Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Are journalists innumerate? Because the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal certainly seems to be. (Off-topic)

That's the headline at Scientific American. One of the reasons I'm posting this is SciAm used the word Innumerate in the head and the only other time I've seen that done was "The Innumerate Leading the Illiterate" right here at CI, commenting on Kevin Grandia at Desmogblog and his pitch that stopping CO2 emissions would cost $10 per person.

Our follow up post is here. I think someone at Desmogblog may have taken him aside to say "Don't post anything with a number in it" because while he's put out a fair amount of alpha; no further numeric.

Here's the story from SA:

I know we're not all scientists here, but anyone who has even glanced at the graphs in a few scientific papers will instantly recognize that trying to fit a curve to the following data is prima facie idiotic...

...I'm not going to go into the reasons why picking an inflection point at the one outlying data point on this graph is so, let us not be delicate--dumb, that you don't even have to understand the math to sense why this is wrong. Mostly because Mark Chu-Carroll, a software engineer at Google and author of the always excellent blog Good Math, Bad Math has already done it for me, and much better than I could have...