atmospheric ridging off the …

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6 December 2014

What You Missed In Science This Week

Unfalsifiable Belief- The Dark Side of Reason This piece on a recently published paper (in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2014. DOI: 10.1037/pspp0000018) is a must read. Click the image to read it. Could this explain the faulty reasoning of those who refuse to accept the truth that greenhouse gases are warming the atmosphere, and those white lines behind jet aircraft are not government mind control chemicals? What do …

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