Monday, February 07, 2011

Of Charles Dickens, Crazy People, and Weird Science

Welcome to a new, hopefully snow-free week. Serious stuff first...

Today is the birthday of Charles Dickens, towering figure of English literature and author of such classics as Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and Bleak House.


I think it's amazing that entire nations (other than Iran) can turn into complete and utter lunatics...see this link for a frightening report about the attitudes of "moderate Muslims" in Pakistan: In Pakistan, Even Anti-Violence Islamic Sect Lauds Assassination of Liberal Governor.

Okay, now that I've gotten the cultural and serious part of this post out of the way, let's get on to the fun stuff. Heaven knows we need it.

Did you ever wonder what some of the verbiage in scientific papers means? If you read the fine print in the reports, studies, and white papers every side of a scientific argument trots out to bolster its position, it's a wonder that rational people can ever understand where the truth lies. Here's a handy guide to understanding scientific papers, adapted from an original posted by Miss Cellania ...

It has long been known: We couldn't find the original reference.

A definite trend was evident: These data are practically meaningless.

While it has not been possible to provide a definitive answer to all questions: An unsuccessful experiment, but we're publishing anyway, because no one will read this, anyhow.

Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study: The other results didn't make any sense.

Typical results are shown: This is the prettiest graph we could come up with.

These results will be published in a subsequent report: Our funding ran out before we could finish.

In our experience: Once.

In case after case: Twice.

In a series of cases: Three times.

It is believed that: I think.

It is generally believed that: A couple of others think so, too.

Correct within an order of magnitude: Incorrect.

According to statistical analysis: Rumor has it.

A statistically-oriented projection of the significance of these findings: A wild-ass guess.

A careful analysis of obtainable data: We looked at everything that agreed with our conclusions.

It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of this phenomenon occurs: We have no earthly idea how these results occurred.

After additional study by an independent team of researchers: They don't understand it either.

This represents a highly significant area for future exploratory study: The results are useless and inconclusive, but we got paid for it anyhow.

It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field: We're broke, and really need another grant.

It looks like it's going to be another meteorologically schizophrenic week, with warmish temperatures early in the week turning to rain, colder temperatures, and snow by Thursday. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to shoot the guy who forgot to pay the good weather bill.

Have a good day. Stay warm and dry. More thoughts tomorrow.


P.S. - Go, Steelers, anyhow!!



Mike said...

There is supposed to be a storm dip south of us today and then swing back to the north. In my experience I believe that in case after case this means something weatherwise. Maybe.

Raquel's World said...

These things always crack me up. Thanks for making me smile early Monday morning.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

~ sniffle ~


~ sniffle ~

KathyA said...

You had me until "Go Steelers"!!! :)