7 April 2017
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 image very powerful.
When the ear and the eye compete, the eye always wins.
I try to remember this when making on-air weather graphics, and it explains why that hockey stick graph grabbed the public’s attention in such a powerful way. For Dr Mann, it’s led to 15 years of death threats, and in once case a failed attempt at prosecution, all from people who found that image terribly “inconvenient”. Anytime I post that image on a blog or on social media, I get angry comments; a testament to the power of that graph in the shape of a hockey stick.
Unfortunately for his attackers, Mann got the science right. Check out the piece in The Atlantic to learn more, or better yet, read Mann’s books to get the story in his own words. So far, he has not suffered Galileo’s fate for exposing an uncomfortable truth (house arrest for life by the inquisition).
But this is 2017, and the year is young yet.
In related news today, we have a new definition of the word IRONY.