Look out UDaCity and UDeMy. There’s a new hotshot university on the block and it’s coming to take your crown as the king of non-university universities, Prager University. PU is the the fakiest fake university since Fake U in Fake City, Fake State, Fake Country. You thought giving out nanodegrees for $3000 in non real subjects like machine learning and AI could never be topped, but PU one upped you by offering no degrees in no subjects. Snap!
I kid of course, as a double nanodegree holder in both ML and AI from UDaCity and UDeMy I have nothing but respect for my old alma maters (the fightin Udes!). Both degrees still hang in their place of high honor, the men’s bathroom of the local Arby’s where I used to work. I will never forget the day my old manager Mr. Stillwater agreed to the installation. I had just been offered my first of many new jobs as a machine learning engineer thanks to my newly earned nanodegree in the subject area. As I turned in my resignation and told him that I was a machine learning engineer now, he looked at me quizzically, smiled, and said “machine learning eh, you think a machine could learn to suck my dick?” then laughed himself blue in the face. After he had regained his composure, he reluctantly allowed me the use of one wall above urinal #2 for a period of 1 year so I might display my hard earned nanodegrees.
See link below for more with more links within.
All* Of Your Online University Questions Answered — Most With Links!
*(Five) Part V in The Series — FAQs About The Future
Enough about me, lets talk about you, PU. I recently received an email from my dad about one of his favorite topics, climate change. My dad is a retired engineer, a very smart man and although he has been corrupted by the Fox News/Rushbo/Hannity rightwing nut’o sphere he still retains some measure of sanity due to his scientific training. Because of this usually the things that he sends me have some measure of legitimacy and/or merit, though of course always some hidden right wing message or agenda. In this case he had forwarded me an email containing a video about climate change from Prager University.
Immediately I thought, if the world renown Prager University thinks this is an important and legitimate video it must be. When I think climate science, the first place I turn to for unbiased, scientifically sound, and reliable information is a 501(c)3 non-profit conservative digital media organization founded in 2009 by conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager. Unlike your typical university (all others), PU is not an academic institution and does not offer certifications or diplomas. Prager created PragerU in order to present his conservative views and to offset what he regards as the undermining of college education by the left. As worthy or slimy as that goal may be (depending on your political leanings), it did not fill me with a warm and fuzzy feeling as to the legitimacy of any materials that come via his “university”.
Seriously, I could not bring myself to watch the video given its disreputable source so I fired off a quick reply to dad with some of my patented humorous wit to soften the blow of my complete rejection of his views, deleted the email, and headed straight here to Medium to talk about it. One of the things my dad mentioned in his note to me was the supposed problem of “scale abuse” in climate science. This particular crime against science and logic occurs fairly regularly across many different fields, and goes by many different names. Basically scale abuse happens when data/observation taken from very short time spans in the past is used to extrapolate conclusions or even generate hypotheses about phenomena (like climate) that occur and change over much longer time spans, in the future. In the case of climate science the accusation is that climate scientists models must be wrong because they only have access to a few hundred years at most of weather/climate data and yet they theorize and draw conclusions about the climate today with only that limited data set.
Scale abuse can be a big problem for any time series analysis. I am quite certain legitimate climate scientists are very aware of this issue and do what they can to deal with it. When making predictions about the future we will always be limited in time to those that we some access to via direct observation/data or indirect observation (e.g. rocks from ancient geologic eras we analyze). For climate we only have direct observational data for very limited time window. However, we can analyze geologic deposits and surmise climate based on a host of attributes and using a wide range of physical and chemical techniques including for example, isotopic analysis. Of course this is not nearly as reliable as direct observation which is why climate models have such high uncertainty (CVs and SDs on the probabilities are really high). That said the data is worrisome (for many areas of the globe, hopeful and encouraging for others) and suggests an overall warming trend, or at the very least, an overall trend toward more rapid cycling between warmer and cooler periods (which can be just as dangerous or more so) no matter where it falls within the bounds of the uncertainty.