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Thread: Trends in science

  1. #1 Trends in science 
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    I am new to this site - second post - and I am interested in climate change, among other things.

    This thread is not about climate change. It is about trends. One of the gripes that people have with climate change is that we are expected to believe in trends which do not run in straight lines.

    It seems to me that the champions of AGW enjoy the rare privilege of being right even when they are wrong. They can say that we are in for a mild winter, but it does not matter to them if we then have a bitterly cold winter, because they are still right. We are still on trend for a warmer climate because trends do not always run in straight lines.

    So here is a reasonable question for a sceptic. Why should I believe in trends which do not run in straight lines? Can anyone give me an example - from any scientific discipline - of a trend which does not run in a straight line? Also, can anyone give me an example of a trend which does run in a straight line?



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    Forum Masters Degree Implicate Order's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ultimatesceptic View Post
    Can anyone give me an example - from any scientific discipline - of a trend which does not run in a straight line?
    Growth in the number of bacteria in a petrie dish over time tends to follow an exponential growth pattern (non-linear) until the resources are consumed. I bacteria splits into 2 then 4 then 16 and so on and so forth.

    Quote Originally Posted by ultimatesceptic View Post
    Also, can anyone give me an example of a trend which does run in a straight line?
    Savings in a bank using simple interest shows a linear trend in growth of capital.


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    Forum Freshman Eldritch's Avatar
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    As I understand it, here are two reasons to believe in nonlinear trends (I will not give examples, because Implicate Order already did a good job of that):

    1: Very few trends in nature are linear, if there are any that exist at all. There is almost always up and down, fluctuation, and changes, but trends exist nonetheless.
    2: You should believe in nonlinear trends because they exist. They've been observed and are still being observed.
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    I work in geology and I never deal with data in "straight lines". Measuring magnetics for flood events shows peaks and valleys in our data plots. Sedimentation rates fluctuate. Geochem returns data that doesn't always correspond in neat ways.

    You want science to be neat and it rarely is. That isn't the failing of science, it's simply the way the world works.

    You also made the fatal mistake of comparing climate trends to yearly weather patterns. The overall temp trend is still up even if a winter is very cold.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  6. #5  
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    Thank you for those replies, but maybe the OP could have been a tad more precise.

    The petrie dish example does not follow a straight line, but it does follow a logical progression. I think it follows a curved line.

    The savings in a bank example surely belongs in the realm of mathematics. While we could argue interminably about whether or not mathematics is a science, it is fair to point out that mathematics deals with the absolute qualities of numbers, whereas I'm not sure that absolute qualities are found anywhere else in science.

    If data in geology does not go in straight line (or any identifiable lines), then can we truthfully talk of trends?

    Also, I do know the difference between climate and weather. My question is whether or not I should believe in a trend which does not follow any kind of recognisable pattern. I admit that I made a mistake referring to straight lines. I am also interested in curved lines and wavy lines, but not in random squiggles - if you see what I mean.
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