27 July 2015

What’s Funny About That? Quite a Bit Actually!

Posted by Dan Satterfield

 Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 12.18.32 AMWhat happens when you write a blog that is so full of misinformation, and incorrect assumptions, that someone starts a separate a blog to correct the mistakes?

Well, for one thing you get some good laughs, and at times a real feeling of Schadenfreude! 

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 8.18.49 PMI’m talking about the blog What’s up With That (WUWT) and Hot Whopper which corrects the bad science posted there on a daily basis. If you don’t have Sou’s Hot Whopper in your reader, you really should. Now, I rarely say much about WUWT, because it’s mainly an echo chamber for the conspiracy minded to agree with each other, without someone pointing out bothersome things like facts.  Actually, the last time I mentioned it was by accident when I wrote If The Scientific Truth Is Inconvenient,Publish your Own Truth!  about the “Open Atmospheric Society“. It turns out that it’s connected to WUWT (I suspected so) and it’s blog master Anthony Watts. Apparently he is starting his own journal to publish the truth that all the world’s scientists are all keeping hidden. 

Few meteorologists I know (including me) get questions about something posted on WUWT, and most have never even heard of it, but it’s errors need to be pointed out, because many people are easily fooled by something dressed to look like science. Hot Whopper does just that, while being a daily lesson on why the first step to scientific literacy, is mastering the skill of critical thinking. It also makes for good entertainment. No, there’s no hope that pointing out the errors will have any effect on those inside the WUWT bubble, (strong indeed is the confirmation bias with them Luke Skywalker!) but Hot Whopper does an admirable (and necessary) job of protecting others from falling through the glass while looking in.

The silliness at WUWT has been going on for a while now, and my favorite escapade was back in 2009 when Watts accused NOAA of using bad data. Sou is at her best when she shows how ridiculous the frequent claims of cooked data on WUWT are. John Cook (at Skeptical Science) has a nice piece in CNN about the 5 techniques of science denial and WUWT is a perfect laboratory to see them all in action! Cook even co-authored a paper about conspiracy ideation using comments from WUWT! The folks at WUWT were not very happy about that and their comments made for another study on the psychology of living inside the bubble!

We are definitely living in the age of the conspiracy theory, but there are signs that the glass bubble is beginning to crack, and it will eventually break, because fact and reason win out in the end. Sometimes it just takes a while.

In the meantime, sit back sheeple, put on the tinfoil hat, and grab the popcorn!