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Talkin bout the Skeptical Science phone apps

Posted on 7 August 2010 by John Cook

Just a few months ago, we brought out a Skeptical Science app for Nokia phones, thanks to Jean-Francois Barsoum who used the Ovi App Wizard. Nokia have just announced that our app is one of the 10 finalists in the Calling All Innovators competition. The winner is the app that gets the most downloads by August 31 so if you're a Nokia user, be sure to download the Nokia app (and let your Nokia friends know about it).

While we're on the subject of apps, I've just published an article in the UK Guardian today - talking about the iPhone, Nokia and Android apps, the results I've received from iPhone reports over the past 6 months and also commenting on the new skeptic iPhone app, Our Climate. Knowing the vigorous discussion that happens on the Guardian website, I'd love to keep up with the comments but it's pushing 1:30am here in Australia so I'm just going to have to wake up to the comment storm in the morning.

Lastly, Joe Romm just published a gracious post about our Android app which is much appreciated. Reading through the comments, I've just learnt that apparently you can install the iPhone app by scanning some image with your phone - first I've ever heard of this.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 12:

  1. ROFL the title of your article is hilarious! XD Nice one.
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  2. Nokia phones? What about other Symbian phones? They are not all Nokia phones, you know.

    And as for buying by scanning, that is on both Android and iPhone now. Has been for a while, too.
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  3. Buying by scanning? That's nothing; I've been buying by impulse for years now!
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  4. Just read the Guardian article. Very nice. You highlight the most obvious contrarian tactic - focus on one thing, and draw conclusions that don't follow.
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  5. Well, John, you've made it into the rough and tumble of WUWT via your Guardian Post (if you haven't featured there already). Congrats for the Guardian - you might have mixed feelings about the former but to be fair, Anthony calls you 'a generally reasonable Aussie.'

    He feels his apps are doing better than your apps (now, he would say that, wouldn't he) and thanks you for the boost you're giving him.

    He does defend you against one of his more feral posters saying:

    REPLY: I don’t think he’s a ‘dimwit’ by any means, and it’s really not a label you should be using. He’s just not very good at understanding mass media and communications, like most scientists. – Anthony

    It's a bit of backhanded compliment - your (non-carbon) footprint's getting bigger and your site's become a serious contender in the blogosphere.

    As it very deservedly should be (and has been for some time).
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    Response: Interesting comments thread on WUWT (for the record, the Guardian asked me to write the article, I didn't approach them) and decent of Anthony Watts to defend me. I also think one of the comments there by an enigmatic "HR" might be our own HumanityRules. If I ever do a testimonials page on Skeptical Science, I'll be sure to include:

    "I don't think he's a dimwit"
    Anthony Watts
  6. I guess you'd have to ask HumanityRules but the thought did cross my mind ;-)
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  7. PS: I must confess when I saw the WUWT post that I didn't read it in detail and so I missed the suggestion that you'd turned to the Guardian for help.

    So in this case, the mountain in fact came to Mohammed (or would Matthew 21: 21 be the more appropriate quote?)

    Either way, an outbreak of decency is always a good result.
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  8. Is anyone aware of any independant analysis of the accuracy (or more likely otherwise) of the Watts App?

    At the moment the massed hoards (duo) of watts staffers seem intent on guiding the debate on the Guardian piece towards a sales drive marketing opportunity for their app.

    It would be nice to see a quality debunking on a 10 point basis to their Top 10 points. It just gets to be very tedious watching them lead some of the more sober Guardian posters on a not so merry dance?
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  9. The iPhone app is great, though I've noticed that there are some pretty slick denialist apps making it into the app store (Apple demonstrated a lack of good judgement in showing the "Our Climate" app in the Featured apps).

    One feature I would like to emphatically request would be something along the lines of a quiz that delved from the top level of your one-line rebuttal list into more detail with later stages. I've noticed that it's hard for regular people who have really examined the scientific basis on AGW to recall counter arguments in conversation because they are quite often trying to formulate an explanation rather than attain a rhetorical win. I feel like a sort of multiple choice test within the app would really add a lot of value, something people could use to become familiar with the vast array of denial arguments and how they relate to the established research so they aren't surprised and shut down when someone brings out a specious yet convincing-sounding talking point.

    In a water cooler debate, it's really not going to convince anyone if you have to go back to the computer or check your app to make a response. People who care about this issue should have a certain level of retention of the facts. Hopefully that would lead to greater confidence in their ability to speak what they know to be true and bring about more debate without science based arguments being derailed by esoteric pinpricking.

    Great job on the site and the apps!
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  10. Semperviren's idea of a quiz is terrific. Could be constantly refreshed by randomly picking ten questions.
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  11. Also wanted to share this review of the iPhone app in Apple's app store. Shows what kind of tactics the science based approach has to confront:

    ------

    Superseded by Our Climate
    (3 out of 5 stars)
    by James Mann Schneider - Version 1.1.0 - Aug 6, 2010

    It was a relatively good idea to bring the climate change arguments to an iPhone. But this particular app is extremely buggy, crashes all the time, and contains numerous mistakes.

    IT professionals and top climate scientists have now improved John Cook's project and developed a much better application called "Our Climate" which contains lots of quizzes, charts, polls, besides dozens of concise articles about all aspects of the climate and its drivers.

    --------

    Simply incredible and deeply revealing about the ethics of denialism. For those not familiar with it, "Our Climate" is prominently featured on wattsupwiththat.com
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  12. Speaking of which. John, you may have noticed a commenter at the Guardian going by the nickname of PaulInOz1 who was highly critical of you and your article. Turns out he's Paul Ostergaard of Aeris Systems, the developer of Our Climate. There's another "contrarian" called PaulInOz at Guardian CiF who's been there for a while now, so it's not sure if he's the same guy, but PaulInOz1 only started posting on August 7th. Pretty low if you ask me. He's been banging heads with some of us (in one he kept repeating "Shame on you" at me), and one in particular called onthefence. Search through the Our Climate reviews at the Apple store and you'll find a review by an "on the fence" singing the praises of Our Climate.

    OurClimategate, as far as I'm concerened.
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