• To deny climate change in 2019, in the face of overwhelming evidence and the effects of climate change manifesting all around us, requires either a high level of ignorance and scientific illiteracy or sociopathic […]

    • It took me a while to figure out your 2nd point, about including global averages way outside the habitable range, until I realized what Moore’s inadequately described chart is actually showing. It took a very close look to discover all the bars didn’t begin at 0, but somewhere very close to 0. The tops of each bar are not the global average temperature each year, but the highest local average temperature somewhere, where? He doesn’t say. And it is probably wrong. And the bottom of each bar isn’t 0, it’s the lowest average temperature (somewhere?) Probably also incorrect.
      We can only assume the vertical scale is in degrees F, since he doesn’t say. Doesn’t he know that F goes negative? Zero isn’t the coldest possible temperature. He should h ave made the scale go to -60F, since he extends it to +120 F, or about 60 degrees above the top of the average bar. Much better, from his perspective, would have been to make the vertical axis in Kelvin, starting at 0. Then all the bars would be between 273 and 287, about 5% of the chart’s vertical size, and all the year-to-year variation would be about 1 pixel. But he didn’t do that because he is a moron.

      The chart should really be what I recently found out is called a whisker chart. Each year should have a very thin line running from the lowest regional average temperature to the highest, with a much fatter middle section encompassing the standard deviation (about 2/3’s of the sites would be in the fat section), with a line connecting the averages for each year. The vertical scale should accommodate the lowest and highest points and not much more. But he wouldn’t do that because it wouldn’t support his point. That chart would show the average temperature increasing exponentially and the thick part (not the extremes) following suit.
      I’m sure this graph is available on some climate change web site, but Google is not my friend today. No matter how I ask, it keeps wanting to show me snowfall averages in Burlington VT (a mere 200 miles away, but certainly not local to me and definitely ignoring the entire concepts of “global” and “temperature”. Feh!

  • “Fast Color” Director Points Out Film’s Lack of Marketing and Hollywood’s Old White, Male Gatekeepers, by Jordan Simon (h/t Muscadine): “‘There is so much lip service in this industry about wanting women […]

  • Donald Trump has an impressively horrific record for avoidable death tolls. At last count, American fatalities in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria have surpassed 3,000, many of them preventable had the Trump […]

    • Donald Trump follows his passions: Golf, Ivanka, and punishing people for not being him.

    • My guess is the red bar is the amount of aid promised and the blue part is the amount of aid actually provided for various humanitarian crises around the world, with the first bar representing Puerto Rico. Of course the data on the charts is totally fabricated and wildly out of scale (the red part should be 9 to 10 times as large as the blue bar in the 1st column.) Trump is attempting to claim that since the promised but undelivered aid is so much larger than the other columns (Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Indonesian tidal waves (there was another one last December) and third-world caddies being struck by errant golf balls at various Trump resorts), he is the Bestest Humanitarian Aid Promiser EVER. LOCK HER UP! NO COLLUSION!

  • Oglala Sioux Tribe Tells South Dakota Governor ‘You Are Not Welcome’ in Dispute Over Right to Protest Keystone Pipeline, by Dara Sharif at The Root. “In a letter to the Republican governor Thursday, Julian Bea […]

    • I am so glad to see some of the old posters come back. While I have continued to watch, and like, Rebecca’s video posts, I have missed the old posters. But now you all are back. Happy days are here again! 🙂

  • I should probably title this “The Return of the Return of Bad Chart Thursday: This Time I Really Mean It,” because I’ve struggled to write this column as often as I’d like—ideally, every Thursday, but now that T […]

  • Melanie Mallon‘s profile was updated 2 weeks, 2 days ago

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 2 weeks, 2 days ago

    Pay-to-play religion is the perfect description for Scientology.

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 2 weeks, 3 days ago

    That samurai sword has gotten me through a rough few years. As a reminder to hang in there and, of course, as a letter opener.

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 2 weeks, 3 days ago


  • Assaults on Border Patrol agents have been decreasing for years, but as Debbie Nathan of the Intercept reported earlier this week, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in fiscal year 2015, started quietly […]

  • US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared on 60 Minutes earlier this month, in part to plug her latest pyramid scheme: for-profit school choice.

    Yet DeVos couldn’t answer basic questions from host Leslie S […]

    • So the Secretary of Education is an ignoramus. And the Secretary of Defense is offensive. The Secretary of the Treasury is a bank robber (well, a banker and a robber). The Secretary of Agriculture is an herbicidal maniac. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is malignant and inhumane. The Secretary of State is, uh, what’s the opposite of stately? Someone want to help me? I don’t want to google the whole cabinet!
      BTW, welcome back, Melanie 🙂 I’ve missed you guys.

      • Berlusconian? Though the centrists are now trying to convince me Five Star Movement’s a leftist party.

        At the same time, there’s more and more Clinton’s cult of personality striking back. Now opposing anything either Clinton did is becoming a dealbreaker, yes, including things like DOMA and the Iraq invasion.

  • ThumbnailIt’s a new year, and that means it’s time to start getting excited about another SkepchickCon! As you’ll remember, last year was pretty sweet, what with our Science Salons, our interactive Sandbox activities, our […]

    • 1) The donation form and receipt say “SkepchickCon 2014”. Shouldn’t this be 2015?

      2) Also, is Skepchick LLC (the organization receiving the donations) a 501(c)3? (In other words, are donations tax-deductible?)

      3) Buzzed Aldrins are tiny and delicious. This makes it easy to drink hundreds of them. DAMHIKT.

    • Thanks! I must have deleted it while changing the order of the links. Fixed now.

  • ThumbnailRoman Bystrianyk and Suzanne Humphries have a cherry to pick with proponents of vaccination. Their article on the measles vaccine was recently published on Health Impact News’s Vaccine Impact website under a […]

    • Our Skeptics in the Pub reboot on Monday watched Invisible Threat, a DVD about vaccines made by some amazing high school students. They included the first chart (or one very similar) and explained exactly what was wrong with it (conflating morbidity and mortality). Well worth watching if you get the chance. (You can download it for $5 from Vimeo; I would try to watch it with some friends or a class or other group so you can discuss it. There’s a lot of material to digest in 40 minutes.)

      BTW, we had 12 people show up in the midst of a blizzard (12″ of snow, single digit temps), so this is definitely a topic a lot of people are interested in.

    • Mr. Spock has got his shots. Your kids should too. It’s the logical thing to do.

      Mr. Spock Wants You to Vaccinate Your Kids

  • ThumbnailSo you want to make a point about Americans’ skewed perceptions of race?

    Step One: Don’t use a racist chart. Even if your heart is in the right place. Even if you really, really didn’t mean to be racist while […]

    • Okay, so according to that chart, am I white, black, Hispanic, or Muslim? I mean, I know, mitochondrial haplogroup X is related to Kurds, but still…

    • Of course, the number of Americans who think ‘Muslim’ is a race is significant. Along the the flat-earthers and climate change deniers.

      Still, wow! No Asians, including South Asians, no non-Hispanic Native Americans….? Who took the survey? Who were the people questioned? Hobby Lobby shoppers?

      • I can’t help but point out that James Abourezk and Darrell Issa are both Arab Christians. (And that Christians are one of the groups targeted by ISIS.)

        Then again, they probably don’t even realize not all Middle Eastern ethnic groups can be called Jews or Arabs.

        In other MENA news, fuck yeah!

    • The silliness of the chart is astonishing. Aside from the fact that, biologically speaking, race is a bogus concept, neither Muslim nor Hispanic is a race by any reasonable definition. Asian is usually considered a race, and in my neighborhood a highly visible one. Some of the Asians are Muslims, and some aren’t.
      There might be some value in a good study of general perceptions of the distributions of different groups versus the statistical reality. This is either not a good study or a terrible presentation of the data, probably both. And a pie chart is only useful if it includes ALL the possibilities and the possible groups don’t overlap. Aside from those issues, it’s great.

    • I actually thought the research showed that in general most people overestimate the percentage of the population of their own ethnic group. It makes sense when you consider the fact that we live in segregated areas, so the people you live around are likely to look just like you.

      A lot (A LOT) of the Hispanic population is going to overlap with the “white” population since the U.S. census includes Hispanic in “White” with hispanic being a separate question. White Non-Hispanic was 64% in the 2010 census, so it looks pretty clear to me that about 10 percentage points of the “White” are overlap.

      Also, the Muslim population overlaps a ton with both White and Black. I mean, perhaps the person making the chart meant “Arab.” However, in the 2010 Census Arab Americans self identified as about 0.5% of the population, half of the 1% claimed here, but perhaps he rounded up? Muslims as a religion do make up about 1% of the population, but even if you assumed all American Arabs were Muslim (hahahaha yah no but just role with me here), then the other half of all Muslims still overlap with the other ethnic groups. Not to mention there are plenty of Asian Muslims who apparently are imaginary according to these charts.

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 4 years, 3 months ago

    You’re right. It does look like that. I found it such a confusing mess to look at that I didn’t even draw that conclusion, but that is exactly what it looks like, Very misleading in a chart people see only briefly.

  • ThumbnailThe State of the Union now comes with full-color illustrations, which is nice for the kids, Powerpoint addicts, and anyone who wants to add another layer to the SOTU drinking game. Don’t worry, you can just create […]

    • The fraction of income chart makes it look as if, at some point around 1990, the percentage of income of the top 1% actually overtook that of the bottom 90%. Incredibly misleading.

      • You’re right. It does look like that. I found it such a confusing mess to look at that I didn’t even draw that conclusion, but that is exactly what it looks like, Very misleading in a chart people see only briefly.

    • That Iran chart’s like something on Buzzfeed. But yeah, most of those are simple things.

    • “Up to” is only my second favorite spin phrase. My favorite is “up to … and more!” (it always has to include the exclamation point), because that not only includes $5.50, but also $550 trillionquadrillionquintillion. Phil Rizzuto used to advertise some high-interest loan company on late night TV that could lend you up to 30 thousand, 40 thousand, 50 thousand or more! Could I borrow <twist-pinkie-at-corner-of-mouth>ONE MILLION DOLLARS? </twist-pinkie-at-corner-of-mouth>

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 4 years, 4 months ago

    If time passes in the forest but there’s nothing around to measure it, do I still hate Mondays?

  • ThumbnailShocking news from the unironically named website The Mind Unleashed: “MIT Researcher’s New Warning: At Today’s Rate, Half Of All U.S. Children Will Be Autistic By 2025.”*

    Autism: a fate worse than death for […]

    • Bonus benefit of getting rid of your calendars and clocks: you won’t age!

    • “Is it the use of two y-axes whose values can be adjusted to make the data fit as closely as you like?” Just elaborating on this point a bit, both overlaid graphs show approximately exponential growth. Lots of things show approximately exponential growth. E.g., Moore’s Law describes the change in processing power of computer chips as exponential growth. And, when rescaling the y-axis, all exponential growth curves can be made to look the same.* So I could construct a similar graph to show that the rise in autism follows a similar curve to the rise in computer processing power, and by similar reasoning argue that faster computer chips are causing autism. This point should be extremely obvious to any research scientist, so creating a graph like this one displays a willingness to use numbers to distort rather than inform. It is not inconceivable that chronic low doses of environmental toxins like pesticides could contribute to autism, but this is not evidence for that, and I’m not aware of any such evidence that is actually based in solid research rather than irresponsible speculation.

      * Explanation: the general exponential growth formula is y = b * e^t, where y is the response variable, t is the independent variable (usually time), and b is a growth constant. Rescaling the y axis of any graph is equivalent to replacing y with c*y, where c is the amount by which to rescale. But this gives c*y = b * e^t, or y = (b/c) * e^t. Since b and c are both constants, this is the same as the original growth formula with a new value for b. So if I have two approximately exponentially growing phenomena with growth constants b1 and b2, I can always make them look the same by rescaling the graph of the second one by c such that c = b1/b2.

      (BTW, sorry if there’s a double post on this — the site is really slow and from Cloudflare it looks like Skepchick might be getting DDOSed, so I’m not sure if my first post took.)

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 4 years, 5 months ago

    I wasn’t talking about validation. Takers’ self-assessment just points to the flaws in these types of tests. I’m not sure how they would look at the correlation over large samples without getting some kind of self-assessment from the takers, though.

    And the MBTI does have a problem with consistency over time, largely because it sets up…[Read more]

  • Melanie Mallon posted a new activity comment 4 years, 5 months ago

    I don’t fit neatly into a quadrant if I take everything into account (even with the original chart). I suspect I’m the hamster inside running on the wheel.

    You raise an interesting question, though, about self-identified potato cannibalism.

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