There is a decent piece in Wired.com today that shows “the best” scientific figures of 2012. Some of the figures to make Wired.com’s list a good. Some are pretty silly (not scientifically, but silly in that they made the list at all…they show very little information and the information is not that interesting (to me)). But here is one that is absurd in its non-scientificness.
Here is the Wired.com text:
Over the last century, the continental United States climate has changed rapidly and unevenly. Here researchers take a fine-grained look at shifts in water cycles and climate between 1916 and 2005, tracking the speed and direction of changes in temperatures (top left), the release of water into air by evaporation and plant respiration (top right) and water deficit (bottom left).
The latter is a measure of how much water ought to be released, given local weather and vegetation, and how much water is actually available. The central plains are drying fast.
(!!! Note that this critique could be entirely a critique of the Wired reporter’s ineptitude.)
So, these guys are saying that they’ve taken a data set and determined that the data set changes over time and then used the same data set to determine that those changes over time are not “normal”. WTF!?!?!?!?! This is nonsense!
What does it mean “how much water ought to be released”?
First of all, it’s bad science. Second of all, it highlights the bias that many have that climate and ecology at this time point – namely, yesterday (as in ~1900) – is “correct” and that variations are “wrong”. How arrogant and self-centered are these people?