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23 January 2009 @ 09:13 pm
Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhh, again, with added rambling.  
Guess what the temperature is? Yeah, add a bit.

Am still woefully behind on comments because I would like to reply sensibly. The cool change is slated for Sunday, expect replies, and a collation of the penis post results! Part two of Single Wizard's is with my brilliant beta, expect derangement.

I nearly leapt from my desk to strangle someone this afternoon when my idiot co-worker (there is always one)  declared that although it was hot here, the record lows in the US showed that global warming was a myth. Instead, I held myself back and politely asked him why the top 10 hottest years on record had all occurred in the last 11 years.

'Yeah, but that's just in Australia.'

'No,' I replied. 'That's globally. Remember that many countries have experienced record highs and record lows in the same years over the last decades.'

'Well, I still think it's exaggerated.'

I sighed. 'Would you mind explaining where all the glaciers are hiding, then? Because I'd quite like them back.'

Talking with most journalists about science reminds me why I believe that journalists should have to pass a certified test before they are allowed to talk about science. There was the one a few years back who talked about the need to include his paragraphs on creationism in a story on evolutionary biology 'for balance'. I argued that it was a science story, and therefore religion was out of place. I argued that he hadn't included quotes from satisfied drug users in his recent story about the link between marijuana use and schizophrenia. I was ignored. The editor in chief said: 'What are you? American? Fuck that.' There was applause. (If you are even now saying But Creationism is real! go to footnote 1.)

Many journos also fail the logic test. It's not always their fault, schools are rubbish these days and the kids are taught that Wikipedia is a resource. (Not the kids I train, of course. They are taught that the very W word will make me froth with rage unless it is provided in the context of 'And then I went to find verification for all the assertions.')

Today a lovely cookery writer, who had been lead astray by Wiki and then gone a little further astray herself, wrote that powdered cocoa comes from chocolate liquor and that its separation was the first step in the chocolate-making process.

'I'm just going to tidy that up because there are a few factual errors there,' I muttered kindly.

'No, that's right. I checked it.'

'But chocolate contains cocoa. If you remove it to make cocoa powder, you end up with cocoa and cocoa butter, not chocolate. It's a separate process, cocoa butter is often added to other chocolate liquor to make some chocolates, and sometimes cocoa is used to make milk chocolate, but you're talking about the process to make cocoa powder, and you can't go from that to making chocolate as your next step.'

'But it was on the internet!'

'So is dwarf porn, it's still not right.'

I sometimes worry that the internet has taught people not to think. 'I checked the footnotes, the article they linked to said the same thing.' is the most common defence I receive from writers and subs who have used Wikipedia as a reference. They do not distinguish between a publicity article from the British potato marketing board and a scholarly article from a leading agricultural researcher that has passed a stringent peer review.

When I was a young girl, I remember crying at the realisation that I would die without learning everything I could. Apparently, some people missed that moment. I should be grateful, it means I can charge a high hourly rate and work with fun people aside from the one idiot. But some days I despair and consider going back to books.

In unrelated but slightly amusing news, I was walking home today thinking that I really must call my mother. Some 10 metres away a  car hooted and I heard my name called(2). It was her, and we had a quick catch up. Prior to this, I have not seen her in a year (this is quite normal, we like each other but lead separate, busy lives). I walked the rest of the way home thinking 'I really must buy a winning lottery ticket and secure a record-breaking book deal.' One never knows ...



1. Creationism is not science. However, as a friend of mine who is a devout Christian and a geologist says: 'The god that I believe in is certainly capable of setting in motion a universe that could evolve following the laws that are suggested by the evidence before us. I can cope with metaphors that are more complex than the ones Jews in the desert thousands of years ago used.'

My heathen little heart says that if your faith is threatened by good science, then it's your faith, not the science, that is the problem and you ought to be spending more time worrying about what you are learning in church and less time worrying about what the kids are learning at school.

2. 'How did you know it was me?' I asked, given that I was on the other side of the road with my back to her.

'Who else has hair that long and a red parasol?' she replied.

'Five year olds!'

'You're slightly taller.'

We're clearly related ;-)
 
 
 
old_enoughold_enough on January 23rd, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
The stars are clearly in the correct alignment for you...

And it was a conversation like yours with your colleague that first made me realize that I actually WAS capable of strangling someone and that I maybe should be just a tad bit careful about my temper :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 12:03 pm (UTC)
I am firmly of the belief that you should be able to get away with thumping such people on the grounds of self-defence. You're defending your sanity against their stupidity, it's far more precious than a black eye!
Rose: Cheeringfourth_rose on January 23rd, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
Here, have a big fat word!cake with an extra cookie for footnote 1 ;)

I say this as a historian who has to live with the fact that most people tell me journalists write better history books because they're "more entertaining", or, to quote one particular guy, "You historians make everything sound so complicated!"
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC)
I am longing for a desk to bang my head against ...

A journalist or fiction author working ALONGSIDE an historian, with the historian being the final arbiter of what goes in, I could accept, but journalists are the people who tell me things like 'Spanish sailors made eating potatoes famous around the world in 1536'.
(no subject) - fourth_rose on January 23rd, 2009 12:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 12:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fourth_rose on January 23rd, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sesheta_66 on January 23rd, 2009 12:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fourth_rose on January 23rd, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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nahimanaemerald_dragon8 on January 23rd, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
They do not distinguish between a publicity article from the British potato marketing board and a scholarly article from a leading agricultural researcher that has passed a stringent peer review.

*giggles* Oh, how sad (yet funny - '"ludicrously tragic", like when a clown dies' - sorry, cannot resist quoting the Simpsons).

'But it was on the internet!'

'So is dwarf porn, it's still not right.'


MWHAHA. I would love to say this to someone just to see the reaction...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC)
I gift it to you. In this case the writer was acting in good faith and did see the point, she was just horrified to realise how many lies are out there!
alienor77310alienor77310 on January 23rd, 2009 12:07 pm (UTC)
I had to talk some sense into a friend the other day. She lives in Florida and *gasp* it's freezing there at the moment. She'd just sent me an op-ed piece from a local paper about the fact that Earth was cooling down (duh, earth sciences 101) and instead of global warming, we were actually entering a new glacial era. A guy in Japan and one in Russia said so. *blink*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 12:12 pm (UTC)
They'd be the same two guys running the dwarf porn site. Sigh.

Send your friend over here where we can point weakly at her and laugh feebly ;-)
(no subject) - drgaellon on January 23rd, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
jamie2109: emotional - crikeyjamie2109 on January 23rd, 2009 12:20 pm (UTC)
The more people I meet the more I seem to wonder where on earth they put their common sense.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 12:22 pm (UTC)
I suspect only places the Customs team could find it ...
(no subject) - old_enough on January 23rd, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - old_enough on January 23rd, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - drgaellon on January 23rd, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jamie2109 on January 23rd, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Potteresque Irepotteresque_ire on January 23rd, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)
Footnote 1 is something I've said before and definitely have thought many times before ;). Working in science actually makes me wonder more about the existence of a higher being because of the sheer complexity of even the simplest living thing we take for granted. The sad thing is that many religious leaders instill the thought in their followers that scientists are out there to "get them", to prove their God false. Um, no - our goal is much more humble than that; we'd like to solve a few problems, figure out how some things work, that's pretty much it. Other times we are too busy washing dishes.

They do not distinguish between a publicity article from the British potato marketing board and a scholarly article from a leading agricultural researcher that has passed a stringent peer review.
Although, stringent peer review may actually be the collective mumblings of several first year grad students who can't understand most of the paper. In that case, the difference between the two is that the publicity article is probably better written ;).
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)
Hee, the bad writing in science journals is a separate, equally depressing issue ;-)

Yeah, the whole us vs them thing that some religious leaders rabbit on about is just baffling. They shave, eat shellfish and hold the Sabbath on the wrong day, so why do they cling tooth and nail to literal six day creations?

I hear you science types build labs out of Ikea shelving when you're not washing dishes ;-)
(no subject) - potteresque_ire on January 24th, 2009 02:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - drgaellon on January 23rd, 2009 10:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - potteresque_ire on January 24th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
Seshetasesheta_66 on January 23rd, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC)
You'll be pleased to know that the schools (at least my sons' schools) do not allow Wikipedia as a reference, and they are told repeatedly that entries do not equate to fact.

Hee. My children are Catholic and attend Catholic school. I have always tempered the teachings that sway towards "because God said so", "it's written in the bible" and "God created/did that" with a heavy dose of observation and logic. That's not to say that God isn't possible, or that the concept is illogical, but as I have yet to see any concrete proof of Him, my brain seeks alternative (and, yes, scientific) support for things. Faith can be a wonderful thing, and perhaps science will prove God's existence some day. But just because it's written in a book, doesn't make it so. I have a friend who tries to support her ideas by saying it's in the bible. My clearly uninformed comment that the bible was written by men, and has been further translated by men numerous times forever falls on deaf ears.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Hurrah! Now we just need to beat it out of graduate journalists!

I'm all for faith, but offering up your virgin daughters to rapists is in the Bible, so I don't think it's a good idea to take the whole thing on face value ...
(no subject) - drgaellon on January 23rd, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on January 23rd, 2009 01:10 pm (UTC)
I more and more tend towards the idea that science and religion are orthagonal concepts: there is no way you can describe one in terms of the other.

Add art and personality on another pair of orthogonal axes, and that could work quite nicely as a set :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 23rd, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
You'll never convince me that maths and physics are not art ;-)
(no subject) - i_autumnheart on January 23rd, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on January 24th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - drgaellon on January 23rd, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on January 24th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - drgaellon on January 24th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Snape's Angel: ravenclawangela_snape on January 23rd, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
-> If there was a way to send you some of our snow/cold, I'd gladly send you ours. We have another frigid weekend coming.

-> Most of the teachers I know do not accept Wikipedia as a resource. Some will suggest using it to find other sources - the ones listed at the bottom of the Wiki article, for example, can be a good starting-off point. I also know at least one teacher who has edited Wiki articles to contain the wrong information right before an essay was due/test date - changing it right back after the deadline (if it hadn't been corrected by someone else by then). Personally, I tell my students that reading the Wikipedia entry on their subject may help them understand the topic better so they may then do proper research. I even suggest they use *gasp* books and journals and not just the internet. :-)

-> Creationism in an evolution article? *eye roll* I teach biology - I will mention Creationism/Intelligent design in passing when I teach evolution next month... but only because it's in the syllabus. One of my colleagues either skips the evolution unit entirely, or assigns it as independent study.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 24th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
We have a cool front rolling in at the moment, which I hope means that some of that heat is on its way to you.

And yes, there are some things about Wiki that can be good; it's certainly more involving than the Britannica website ... but, as you say, not as a final point of call!
(no subject) - angela_snape on January 24th, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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lilian_cho: Baobab for me <3lilian_cho on January 23rd, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC)
O/T
Is that Uruhara's hat on the dragon's head?

Has it always been on your icon (and I fail to notice it OhTheShameHowShallILiveWithMyselfNow) or is it a recent addition?
(Deleted comment)
Re: O/T - lilian_cho on January 24th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on January 24th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Vaysh Swiftstorm: D/H_touchvaysh on January 23rd, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
When I was a young girl, I remember crying at the realisation that I would die without learning everything I could. Apparently, some people missed that moment.

Me, I think this moment is the ticket into true adulthood. The desire to know matched with a sound sense of humility before what all there is to know. I realise we live in a teenage culture.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 24th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
I have faith that we're all growing up out of that now. (Still drinking the Obama Kool-Aid here ;-)
Asta: com sarcasmastarael02 on January 23rd, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC)
Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!
*deep breath*
Sorry, lol, your post just brought to my mind two of the kinds of people who make me so ANGRY I become unable to even argue properly cos I'm too busy fuming: Creationists (especially those who want creationism to be taught as a viable alternative to evolution) and people who STILL, after all these years and YEARS, don't believe that global warming is real, or anything to do with us.

I worked in a chemical laboratory last year, and none of the scientists believed in global warming! They read the daily mail every day (not relevant, but meant that most of their opinions aggravated me) and one of them even said that global warming was "made up" by the government to get money out of us! I mean, WTF?? I mean, they're SCIENTISTS! They had a copy of New Scientist in the office showing all the arguments about global warming and backing them up or refuting them with scientific research and knowledge, and they read the article and dismissed it, just ignored it and carried on thinking that!

Sorry about the rant. I'm not ranting at you, obviously. I must go and try to lower my blood pressure :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 24th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Yes! I am fine with people who believe in creation and want it taught in the Religious Studies classroom, but Science is not the place.

And, seriously, the Global Warming Is A Conspiracy brigade are deluded in their belief that governments could ever coordinate an effective conspiracy (remember how everyone knew WMDs were a lie? Hmmmm)

*Sends you calming vibes!*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 24th, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
I bet the people who run Cityrail torture small animals on their days off :-(
Coffeejunkii: willow and xander disapprove! (by elsmokcoffeejunkii on January 23rd, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
creationism is one of the dumbest things ever to emerge from the u.s., and i can't believe it's taught as science in some states. ugh, ugh.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 24th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
I'm all for holding onto traditions, but yeah, using 19th century science textbooks is taking things too far.
Catscatsintheattic on January 23rd, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
I have explicitly forbidden my students to name Google and Wikipedia as their source. Because, honestly, Google is no source. It's a search engine. And Wikipedia is nothing more than nice place to start a search.