The Intersection

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Helene is getting to be a hell of a storm. Look at how well defined the eye is. Note also that the storm is taking up roughly a 5 degree by 5 degree latitude/longitude square. That’s big. Winds of hurricane strength extend outward 50 miles from the center. All of which means that if Helene tracks towards Bermuda, it could cause even more trouble than did Florence.

And did I mention that Helene is a Category 3 storm now? That’s the second major hurricane for the Atlantic basin this year. Of course, we haven’t had any 4s and 5s. Last year around this time, by contrast, we were about to witness Rita’s terrifyingly rapid intensification in the Gulf.

Meanwhile, I’m done with Seattle. Ravenna Third Place Books was, indeed, a good “third place”: After my talk, I hung out there and did some research and writing. One of the great highlights of the event was finally getting to meet Dano, who has commented on this blog since, well, for longer than I can remember.

Tomorrow, meanwhile, I’m off to Portland for one last talk on this leg of the trip–at Reed College. This is going to be different from my bookstore talks: I’m using slides, and that means lots of different material. So come on out, you Portlanders….

Comments

  1. #1 coturnix
    September 17, 2006

    When I saw the title I was wondering how on Earth is Helene going to reach and devastate Seattle!?

    Pity my brother left Reed a couple of months ago – he taught there for 3-4 years, but finally for a tenure track position at Edmonton this year. If he was still there he would have come for sure to your talk.

  2. #2 Nick (Matzke)
    September 17, 2006

    That was my first thought also — what disaster has the might Mooney called down upon The Foggy City?

  3. #3 Chris Mooney
    September 18, 2006

    Sorry, folks, changed the title slightly so it should no longer give this misleading impression. Seattle is extremely safe from hurricanes–and thank goodness, because there’s a ton of property next to water up here.

  4. #4 Davis
    September 18, 2006

    Ahh, that was Dano you were talking to? It’s so strange to have a face to associate with a name.

  5. #5 mappyb
    September 18, 2006

    Love the hurricane posts! Maybe see you/meet you on Friday night?

  6. #6 Chris Mooney
    September 18, 2006

    Update: Helene may become our first Cat 4….

    To mappyb, sure, come on out….

  7. #7 Dano
    September 18, 2006

    The pleasure was all mine, Chris, while watching you convey this information in a way that is engaging and accessible. Keep it up, sir!

    Groups or individuals don’t take action until: 1) they perceive a threat, then something needs to 2) galvanize them to action. Your book and blog is certainly helping on the galvanization part, and the good questions in the audience
    certainly indicates that folks understand there’s a problem.

    BTW – perhaps Mr Doherty (and others here too) has some insight on how a ‘public science advisor’ track can be created and what a curriculum might be; certainly my experience at UW was that the communications portion is not addressed…

    Best,

    D

  8. #8 Brad Hudson
    September 18, 2006

    Thanks again for your Third Place Books appearance, Chris. I like your additional emphasis on action. I found myself less frustrated and a little more empowered.

    One question: do you think that Scienceblogs can be an effective tool for communication between scientists and other folks?

  9. #9 Angela
    September 18, 2006

    I also enjoyed the emphasis on action, but found myself a bit disappointed that many of the actions seemed targeted for folks in legislation or were actions that were beyond my immediate control. Perhaps I missed the message?

  10. #10 Davis
    September 18, 2006

    BTW – perhaps Mr Doherty (and others here too) has some insight on how a ‘public science advisor’ track can be created and what a curriculum might be; certainly my experience at UW was that the communications portion is not addressed…

    I don’t feel I have any special expertise or insight on such an idea, though I do think it an excellent idea. And I agree with the sentiment regarding UW.

    Actually, my undergraduate university serves as a lesson in the importance of communication. I went to the University of Rochester, which very nearly eliminated its math department back in 1995 (engineering was going to take over the ‘important’ math classes). Mathematicians were absolutely shocked — they always thought their value was obvious. In the end it was the public outcry from all areas of science, highlighting the importance of math, which saved the department. Afterward, the department vastly improved its ties to the university and the community.

    I worry that, someday, science as a whole will end up in a similar position unless we squelch the hubristic view that its value is obvious. Good communicators are definitely essential.

  11. #11 Chris Mooney
    September 19, 2006

    Thanks, folks. Some additional points:

    * Yeah ScienceBlogs is doing a lot for science communication, but my perception is that it’s more in the realm of countering nonsense than reaching the other side of the aisle. This site is very popular, but I don’t think we are winning a lot of converts among the folks that I target as being part of the Republican base and part of the “war on science.”

    * Re the “action” message: Only 2 of the solutions were legislative: scientific integrity legislation and strengthinging institutionalized science advice to govt. In terms of reforming the media, teaching scientists how to speak to the public and fight back, and opposing anti-science politicians, individuals can get involved in all of these pursuits. I probably should have added that it’s also important to support groups that are fighting back against the war on science, like the National Center for Science Education.

  12. #12 Dano
    September 19, 2006

    I’d also add individuals can take actions such as: demanding decent reporting from your paper (quit the he-said/false balance stuff), writing your legislator and demanding their staffers include some sort of science panel for certain decision-making, focusing on one issue and learning who is obfuscating/astroturfing the public debate & countering their objections.

    Best,

    D