Headlines in a Math Literate World

Math and statistics are commonly misinterpreted and — sorry, journalist friends — often in headlines. It’s a small space to convey a message and the sensationalist headlines that result may increase readership or, these days, “clicks”. But sometimes they’re just not right.

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The Coffee Crusade

This week I’m at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. The AGU Fall meeting happens every year at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, probably because it’s one of the only conference centers in the country with the capacity to house a conference so big. More than 25,000 people attend every year, primarily geoscientists, but also journalists, educators, and folks in related field of private industry.

Below is a small subset of the AGU population in part of the poster hall. The conference consists of a few football fields of posters, fresh daily, plus roughly 100 rooms where 10 to 60 minute talks are occurring basically nonstop between 8am and 6pm Monday through Friday. Posters and talks are an attraction at AGU, but networking with colleagues and collaborators is another great reason to go and often fills the in-between meals and breaks. It’s a busy week for sure.

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The PhD process begins for real

I’ve been taking baby steps toward my PhD for a long time now, but I think I can officially say that I’m heading down the rabbit hole now. A few weeks ago I put together a committee for my qualifying exam and submitted the necessary paperwork. Since then, I’ve begun the process of drafting my PhD proposal, which I will present to my committee during my Qualifying Exam in the spring. This comic has been leaping to mind as I go along.

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“95% uncertainty”

Last week, the UN Convention on Climate Change was held in Warsaw, Poland. The purpose of the conference was for UN countries to come together to decide on a unified response to climate change.

The Convention was a bit rocky throughout the week. Many pointed to the recent typhoon in the Philippines as a call to action, even though single weather events can’t be linked directly to climate change. Australia’s government voted to repeal the country’s carbon tax and Japan declared it won’t be cutting emissions as much as expected due to its post-Fukushima energy reality. On hearing that news, about 800 conference-goers from frustrated NGOs walked out. 
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I don’t believe in climate change

Frankly, if you deny climate change, you’re behind the times. Like waaaaaaay behind the times. Even climate change “deniers” don’t deny that the climate is changing anymore. Seriously. Do you live under a rock?

If you do, you have some rather esteemed company in U.S. Congress.

Let me take you back a few years to the day climate change denial died. I peg it at sometime around December 2012. The results of a scientific study called the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project had passed peer review and were entered into scientific literature. The goal of the project was to finally put the arguments to rest and determine whether climate change was really happening or not.
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