Friday, February 20, 2009

The token Shark Expert

You have to hand it to George, he always comes up with the answers.

Last year, he managed to link some Shark attacks in Mexico to the La Niña. Did anything useful eventuate from his subsequent fact-finding trip to the region, apart from free tickets and a vacation? Did anybody see a paper outlining his thus acquired insights?

This time, he's linking a drop in Shark attacks in 2008 to the economic downturn.
  • is that because historically, the majority of victims have been tourists and not local surfers, swimmers and spearos?
  • is that because the residents of, say, Florida, California, SA and Oz who couldn't afford a holiday didn't use their own beaches but locked themselves into their homes instead? In utter frustration?
  • and when, exactly, did the economic downturn explode? Maybe very much at the end of last year, i.e. kinda late for having a noticeable effect on the statistics? But before the recent events in recession-plagued Oz?
Well, to his credit, he then manages to observe that there might be a lot less Sharks around - but then, why predict an increase in attacks in the long term?
Because there will be more Sharks? I wish!

Collecting Shark attack data may be related to Ichthyology - or not.
But it certainly doesn't qualify anybody to go dabbling in Meteorology, Sociology and Economics - that is, unless interviewed in a Discovery Channel special where obviously anything goes and bloviating is being elevated to an Art.

Or is this the new direction of Academia, to reach out to the masses by postulating ludicrous Correlations based on completely inadequate Sample Sizes and nonexistent Hypotheses Tests?
Remember the Scientific Method?

As Gaius Plinius Secundus said nearly 2000 years ago: sutor ne supra crepidam!

And: did you notice the statistics from Florida? Where they did ban Fish feeding in 2002?
Will somebody please start asking the question what may be attracting the Sharks to the beaches?
Yes, I know, I'm repeating myself.

1 comment:

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