This Sea Ice Graph Has Turned Twitter into a Scientific Battleground

It's always fascinating when scientists, mathematicians and other experts start disagreeing with each other on Twitter. It provides a rare insight into the kinds of debates and discussions which must happen all the time within the community, but aren't really ever publicised in any way (there wouldn't be much point in that). Couple that with some fairly upsetting data about the fate of our planet, and you've got a real nail-biter on your hands.

I speak of a graph which emerged on Twitter last week and sent much of the scientific quotient of the platform into complete disarray. The graph comes from the National Ice and Snow Data Centre in the States, and shows that sea ice levels this year have been on the lower average, and in recent months have dropped lower than any time since records began.

Scary stuff, at least until it was argued by one expert that the sensor which recorded the 2016 data had broken, explaining the discrepancy. Phew, that's a relief, right? Well, another user was quick to point out that, in actual fact, the sensor had been broken, but was subsequently repaired about 5 months ago.

From there, arguments raged back and forth about the validity of the graph, its source, and its accuracy when compared against similar data from elsewhere in the world. Eventually, it was more or less confirmed that the graph is indeed real, but the debate didn't stop there.

The issue then morphed from questioning the validity of the graph, to questioning whether or not it was an appropriate way to represent the data. The benefit of this from the layman's perspective is that it helps to represent some of the nuances of scientific debate, and which statistics are worth paying attention to, versus the ones that should be called into question or just ignored outright.

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