Junk Science and the Web

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A fabulous column mentioned in the Observer today. As a Sunday sideline it is worth reading the original post as an object lesson on the power and the occasional irresponsibility involved in web publishing.

While Bellamy’s source claimed that 55% of 625 glaciers are advancing, Bellamy claimed that 555 of them – or 89% – are advancing. This figure appears to exist nowhere else. But on the standard English keyboard, 5 and % occupy the same key. If you try to hit %, but fail to press shift, you get 555, instead of 55%. This is the only explanation I can produce for his figure. When I challenged him, he admitted that there had been “a glitch of the electronics”.



I was beginning to get bored with it until your quote came up. Then the whole article took on a new life. Definitely worth a furl.

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