Outliers in Nature

A great comment from James Annan on the meta-issues about yesterday’s Nature paper on the possibility that the thermohaline circulation may be slowing:

Their(Nature’s) deliberate policy to select only the most “exciting” results, which are then picked up and amplified by the press, pretty much guarantees that the outliers are given a prominence that substantially overstates their true significance.


  1. I remember visiting the monkey house at the zoo when I eas a kid. I would wave at them and jump up and down, but nothing would get their attention. They just continued eating, sleeping, relieving themselves, grooming and having sex, although a few of the young ones did seem a bit more prone to glancing up to see what was happening outside the cage. After a while I wanted to start whacking the bars and throwing things just to see if I could get any kind of a rise out of them. So I don’t really blame the editors of Nature for reacting as they have to the difficult problem of getting the monkeys to pay attention.

  2. John and Steve,

    This comment by Martin Visbeck on the RealClimate post is well worth a read. As well as a pretty strong rebuttal of the Bryden paper (his criticisms seem valid to me) he also brings up the same problem of selective attention given to the “exciting” results.

  3. Pingback: jfleck at inkstain » Blog Archive » Nature and the Press

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