The Joy of Survey Science

Science and Consensus – two concepts that are as alien as breathing and vacuum. But COSMOS magazine is having a survey on what the greatest challenge for science is.[Link] The questions and responses are below:

What we learn from this is that physics is old hat, but at least there is some concern for the demise of the species. Of course, given the inadequacy of our ability to educate our young in maths and science, we might as well just go stick our heads in the oven. Ah, but that would just add to the greenhouse gasses the administration says aren’t causing the non-existent global warming.

A survey from Australia purports to reveal connections between cellular phone manufacturer and owner characteristics.[Link] I am not too sure how these apply given the differences between Australians and the different types of Americans, but its interesting. What seems to have not been considered here is price. I carry a brand of phone that is almost opposite on ever characteristic. The selection criterion – lowest price.

On the same plane of idiocy, there is a WIRED article on April fool’s tricks for nerds.[Link] Apparently, WIRED doesn’t understand the difference between nerds and geeks as most of these are only geekish. Nerdish April fools tricks have to do with science rather than technology. Of course, given our educational system’s ineptitude in maths and science, the distinction may be beyond the capacity of even a supposedly technical reporting organization.

I could give some examples of nerdish April fool’s tricks but why should I contribute to the delinquency of geeks? Nerds can figure them out for themselves.

Happily, there are matters of consequence happening. The city of San Francisco, obviously emboldened by the success of New Yawk with trans fat, has banned plastic bags.[Link] We expect announcement of the closure of all Mal Wart stores in San Francisco momentarily. The British Food Standards Agency, obviously emboldened by the BBC’s historical program on empire, has demanded that manufacturers of junk food immediately reduce portion size.[Link] We expect announcement of immediate compliance by Mal Wart, with conserved unit price, of course.

Further demonstrating their greater ability to educate in the maths and sciences, and actually fund scientific research, English researchers have published evidence and analysis that fashions change at a relatively fixed rate, thus saying something concrete and useful about the attention span, or mean-time-to-yawn of consumers.[Link] At least we hope this holds for all humans and not just Englishmen. We expect the researchers will receive additional funding from Mal Wart to determine how to reduce the mean time. Perhaps they can hide the research on why some people never change in this effort?

And lastly, in an abnormal burst of American litigiousness, Delta Zeta sorority has initiated legal action against DePauw U for banning their local chapter after the sorority dumped all the non-hot members.[Link] Evidently the old saws about beauty and brains not always going together has some relationship to the prior legal action of the former members against the sorority. While this sort of things definitely uses up a lot of cellular phone minutes, can we consider it as part of the explanation for the nation’s inability to teach maths and science?

Interestingly, the sorority doesn’t even want to go into court, they have announced all they want is an out of court settlement. One has to wonder.