Bad Science Reporting in Action

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Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Nyarlathotep » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:01 am

So today I have seen umpteen million variations on this headline


Have researchers discovered an alien MEGASTRUCTURE? 'Bizarre' star could be surrounded by a Dyson sphere built by extraterrestrials, researchers claim

(yes, I realize this is the Daily Fail. But I have seen variations on the theme from other, more respectable publications and none of them are much better)

This is a prime example of how the media gets science reporting wrong. Basically the researchers said that an 'alien megastructure" is one possible explanation for the weirdness they noticed with this star, but not the only one and far from the most likely, still it is likely enough that it bears further looking into.' Now, aliens even being in the running for an explanation is pretty damned exciting but its a far cry from the way its being painted as scientists finally discovering extraterrestrials.

Pretty much a textbook case of how the media fucks up reporting on scientific discoveries every single time.
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:06 am

Not to mention the science fiction driven misconception of a Dyson sphere.
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Nyarlathotep » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:26 am

Here is the one and only article I have seen on it that keeps the possibility of aliens in the proper perspective. Unsurprisingly, courtesy of Phil Plait.

Did Astronomers Find Evidence of an Alien Civilization? (Probably Not. But Still Cool.)

From toward the end of the article
Which brings us back to KIC 8462852. What if we caught an advanced alien civilization in the process of building such an artifact? Huge panels (or clusters of them) hundreds of thousands of kilometers across, and oddly-shaped, could produce the dips we see in that star’s light.

Now I imagine some of you might expect me to rail against this idea, call it ridiculous, and pooh-pooh the notion of aliens and all that.

Well, surprise! I actually kinda like it. I’m not saying it’s right, mind you, just that it’s interesting. Wright isn’t some wild-eyed crackpot; he’s a professional astronomer with a solid background. As he told me when I talked to him over the phone, there’s “a need to hypothesize, but we should also approach it skeptically” (paraphrasing a tweet by another astronomer, David Grinspoon), with which I wholeheartedly agree.

Look, I think it’s pretty obvious this scenario is, um, unlikely. But hey, why not? It’s easy enough to get follow-up observations of the star to check the idea out. It’s low probability but high stakes, so probably worth a shot. And it’s not exactly science fiction; Wright and a few other astronomers have submitted a paper (pending publication) to the prestigious Astrophysical Journal examining the physics of these structures and detailing how they could be detected around other stars.
That's pretty much how I see it. "Aliens dunnit" is pretty low on the list of possible explanations, but the fact that it makes the list at all is exciting as hell and makes it worthy of further study.
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by sparks » Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:47 pm

'Aliens dunnit' is just a step above 'Gawd dunnit'.
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Harte » Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:29 pm

Meh.
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Witness » Fri Oct 16, 2015 12:24 am

No Armageddon? No gOD? No aliens? No Bigfoot? No miracle cures? No… :(

Image

I want my world magical, so stop that!

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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Fri Oct 16, 2015 12:31 am

Belgians in colorful native costume? :BigGrin3:
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Witness » Fri Oct 16, 2015 12:45 am

Abdul Alhazred wrote:Belgians in colorful native costume? :BigGrin3:
No, Belgium looks like that:

Image
NSFW:
Last edited by Witness on Fri Oct 16, 2015 12:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Fri Oct 16, 2015 12:51 am

Witness wrote: ...
rest here :D
Warning: Site even more NSFW that you might think. :cowbell:
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Witness » Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:02 am

Abdul Alhazred wrote:
Witness wrote: ...
rest here :D
Warning: Site even more NSFW that you might think. :cowbell:
Ah… uh… diden't look at the surroudings! :oops: OK, so let's play safe. Belgium looks like that:
NSFW:
Image
(Brussels, 09.26.2012 – "Bipolar Perversion" by Pascal Bernier)

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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Doctor X » Fri Oct 16, 2015 5:54 am

Witness wrote:
NSFW:
He is used to having to pay a few hundred an hour for that.

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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Witness » Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:20 am

Doctor X wrote:He is used to having to pay a few hundred an hour for that.

--J.D.
Quite. That guy is obscene.

It's often the case with priests. I don't usually venture into churches (gets my hoofs smoldering) but once I went as an ex friend, who is a good amateur soprano, had a concert there. Alas when I entered the resident (protestant) priest was blathering and oozed such disgusting slime that I immediately left.
Later I had to explain, which generated some incredulity… :P :) :twisted:

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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Doctor X » Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:39 am

. . . but she had good throat control, yes?

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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by sparks » Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:52 pm

Sexually repressed Cathoholic girls are the best! :) (Well, the ones that aren't frigid...)
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Anaxagoras » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:41 am

Looks like the right thread for this story:

NASA CONFIRMS THAT THE ‘IMPOSSIBLE’ EMDRIVE THRUSTER REALLY WORKS, AFTER NEW TESTS

:cowbell:

The story refutes the headline, btw. Except for breathless pronouncements like "Isaac Newton should be sweating."
On the NASA spaceflight forums, March revealed as much as he could about the advancements that have been made with EmDrive and its relative technology. After apologizing for not having the ability to share pictures or the supporting data from a peer-reviewed lab paper, he starts by explaining (as straightforward as rocket science can get) that the Eagleworks lab successfully built and installed a 2nd generation magnetic damper which helps reduce stray magnetic fields in a vacuum chamber. The addition reduced magnetic fields by an order of magnitude inside the chamber, and also decreased Lorentz force interactions.

However, despite ruling out Lorentz forces almost entirely, March still reported a contamination caused by thermal expansion. Unfortunately, this reported contamination proves even worse in a vacuum (i.e. outer space) due in large part to its inherently high level of insulation. To combat this, March acknowledged the team is now developing an advanced analytics tool to assist in the separation of the contamination, as well as an integrated test which aims to alleviate thermally induced errors altogether.
NASA concluded the RF resonant cavity thruster design does produce thrust “not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon.” In other words, NASA confirmed Shawyer’s initial prognosis (much like the team of Chinese scientists), but couldn’t come up with a reasonable explanation as to why the thing works outside of, “it just does.”
So despite not being able to eliminate thermally induced errors in measurement and no peer-reviewed study (this is post on an internet forum) and no proposed mechanism to account for the thrust, we get the headline that the thruster "really works". :roll:
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Bruce » Wed Nov 11, 2015 6:54 am

Witness wrote: No, Belgium looks like that:
So let me see if I'm understanding this correctly.

These women are protesting a homophobic priest by ganging up on him in public, topless, and acting like maniacs?

Scared of gay people? Oh, we'll give you something to be scared of!
Such potential!

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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:49 pm

Bruce wrote:
Witness wrote: No, Belgium looks like that:
So let me see if I'm understanding this correctly.

These women are protesting a homophobic priest by ganging up on him in public, topless, and acting like maniacs?

Scared of gay people? Oh, we'll give you something to be scared of!
:lmao:
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Rob Lister » Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:11 pm

Anaxagoras wrote: So despite not being able to eliminate thermally induced errors in measurement and no peer-reviewed study (this is post on an internet forum) and no proposed mechanism to account for the thrust, we get the headline that the thruster "really works". :roll:
That's about it. And a forum post on a blog constitutes publishing.

It is to sigh.

To be fair to those working on this, they are not saying what the headline is claiming. But nor are they refuting. I think they really do think that there is something to this. Or perhaps they do not wish to return the grant money. I think the latter is the more likely, assuming they are in any way competent

Nevertheless, the right way for them to engage the public about this is to ask for help in finding their error.

Here's a good example of how to do it right ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-th ... no_anomaly
In 2011, the OPERA experiment mistakenly observed neutrinos appearing to travel faster than light. Even before the mistake was discovered, the result was considered anomalous because speeds higher than that of light in a vacuum are generally thought to violate special relativity, a cornerstone of the modern understanding of physics for over a century.[1][2]

OPERA scientists announced the results of the experiment in September 2011 with the stated intent of promoting further inquiry and debate.
To be clear, they stated publicly that they understood their setup was flawed but they could not find the flaw. And so they asked for help from the scientific community in finding said flaw. It turned out to be a loose fiber-optic connection at one end of the experiment.

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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by Anaxagoras » Wed Jan 06, 2016 12:28 pm

http://www.i4u.com/2016/01/102490/nasa- ... lose-earth
Supermassive Black Hole Found Burping Close to Earth
Close to earth? Uh-oh!
Potent seizures are occurring in a humongous black hole nearby. It was discovered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. It is the nearest black hole and the changes occurring in it are violent indeed.
So this black hole is "nearby" and also "the nearest black hole".
The black hole is situated at the center of a minuscule galaxy named NGC 5195. It further merges with another galaxy NGC 5194 which is also known as “The Whirlpool”. Both galaxies are in the Messier 51 galaxy cluster which is located 26 million light years from earth.
Oh, I see. By "nearby" and "nearest" they mean "1000 times farther away than Sagittarius A*", the supermassive black hole at the center of our own galaxy.
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Re: Bad Science Reporting in Action

Post by sparks » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:26 pm

The fact that it is near to Earth is not the issue. The fact that it is making rude noises at the dinner table is.
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