With newspaper revenues cratering, most reporters are too busy covering their ever-expanding beats to think imaginatively about ways to cover a story. But Seth Borenstein, who has been reporting on science issues for the Associated Press for years, doesn't need to fear for his next paycheck, and has consistently brought imagination to his work. Confronted with a "zombie" (that is, brain dead) argument that the global climate is cooling, because the warmest year on record is 1998, a canard foolishly repeated in the Superfreakonomics book, Borenstein cleverly sent the climate numbers to four different statisticians, without revealing the source, and asked them to talk about the trends they found.
The results? Not one of the four statisticians found a cooling trend. As Borenstein writes:
The experts found no true temperature declines over time.
"If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect," said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.
Brilliant. But one suspects the zombie argument will somehow stagger on...followed by the deniers.