Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bad Science

Reading the news this morning, I stumbled upon an article at Fox talking about a recent sea level study padding it's data. They claim it is to compensate for changing topography resulting in an increased volume for the oceans to fill. If that is reflected in their publication, all well and good (it seems to be reflected in their site). It means they aren't studying sea level, but I don't mind that, unless people start using that artificial increase to indicate a danger to humanity. What bothered me was a line by Steve Merem, director of the University of Colorado Sea Level Research Group that is publishing these figures.

"For the layperson, this correction is a non-issue and certainly not newsworthy… [The] effect is tiny -- only 1 inch over 100 years, whereas we expect sea level to rise 2-4 feet."

The first thing that comes to mind with this statement is an incongruity. Here they are attempting to compensate in fractional millimeters, which they can say with certainty will result in an increase of about one inch over a century, yet they can't give a more specific prediction than 2-4 feet? That seems like a figure derived from very un-scientific methods.

That then leads me to my second complaint. He uses the word 'expect.' He is supposed to be a scientist, and from what I've been able to find on their website, the group is involved solely in collecting data, not making projections. Where then is he getting his expectations? It does not seem to be from the center's own work. He has preconceived notions of what is going to happen. I find that rather antithetical to good scientific thinking. Sure, everyone has things they are expecting to happen in an experiment, but that should not cloud your judgement and should not be used in support of your data.

A slap on the wrist to Steve Merem. Be a scientist please, not a shill.

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