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Skeptical Science housekeeping: Twitter and double-posts

Posted on 16 December 2009 by John Cook

The primary purpose of Skeptical Science was always to be a database of skeptic arguments. As the readership grew, some young whippersnappers started requesting a blog. Apparently, they're all the rage on the interweb these days. Eventually I succumbed, figuring the list of arguments would be updated regularly so a blog would be a convenient way to announce new updates. And on that line of thought, I've stepped grudgingly into the 21st Century and created a Twitter account.

I confess I'm highly skeptical of social media. I subscribe to the notion that social media are good for nothing but empty neural calories. So don't expect to learn what I've eaten for breakfast or what I'm watching on TV. I'll be mainly tweeting on Skeptical Science blog posts (regardless of whether that's a Twitter faux pas). I'll also mention minor updates to subpages that don't warrant a full blog post. And if I bump into an interesting article, I may throw up a URL.

There have been a few other updates to the website:

  • Probably the most significant and welcome update in years - I've removed that glitch that double-posts your comments when you refresh the browser. I'm sure everyone will be as happy about this update as I am, being the person who had to delete all the double posts.
  • The search form (in the left margin) now searches blog posts as well as skeptic arguments.
  • For the graph of CO2 versus temperature over the last 450,000 years on "CO2 lags temperature", I'd previously used a picture I'd grabbed off the internet - I had no idea where it came from. I've finally got around to doing it properly, tracking down the data sources for temperature and CO2 over the past 450,000 years derived from Vostok ice cores and and plotted them in Excel. In fact, what the hell, I'll tweet this as an update...

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Comments 1 to 12:

  1. John, thank you again and again for your tireless efforts on this site. Over the past few months the blog has really been outstanding. There is no better site on the internet for the informed and intellectually curious lay reader to learn about and discuss the science of climate change.
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  2. I'll add my thanks and appreciation for the efforts at this site. The Signal to Noise ratio is high in the comments also. Cheers
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  3. I second the comments above. This is an excellent site. Informative and classy with a straightforward presentation of the science. What more could any citizen want...
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  4. On a general topic, web traffic to your site (according to has increased significantly over the last couple of months. This is true of most blogs on climate science (or those pretending to cover climate science) and is likely a sad result of the stolen emails incident. A big chunk of the population doesn't care about science unless there's some juicy gossip being perpetuated by an eager media machine. The traffic increase here appears to be a bit sharper relative to previous traffic than with other sites. I think the expansion to a blog format is a good thing. This site helps inform visitors what the science says, allowing them to cut through the spin they might be reading elsewhere. Keep up the good work. Not a big deal or at all high priority, but you might want to update the following skeptical argument at some point (see my last post in the comments section):
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  5. You're right NewYorkJ. I only started coming to this site a little over a month ago. I was appalled at the media's grab at the "controversial" science around global warming and couldn't believe how quickly people lapped it up. So even if it is a sad result it has forced me to do proper research on global warming so I can actually fight back with facts and openness. (and yes part of the spike in web traffic is to do with me, my family and friends I have forwarded the link to which has to be a good thing!) Thanks John!
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  6. I just wanted to say thanks also for this great site, its a invaluable tool, filled with science, logic, reasoning and critical thinking. Keep up the great work.
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  7. I was lead to this site by somebody posting a comment on The Age website, and I am so glad I found it! I had been reading comments made by sceptics on forums like The Age, and trying to make informed comments myself, but the whole tone was so shrill and relied in the end to name calling and be-littlement of people with opposing views (the amount of times I was told to go and "educate" myself for having a view that sided with scientific results not conspiracy theories!). This site is like a drink of cold water - very refreshing!
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  8. That may have been me Em, I'm constantly pointing people here. John provides the most incisive, concise explanations of the science anywhere. Thanks John! Lately I've been seeing 'skeptics' trotting out their lame argument that because there were vinyards in England during the Roman period, therefore global warming isn't happening. But you don't have that on your hottest skeptic arguments. Perhaps it is just too lame to add to your list, but it would be handy to be able to point them at a concise rebuttal.
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    Response: The general argument is addressed indirectly when answering the argument "The Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today". The answer is that while certain regions show past warmth comparable to recent decades, the global average temperature is cooler over the past 1,700 years (Mann 2008).
  9. By the way, I just noticed the 'link to this post' link that John has at the top of each of his posts. Up til now I've been typing out the links manually - doh! Use it people, It'll significantly enhance your wack-a-mole capability.
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    Response: Even more useful is the "Link To Us" page (look for the link in the top navigation links) which generates up to 5 URLs for you. It also gives you the option to either generate a plain URL, HTML link or even a short answer along with the URL.
  10. Thanks for that tip John. Is it possible to add a search box to that feature so that the lists in the drop-down boxes get filtered by a search term applied to the pages they refer to?
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    Response: That's a clever idea, I've added a search form to the Link To Us page. Many thanks for the suggestion!
  11. Man, I send you a tweet last day thanking you for your efforts, let me thank you here again. Excellent Site
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  12. pico writes: Lately I've been seeing 'skeptics' trotting out their lame argument that because there were vinyards in England during the Roman period, therefore global warming isn't happening. But you don't have that on your hottest skeptic arguments. Perhaps it is just too lame to add to your list, but it would be handy to be able to point them at a concise rebuttal. I like this rebuttal: Medieval warmth and English wine and a brief follow-up: English vinyards again To summarize: (1) Before 1200, there were at least 50 vinyards in England, all located south of a line running from Cambridgeshire to Gloucestershire. (2) During the 19th century, vinyards almost disappeared from the UK. In the 1800s, only 8 were reported. (3) In the 1950s, vinyards started reappearing, and they have increased in numbers rapidly over the past few decades. There are now over 400 in England, extending much further north than ever before (e.g., Yorkshire and Lancashire). English vinyards are probably not actually a good climate proxy, since they're affected by other factors like trade, the economy, consumption preferences, etc. But if one insists on using them as a proxy, they nicely agree with the consensus view: the North Atlantic experienced a mild Medieval Warm Period, a cool LIA, and a rapid warming post 1950, now to levels greater than the MWP (if you go by vinyards).
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