Life In The Tinderbox

  1. I don’t know very much about global warming. I can’t criticise a paper on methane seeps or the La Niña effect very well, because I can barely read them. It’s basically an area of applied mathematics. I don’t get it.
  2. It attracts The Unholy Bugshit. Self-explanatory. Mention anything about the climate on the internet, and baboons descend. I don’t have time to do the stuff I have time to do, and so arguing with someone called “KENNY MAGA #420 #SQUADLYF" about satellite measurements of ground temperature is lower on my To-Do list than doing my own dental work with a gutter adze.

Goddamn 1 d.p. Values

They’re the bane of my life.

  1. If we put in just the straight values from the paper, we get t=3.82, which is very definitely not t=4.07. This is not necessarily an error even if it was entered as 1 d.p. data, as software will often not tell you what t-test assumptions it uses at exactly n=30, and that point is important (Central Limit Theorem represent). We have no idea how it was originally done, because the paper — as is so often the case in non-technical papers — doesn’t list how anything was calculated. It could be a supercomputer or a pencil.
  2. We don’t have a good method to find out precisely what the right values are. We could shuffle any of the above parameters a little and get the right answer, but we don’t have any anchors for the right value. The lack of data, calculatory details and 1 d.p. has defeated us completely.


Something has gone seriously curly here. In total, we have:

  • a series of extraneous and curious details (“Is this corpse dead? Rate its deadness from 1 to 7”…)
  • wrong dfs…
  • potentially curious t-values…
  • bizarrely restricted variation in ALL samples…
  • …^ which is totally at odds with both (a) existing research using the same measure, (b) other measures of the same attitude and (c) common sense



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James Heathers

James Heathers

I write about science. We can probably be friends.