Category Archives: Science and research

The recriminations of Harvey

It’s already started, but in the weeks and months to come, we can expect to see many more recriminations about who’s to blame for the disastrous flooding of America’s fourth-largest city. Undoubtedly, there will be plenty of blame to go around. News reports going back years already indicate that Houston city planners and state officials …

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I’ve seen things…

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.” – Roy, “Blade Runner” Of all the qualities I find hard to understand …

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Be alert to hedging language designed to ‘make things fuzzier’

In the wake of this past weekend’s events in Charlottesville, I thought it might be helpful to consider science’s understanding of hedging language, and how word choices can color our understanding of news coverage and officials’ responses. Hedging language uses cautious wording to imply lower certainty in a statement. Cognitive linguist/philosopher George Lakoff wrote famously …

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What, now, for despised experts?

How do scientists, fact-checkers and others with deep expertise deal with this, the election of a profoundly incurious president with little respect for the truth and aggressive hostility to views that differ from his? What, now, do the real experts do to try and preserve society’s grasp on reality? Finding answers that work is critical …

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‘Recursive Fury’ sets off new furies and shocking retraction

As I’ve noted in my book, “Prove It! Fact-Finding Secrets of a Fanatical Online Researcher,” climate change is a “controversial” subject not so much because of the science that supports it — which is solid — but because of its implications for society and the responses that will most likely be necessary. Scientists who research …

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Following the money trail of climate denial

Where is funding from climate change denial efforts coming from? Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle has found that “dark money” — passed through conservative foundations whose contributors can’t be identified — has come to dominate the climate “countermovement.” Brulle’s study, published in the journal Climatic Change, found that most funding for climate denial efforts …

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The altered state of Texas

In Texas, reality is apparently “inconsistent with current agency policy.” It would be hysterically funny if it weren’t so darned sad, pathetic and dangerous: upon being questioned about the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s near-complete elimination of any scientific references to climate change and rising sea levels in a 200-page report on the state of …

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