Methods and Madness - A Snowstorm and Global Warming

February 11, 2010
Posted by Jay Livingston

In the first week of intro, I talk about sociology as a science and the need for systematic evidence as opposed to anecdotal evidence. Using anecdotal evidence to “prove” a point has an obvious flaw – the conclusion depends entirely on who is gathering the evidence. It's an easy lesson, and the students all get the idea. As I say, the flaw is obvious.

Or is it?

Last night, The Daily Show strung together snippets of people on national TV (OK, mostly Fox News) using the current snowstorm in the Eastern US to disprove global warming.

“It’s one storm in one region of one country,” says Jon Stewart, “It makes no sense to extrapolate. . . .”

Here’s the clip. The relevant portion begins at about 3:45

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Is this extreme convenience sampling? Or, here in the East, is it snowball sampling?

1 comment:

Josh said...

In all fairness, I distinctly remember many people arguing that Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami off the coast of Indonesia were proof that we need to act on global warming before it's too late.

But I appreciate the point (and the pun!) nonetheless.