Assorted Links

  • Dangers of Splenda. Never use it in baked goods.
  • Overdiagnosis of attention deficit disorder. “So many medical professionals benefit from overprescribing that it is difficult to find a neutral source of information. . . . The F.D.A. has cited every major A.D.H.D. drug, including the stimulants Adderall, Concerta, Focalin and Vyvanse, for false and misleading advertising since 2000, some of them multiple times.”
  • David Suzuki, prominent environmentalist, former genetics professor, founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, once voted the greatest living Canadian, is asked a question about climate change that turns out to be surprisingly hard.
  • Confucius Peace Prize. Awarded to Putin because Russia makes China look good?
  • Top 10 retractions of 2013. There is a website for retractions (Retraction Watch) but no website for discoveries that could have been made but weren’t, except maybe this blog. I’m not joking. I am far more alarmed by lack of progress than retractions.

Thanks to Dave Lull.

13 Replies to “Assorted Links”

  1. Seth, I am unfamiliar with David Suzuki or with the details of climate science. So I watched the clip naively. I thought he didn’t have any trouble answering the question: there is warming. He referenced the IPCC report. One of the first figures in the 2007 report is this one: This shows a warming trend. How else should he have answered?

  2. Top Ten Retractions: I found it hard to understand exactly what was retracted.

    An Indian guy faked data for his phD. Indian people cheat a lot.

  3. Scary facts about Splenda but can’t say I’m all that surprised. And interesting the effects on gut flora is so bad. Have avoided all of these artificial sweeteners as much as possible, kind of assuming we weren’t getting the whole story from manufacturers. But it’s scary how many people consume them believing they are safe.

  4. Joe: the graph at the link you supply that purports to show no warming comes from the not-very-credible-seeming Lord Monckton Foundation with no attribution or explanation.

  5. Suzuki’s answer was woefully ignorant. If he really doesn’t know the names of the main sources of the temperature records he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.

    It was also disingenuous; it of course does not refute the proposition that a warming trend has been replaced by a flat trend to say that the last few years include the ten warmest, since that’s what you would expect from a flat trend, or even from the start of a cyclical decline.
    It’s hard to believe that anyone with a background in science could make that mistake honestly.

  6. Here is Jo Nova’s take on Suzuki (with 568 comments!):

    David Suzuki’s performance on Q&A last night was extraordinary. I was knock-me-over amazed that he has not heard of UAH, GISS, HADcrut and RSS, and knew nothing of the pause in global surface temperatures that even the UK Met Office and IPCC lead author climate scientists like Hans von Storch are discussing.

    How afraid is Suzuki about man-made global warming? So afraid, it doesn’t occur to him to check the data, incredibly he doesn’t even know what the data is. Tony Jones had to rephrase the questions to explain them to Suzuki, who doesn’t even understand them.

    How much is his reputation as a scientist worth when he doesn’t even bother to check the evidence for a cause he stakes his reputation on?

    Three times in Q&A he admitted he didn’t know — he didn’t know there was a pause in warming for the last 15 years, he didn’t know how global temperatures are measured, and he didn’t know that cyclones were not increasing over the Great Barrier Reef. He wants politicians jailed for “denying the science”. “You bet!” he exclaims, but then admits he hasn’t thought that through either.

  7. Here’s another interesting one, Seth

    What do you make of his excuse “When downloading material from the internet as part of my research, and coming back to it after a gap of maybe weeks or sometimes months, I simply did not recall that I had not written these passages myself.”? It strikes me that his own writing must lack character if he can confuse it with bits and bobs cribbed from the literature.

    I used to think that the old-fart scientists who were automatically suspicious of fellow scientists who sought popularity and large circulations were being dog-in-the-manger. Now I’m less sure.

    Seth: I ignore Wolpert’s excuse. Maybe he paid someone to write it. Who knows. My experience is that when scientists write for a large audience they are as good or as bad as when they write for fellow scientists. For large audiences, Hans Eysenck and Richard Herrnstein wrote badly. For fellow scientists, they also wrote badly. On the other side, Leon Kamin and Ben Williams wrote well for both audiences. So I see nothing wrong with writing for a large audience. Good scientists do it well, bad scientists don’t. There may be something to the idea that a certain deep dishonesty is behind some popular science writing by scientists — a willingness to say things are simpler than you know they are.

  8. jtw: “the graph at the link you supply that purports to show no warming comes from the not-very-credible-seeming Lord Monckton Foundation with no attribution or explanation.”

    Why does the Lord Monckton Foundation seem “not-very-credible”? As someone who claims to be unfamiliar with climate details, are you really in the best position to make that judgement?

    Additionally, Monckton is using data from RSS, the same data that’s often used by the IPCC. That is, it’s not his data. It’s available to just about anyone who ‘s interested.

    Moreover, the IPCC itself ACKNOWLEDGES there has been no warming for 17 years:

    “IPCC Head Rajendra Pachauri Acknowledges 17 Year Stall In Global Warming”

    Suzuki should have known about this, no?

    If you spend some time on that web site, you’ll learn far more about climate science than you will ever learn by reading, say, the NYT. And if you want to ask specific questions, feel free to join in the conversations on this web site:

    Watt’s Up With That

  9. Will splenda affect the palatability of the food that rodents eat? Studies where sweetener is added to the diet are problematic. If it affects either the quantity of food eaten, or the meal pattern (continuous nibbling vs. discreet meals, light cycle eating vs night cycle eating) then gut bacteria could be affected through the sweetness–and you’d expect to be able to find all sorts of poor results with sweetened foods–no matter what the sweetener. This would apply to cancer as well, when given with food–increased chow intake or a disordered meal pattern can worsen cancer.

    There are all kinds of bitter substances that seem to have beneficial effects, as well… Stephan Guyunet once suggested to me in his comment section that the bitterness might be affecting consumption, and as often be what leads to a good result, rather than some more complicated explanation.

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