Head in a Cloud

troposphere and stratosphere meet blogosphere

Head in a Cloud random header image

Know anything about carma.org (not the model)?

November 16th, 2007 by Hasenkopf · No Comments

Granted I don’t study present-day Earth’s climate change, but I was still surprised that the first I heard of a new website carma.org was through CNN yesterday rather than through the scientific community. Carma.org is a repository of CO2 emission and other energy consumption data by geographical locations all across the world. Have any of you heard of this through other sources than CNN?? Any idea how reliable the data is? I haven’t looked through this extensively yet, but The Digging Deeper section is a cool interface and I do like that, IF the data is accurate, it is made available like this to the world. Anyways, I’d really like to hear peoples’ thoughts on what they think of the site; I noticed none of the blogs (linked on the left of this page) have mentioned it yet. Read on for the “rambling” portion of the article that is tangential to the topic above. :o)

I’ve always been kind of awed by the amount of information that is available to download or be modified/augmented on the web by anyone with a computer and an internet connection and think that this, overall, must have crazy-positive effects on scientific productivity (despite google chat and phdcomics.com). And these thoughts have always been tempered with understanding that, theoretically, there are many ways in which this ability to access and change data can lead one down the path of misuse, misinterpretations, and out-and-out lies. But I had a personal experience that has particularly jaded me of late from my generally positive outlook on the subject. A relative told me a few days ago they found my name attached to a citation on a wikipedia article on Saturn’s moon Titan. I was HIGHLY skeptical of this, since, uh, there’s no way anything I have done in the last year in a half of research deserves mentioning in a broad and generalized discussion of Titan. I checked the article out, and I was credited with an effect on Titan that was first theorized by planetary scientist Chris McKay while I was in middle school in the early nineties probably learning how to graph y = 5x+1. Apparently, I’d mentioned this effect in an abstract that had been posted online, and someone came across this and decided it was okay to cite background information from an abstract as being something I had done.

I know a wikipedia-miscommunication is not THE biggest a deal in the world since (a) I changed the citation in less than 10 minutes, (b) wikipedia is not seen as a reliable citation source by any research community, and (c) the essential information (not the citation) was overall correct anyways, BUT it made it very real to me how easy it is to either intentionally manipulate (i.e. posting biased data) or unintentionally propagate misinformation to large amounts of people (most of whom are not in a research community and might take for granted what is on a website such as wikipedia is true) on a global scale. Okay, enough rambling: back to the original point of the article: how much should I believe the data on carma.org?

Tags: general interest · Uncategorized

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment