Daily Archives: November 6, 2011

Burrows et al 2011: The pace of shifting climate in marine and terrestrial ecosystems

I read this commentary (click here) on the above paper, and decided to link to this post because this is a very good example of the post-modern view of science…in this case a climate paper. In the post modern university something is true because it is believed (in this case because it can be modeled). Nothing is “true” in a real sense in post modern science beyond what is believed….no validation required.

The alternative is to use the methods of science to determine what is “true” and then believe that…..in which case the error bars and uncertainly analysis that are absent from this paper become all the more important…..and in fact they are critical so that readers can decide if this is something to pay attention to, or if the paper is, from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “…a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Unfortunately, post-modern journals publish these type of papers routinely….if the story fits the expectation of the reviewers and editiors the paper is usually published….if the story does not fit the expectation of reivewers and editors,  no matter how much statistical support it may have, the paper is at high risk to not be published. 

I do realize that there are various degrees of quality of scientific papers and not all studies that warrant publication can be statistically strong. But the problem with post modern science journals is that papers with very weak statistical support are published and over blown because they say the “right” story, whereas contrarian papers are stopped even if they have strong statistical support. This type of editorial prejudice is very harmful to science……

I do not argue that this paper should not have been published.  I argue that papers with a contrarian view or alternative hypothesis to this one should also be published if it meets the same minimal statistical standard presented here.

California climate rules to have negligible impact…

The recently adopted climate rules by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are projected to have no significant impact on lowering global temperatures…..a reduction of 0.005C compared to no rules by 2050….click here for discussion….

Ferguson et al 2011: Hand-pumps as reservoirs for microbial contamination of well water.

A.S. Ferguson, B.J. Mailloux, K.M. Ahmed, A. van Geen, L.D. McKay, and P.J. Culligan. Hand-pumps as reservoirs for microbial contamination of well water. Journal of Water and Health, 2011 Dec;9(4):708-717.

Abstract: The retention and release of total coliforms and Escherichia coli was investigated in hand-pumps removed from tubewells tapping a faecally contaminated aquifer in Matlab, Bangladesh, and from a new hand-pump deliberately spiked with E. coli. All hand-pumps were connected to reservoirs of sterile water and flushed. Faecal coliforms were observed in the discharge from all three of the previously used hand-pumps, at concentrations comparable to levels measured in discharge when they were attached to the tubewells. During daily flushing of one of the previously used hand-pumps, the concentration of total coliforms in the discharge remained relatively constant (≈10(3) MPN/100 mL). Concentrations of E. coli in the pump discharge declined over time, but E. coli was still detectable up to 29 days after the start of flushing. In the deliberately spiked hand-pump, E. coli was observed in the discharge over 125 days (t(50) = 8 days) and found to attach preferentially to elastomeric materials within the hand-pump. Attempts to disinfect both the village and new hand-pumps using shock chlorination were shown to be unsuccessful. These results demonstrate that hand-pumps can act as persistent reservoirs for microbial indicator bacteria. This could potentially influence drinking water quality and bias testing of water quality.