All posts by Aidan Nicholson

NIT 2019: Bracket, schedule, and scores

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It’s NIT season!

It’s mid-March, which means it’s time to get the 2019 NIT started. After the full 32-team field was announced following the larger NCAA Tournament announcement on Selection Sunday, we have a complete picture of who will be competing in the second-most prestigious college basketball tournament.

And we have all the information you need to know, from the rule changes here to the rest of the information in this article, including the format, stakes, bracket, schedule and updated scores throughout the tournament.

The format

A single-elimination tournament featuring a field of 32 teams, it’s structured similarly to the Big Dance itself. There are four quadrants of eight teams apiece, with the first three rounds taking place at campus sites before the semifinals and finals move to Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The stakes

While it’s not the NCAA Tournament, it’s the next-best thing. All 32 teams in the NIT field surely would have preferred a trip to the Big Dance, but in lieu of that, the NIT remains a tournament that teams fight for. They want to win it, and no amount of making of it will change that. It’s extra exposure and revenue for teams, and really, there are no losers here. Except the teams that lose. They’re losers. Sorry.

The bracket, schedule, and scores

ESPN has broadcast rights for the NIT, with coverage spread across its networks. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and live streaming via ESPN3 and WatchESPN will get you every game on the schedule.

Round 1

Tuesday, March 19

Campbell 69, UNC Greensboro 84
Lipscomb 89, Davidson81
Hofstra 78, NC State 84
Saint Francis (PA) 72, Indiana 89
Wright State 69, Clemson 75
San Diego 60, Memphis 74
Arkansas 84, Providence 72
South Dakota State 73, Texas 79
Loyola Chicago 61, Creighton 70
Dayton 73, Colorado 78

Wednesday, March 20

Harvard 71, Georgetown 68
Norfolk State 80, Alabama 79
Toledo 64, Xavier 78
Wichita State 76, Furman 70
Sam Houston State 69, TCU 82
Butler 76, Nebraska 80

Round 2

Friday, March 22

Creighton 79, Memphis 67

Saturday, March 23

Indiana 63, Arkanas 60
Lipscomb 86, UNC Greensboro 69

Sunday, March 24

Wichita State 63, Clemson 55
Xavier 76, Texas 78
Harvard 77, NC State 78
Nebraska 72, TCU 88

Monday, March 25

Norfolk State 60, Colorado 76

Round 3

March 26-27


April 2


April 4

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CIT 2019: Bracket, schedule, scores, and TV/live stream info

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CIT action is underway.

The Postseason Tournament isn’t as storied as say the NCAA Tournament or the NIT, but if you’re in for watching more college hoops, it’s got you covered. The 2019 edition of the CIT features some teams that had pretty decent seasons, even if they were not quiet good enough to make it to the Big Dance or the NIT.

Some of the headliners are Texas Southern, Kent State, Drake, FIU, and Texas State. Per the tournament’s website, The CIT has had more schools make their postseason debut (26) and schools win their first-ever postseason game (34) than all other tournaments combined since 2009, when the CIT was founded.

There is no set bracket for the CIT, which uses a dynamic schedule to pair opponents based on matchups and availability. Everything up to the semifinals will be streamed on the CIT’s website. Since there’s no set bracket, the second round won’t be set until after the first is completed.

TV and online streaming

You can stream all the action on the CIT’s website.

First Round

Monday, March 18

NJIT 92, Quinnipiac 81

Tuesday, March 19

Cornell 89, Robert Morris 98
IUPUI 73, Marshall 78

Wednesday, March 20

Texas Southern 95, New Orleans 89
Grambling 73, UT Rio Grande Valley 74
Presbyterian 73, Seattle 68
Green Bay 102, ETSU 94

Thursday, March 21

FAU 66, Charleston Southern 68
Saint Francis Brooklyn 72, Hampton 81
CSU Bakersfield 66, Cal State Fullerton 58
Kent State 77, UL Monroe 87

Friday, March 22

Southern Utah 80, Drake 73

Saturday, March 23

FIU 87, Texas State 81

Second Round

Sunday, March 24

Presbyterian 77, Robert Morris 70

Monday, March 25

Texas Southern 94, UT Rio Grande Valley 85
CSU Bakersfield 70, Southern Utah 67

Tuesday, March 26

Presbyterian vs. Marshall (Quarterfinal Game)
Charleston Southern vs. Hampton
FIU vs. Green Bay


Thursday, March 28

TBD vs. NJIT, 7 p.m.
TBD vs. UL Monroe, 8 p.m.


April 2


April 4

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CBI 2019: Bracket, schedule, scores, and TV/live stream info

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March Madness! All of the postseason tournaments!

You can’t swing a stick without hitting a postseason college basketball tournament these days, and that’s a good thing. The College Basketball Invitational, or CBI, begins on Tuesday and featured 16 teams who didn’t make it into or otherwise are not participating in the main NCAA Tournament or the NIT.

All of Fresno State, Bowling Green, Jacksonville State, San Francisco and BYU declined invitations to participate in the CBI this year. It’s worth noting that teams invited have to pay a $50,000 entrant fee before they’re added to the field of 16.

This year, said field contains multiple teams ranked in the top 100 in RPI by the NCAA, including No. 90 Utah Valley, No. 91 Southern Miss, No. 96 Grand Canyon and No. 99 South Florida.

Below you can find all the information you need to follow the action, and we’ll have updated results throughout the tournament.


The CBI is a 16-team tournament organized into four regional brackets of four teams. The teams that advance to the semifinals are reseeded, while the finals are a best-of-three series.


Brown Bears
Cal State Northridge Matadors
California Baptist Lancers
Central Michigan Chippewas
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
DePaul Blue Demons
Loyola Marymount Lions
Longwood Lancers
Grand Canyon Antelopes
Howard Bison
South Florida Bulls
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Stony Brook Seawolves
UAB Blazers
Utah Valley Wolverines
West Virginia Mountaineers

Bracket, schedule, and scores

Play begins on Tuesday and continues with the bulk of first-round matchups on Wednesday. The second round takes place on Monday, March 25, and the semifinals will take place on March 27 and 28, with the championship series taking place on April 1, 3 and, if necessary, 5.

ESPN has broadcast rights for the tournament, and will show the finals on ESPNU, with other select games available via ESPN+.

First Round: Tuesday, March 19

CSUN 84, Utah Valley 92

First Round: Wednesday, March 20

Grand Canyon 63, West Virginia 77
Howard 72, Coastal Carolina 81
Stony Brook 79, South Florida 82
Southern Miss 68, Longwood 90
UAB 78, Brown 83
Central Michigan 86, DePaul 100
Loyola Marymount 56, Cal Baptist 55

Second Round: Monday, March 25

Coastal Carolina 109, West Virginia 91
Utah Valley 57, South Florida 66
Longwood 89, DePaul 97
Brown 63, Loyola Marymount 81

Semifinals: March 27-28

Finals: April 1, 3, 5 (if necessary)

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What to expect at the NFL’s annual meeting this week

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Rule changes, draft hints, and what to do about Robert Kraft.

The NFL’s Annual League Meeting is the starting point for the rules that could change the game. Every March, NFL owners and coaches gather to discuss the season that was, the season that will be, and the potential tweaks that can make the game fairer and/or sand down any advantage the Patriots may have gleaned the year prior.

The meeting is the genesis of ideas like replay challenges (good), relaxed team celebration rules (good), the language that gave us catches that had to survive the ground (bad), and the language that kinda-sorta cleared that mess up (… OK). It serves as the jumping-off point for reforms that will earn hours of debate throughout the offseason before either working their way into the rulebook, or being tabled until the rules committee or one enterprising team decides to broach the subject at the Spring League Meeting in May.

But it’s not just a gathering to discuss the rulebook. The confluence of coaches and owners means plenty of juicy gossip will leak out of Phoenix. Last year we heard about everything from how much the Rams’ new stadium will cost to Baker Mayfield’s Pied Piper potential (hee HEE!) to Todd Bowles’ amazing defense of Christian Hackenberg.

This year’s meeting takes place March 24-27. Here’s what you need to know about the headlines that’ll be coming out of Arizona.

Be sure to check back for updates on the proposals that passed (or didn’t), the best one-liners, and what kind of casual wear the coaches are sporting.

What team news will break this year?

2019’s meetings got off to a slow start. By Monday, all we’d really heard out of Arizona was that the Jets were getting new uniforms and that the Dolphins could draft a quarterback in 2019 or 2020.


Mike Tomlin was also there talking about his Steelers team. And trying his best to avoid talking about former Steelers Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.

How many Hawaiian shirts will Andy Reid wear?

Every year, Andy Reid always shows up cosplaying as Tommy Bahama.

 Getty Images

FWIW, last year he was spotted wearing three different Hawaiian shirts. The tally so far? At least one — and it’s Chiefs themed!

Mike Vrabel is dressed more conservatively, but if he followed Reid’s lead and added a Detroit Tigers hat he’d have a pretty convincing Magnum PI costume going.

And yes, the annual coaches photo remains the best part of the entire week.

What about the 2019 NFL schedule?

We’re kicking off the season with a classic rivalry game and a replay of one of 2018’s best games. The Packers will host the Bears in an NFC North showdown to open 2019.

Last year saw Aaron Rodgers return from injury to lead Green Bay back from a 20-0 third quarter deficit in one of his many deflating comeback wins over the Bears. Will 2019 give us another entry on that list?

What’s the league going to do about Robert Kraft?

Kraft was charged with two counts of soliciting a prostitute in February and is set to appear in court to contest those charges March 28 — one day after the annual meeting wraps up. While he’s reportedly been offered a diversionary program that would allow him to expunge those counts in exchange for 100 hours of community service, participation in an educational program about the dangers of sex trafficking, and a reimbursement of court costs, Kraft appears dead-set on fighting the case instead.

While it seems like a no-win situation — Kraft was allegedly caught on camera inside the spa — Kraft’s refusal to accept a deal means he’s unwilling to admit he was likely to be found guilty at trial, a condition of the terms of the diversionary program. That may be related to the discipline he’ll no doubt receive from the league after his arrest. Being found not guilty would help his case as he faces a significant fine and suspension from Roger Goodell — who also played Kraft’s nemesis in the years-long Deflategate battle between the NFL and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Kraft will be busy this week:

He also did some prep work in advance of Sunday’s start, publishing a public apology while not admitting guilt in a statement posted Saturday.

Yet no matter what the outcome of this latest skirmish between Kraft and the NFL’s headquarters will be, it’s unlikely to be settled in Phoenix.

Replay will be the centerpiece of the meeting’s discussions

The biggest proposal revolves around expanding the use of instant replay, primarily in response to the pass interference no-call that cost the Saints a spot in Super Bowl 53. Interestingly enough, the rule changes up for debate this week wouldn’t grant the power to overturn no-calls like the Saints/Rams play that spurred the discussion.

Owners will debate whether or not to make penalties called on the field like interference, roughing the passer, and defenseless player fouls reviewable — a distinction that could extend the running time of games but also ensure a call doesn’t prematurely end a team’s season.

There are two proposals on the table. The first would add pass interference penalties to the list of reviewable calls. The second would also include pass interference, as well as other 15-yard personal fouls like roughing the passer. That only applies to calls the officials already made and not uncalled penalties such as in the NFC Championship Game.

If either is passed, the rule would only take effect for one year, giving the league the chance to review it next year.

“The goal is to correct clear officiating errors on impactful plays,” Troy Vincent, NFL’s executive vice president of football operations said in an interview in advance of Sunday’s meeting. “Our credibility is on the line.”

While Vincent and the league’s competition committee are receptive to change, some owners aren’t. The Steelers in particular came out against expanded replay in the run-up to the debate.

“First of all, I would not want to see the length of the game be expanded,” team president Art Rooney II said in an interview released Friday. “One other thing I’ll add to that is replay, at the end of the day, is another human being interpreting the play. While it can be helpful in a lot of cases, when you start talking about judgment calls — pass interference in particular — you’re still putting another human being in a spot of having to make that decision. You’re just never going to get it perfect, no matter how many people are looking at it.”

That echos comments made at the NFL Combine by Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who said that he’d like to see replay eliminated altogether. Gruden doesn’t have much company among his coaching brethren, however:

Expect a decision on replay, as well as other possible rule changes, to be reached on Tuesday.

What rules do teams want to change in 2019?

While those motions came from the competition committee, a pair of proposals from teams will also spark debate in Arizona.

Kansas City wants guaranteed possessions in overtime

A motion from the Chiefs aims to change overtime rules to ensure both teams possess the ball at least once in the extra period — a proposal that comes months after Kansas City didn’t get a chance to field its offense as the Patriots ran away with a 37-31 overtime win in the AFC title game.

Their rule would also eliminate overtime in the preseason and eliminate the overtime coin toss, instead allowing the team who won the game-opening toss to choose whether to receive the ball or defer.

The Broncos want an alternative to the onside kick

Another potential reform from the Broncos would follow the AAF’s lead and provide an alternative to the onside kick. With conversions at a historically low rate, Denver’s suggestion is to give teams the option to convert a de facto fourth-and-15 from their own 35-yard line immediately following a touchdown or field goal. If the scoring team can gain 15+ yards, they retain possession of the ball. If not, the defending team takes over wherever the ball is stopped.

Early signals suggest the competition committee is not seriously considering overtime reform.

They’re more optimistic about onside kick alternatives, though that’s unlikely to work its way into the rulebook this fall and could be the subject of debate for annual meetings to come.

What other proposals are on the table?

Here are all the rules up for discussion, per the NFL. In all, 16 playing rules, six bylaws, and two resolutions were proposed. (A third resolution from the Eagles, which would have required the Cowboys and Lions to play their Thanksgiving games on the road every other year, was withdrawn.)

They’re mostly unexciting tweaks, but they include:

  • Making 2018’s kickoff changes permanent — most notably moving a team’s starting position after a touchback up to the 25-yard line, ending the wedge formation in front of returners, and preventing players from getting a running start before the ball is kicked.
  • Extending “defenseless player” protections to players who get hit by blindside blocks.
  • Determining where teams can apply an opponent’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following a touchdown.
  • Automatically reviewing any turnover or scoring play that was negated by a penalty.
  • Automatically reviewing any fourth-down play spotted short of the line to gain.
  • Automatically reviewing any extra point or two-point conversion try.
  • Giving the league more autonomy to eject or disqualify players for non-football acts on the field.
  • Allowing teams to roster more players during the preseason.

To pass any of these proposals, 24 of the 32 teams need to approve the changes.

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6 best things about the 2019 version of the annual NFL coaches photo

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Bill Belichick actually showed up, Jay Gruden looks like he’s about to throw up, and Andy Reid is still the MVP.

The annual spring meeting for the NFL’s owners and coaches gives us rule changes, a few draft hints, and some other NFL minutiae. But most importantly, it gives us an awkward photo of the league’s coaches that is always missing Bill Belichick.


Top row (left to right): Jason Garrett, Zac Taylor, Mike Vrabel, Freddie Kitchens, Frank Reich, Ron Rivera, Matt Patricia, Anthony Lynn, Kyle Shanahan, Matt Nagy, Doug Pederson, Pat Shurmur
Bottom row (left to right): Doug Marrone, John Harbaugh, BELICHICK!, Mike Zimmer, Dan Quinn, Kliff Kingsbury, Sean McDermott, Andy Reid, Brian Flores, Bill O’Brien, Jon Gruden, Vic Fangio, Matt LaFleur, Jay Gruden

Holy crap, they got Bill Belichick!

Mike Tomlin, Adam Gase, Sean Payton, Bruce Arians, Pete Carroll, and Sean McVay are the six coaches who appear to have found their way around the class photo. (Gase probably didn’t want to get memed, while Payton is likely still beefing with the NFL.)

That’s not too unusual — Carroll, John Harbaugh, and Belichick were absent last year.

Belichick was missing in 2018, and also in 2017, and 2016 too.

They actually got him to show up in 2015, but he could only be bothered to put on flip flops for the shot.

This time he looks — dare I say — relatively spiffy:

He still showed up with sneakers, but so did plenty of other coaches. It is the offseason after all.

And in case you were wondering, no he’s not smiling. The sun was just in his eyes.

Andy Reid is still the coaches photo MVP

The undefeated king of the annual photo retained his title by again being the easiest person to spot by a mile. It’s not a coincidence that he’s front and center. The photographer knew who the money maker was:

Long live the king, who has apparently stepped up his casual wear with a Chiefs-branded Hawaiian shirt. Game changer.

Are the Grudens doing alright?

Both Jon Gruden and Jay Gruden look sick in the photo.

At least Jon is fighting through the pain. Jay looks like he’s about 0.3 seconds from hurling. Maybe that’s why Matt LaFleur is pulling his shoes back — he wants to keep them out of the splash zone.

Welcome, freshmen

Speaking of LaFleur, all the first-time NFL coaches were present. Browns HC Freddie Kitchens still looks like the coach that most represents his own fanbase:

Kliff Kingsbury, perhaps dreaming of Kyler Murray, is still handsome.

And Bengals coach Zac Taylor, who is almost a whole 36 years old, looks like a kid playing dressup.

We’ve got some outfit repeaters

Jason Garrett, Kyle Shanahan, Dan Quinn, and Pat Shurmur appear to have their designated picture day clothes, because they were all wearing the same exact thing in Orlando last year.

Did you think we wouldn’t notice, gentlemen?

01110000 01101000 01101111 01110100 01101111

Beep boop beep.

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Long in tooth Khune a plus for Darren Keet, says De Sa

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Bafana goalkeeper Darren Keet

Ex-Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Roger de Sa believes Darren Keet can challenge for Itumeleng Khune’s place in future as age is on his side.

Keet produced a magnificent performance in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Libya in an Africa Cup of Nations Group E tie. The result saw Bafana qualify for the AFCON tournament in Egypt during June and July.

Khune is out for the season with a shoulder injury and at this stage it appears unclear if he will be fit for the continental showpiece later this year.

De Sa, who made one appearance for South Africa against Zambia in 1993, handed Keet his professional debut for Bidvest Wits in 2008.

The 54-year-old told the Sowetan: “He was still at school when I signed him so I had to wait for him to complete his Matric in Cape Town, which was why we loaned him to Vasco da Gama.

“When he finally arrived at us it only took him a couple of months before he made his debut. His move to Belgium developed him a lot as a keeper and a person, and he came back with a lot more maturity.

“He has been a valuable part of that club [Wits], you can’t win anything without a good goalkeeper.

Itu is out injured for a while and he is getting a bit long in the tooth, so that maybe opens the door for the next one.

“You don’t know with injuries how long it will take a player to get back to full fitness and their best form, especially the older they get. It takes longer.

“Darren is not a flashy keeper, but he is very consistent and does the basics very well. He is probably the best in the country under the high ball and commands that penalty box.

“It will be a tough call [when Khune returns], but a lot will depend on the club form, you have to take that account.

“Darren is in pole position and he must hold onto that but he has also got other competition.

“Ronwen Williams has done well and is a very good goalkeeper, and there are others out there too. It is a good position for the country to be in.

“Darren did well, but we mustn’t go crazy over one performance, he must continue ruling the bac

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Sea Robbers versus Brazilians set for April Fools’ Day

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Orlando Pirates' top of the table clash against Mamelodi Sundowns
The Premiership have confirmed that Orlando Pirates’ top of the table clash against Mamelodi Sundowns has been moved from 27 April to 1 April.

Sundowns currently top the PSL standings on 43 points whereas the Sea Robbers are in third, a point behind Bidvest Wits in second.

The match will therefore be the first league encounter after the completion of the FIFA international break.

The PSL’s website indicates the schedule change and the clash will take place at Orlando Stadium on April Fools’ Day. Kickoff is from 19:30.

In addition, the game between Pirates and Black Leopards which was set for this coming Friday has been moved to 10 April.

However, the PSL has as yet to confirm the new date for the clash between the Brazilians and SuperSport United on 7 April.

Downs are taking on Egyptian giants Al Ahly in a CAF Champions League quarter-final that same weekend.

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Baxter explains game-plan used by victorious Bafana Bafana

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Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has explained he used five at the back to ensure defensive solidity in Sunday’s win over Libya.

Bafana defeated the Mediterranean Knights 2-1 in a Africa Cup of Nations Group E qualifier courtesy of a superb brace from Percy Tau.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Benali scored for the outfit from North Africa at the Stade Taieb Mhiri in Tunisia.

Tau opened the scoring before Benali leveled from the penalty spot. The diminutive former Mamelodi Sundowns star then produced another stunning strike as South Africa claimed the three points.

The result means the national team have advanced to the main AFCON competition which takes place in Egypt during June and July.

Baxter told reporters after the game: “We knew that we had to come here and play well. We had a game plan. [It was] Difficult to settle under the game plan because do you go flying in trying to get the winning goal or do you sit back?

“I went for a combination of both and the longer the game went the more I thought the players played well.

“I think the first 30 minutes it was with the crowd at their backs and a bit of nerves and anxiety from our part. We gave them a couple of balls that they should not really have got and they nearly got in. But I think after that the players were excellent.

“I thought the penalty was harsh and I thought the players showed incredible character to come back and get 2-1. We made a couple of substitions to help us in our defending.”

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Does Monsanto’s Roundup cause cancer? The law says yes, the science says maybe

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Law and science seek proof in similar ways, but at very different speeds Chinnapong/Shutterstock

A federal jury in California has unanimously decided that the weedkiller Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing the lymphoma of 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman, who had used Roundup on his property for many years. This is the second such verdict in less than eight months. In August 2018 another jury concluded that groundskeeper DeWayne Johnson developed cancer due to his exposure to Roundup, and ordered Monsanto, the manufacturer, to pay Johnson nearly US$300 million in damages.

In product liability cases like these, plaintiffs must prove that the product was the “specific cause” of the harm done. The law sets a very high bar, which may be unrealistic for harms such as a diagnosis of cancer. Nonetheless, two juries have now ruled against Roundup.

Monsanto’s lawyers insist that Roundup is safe and that the plaintiffs’ arguments in both cases were scientifically flawed. But jurors believed that they were shown enough evidence to meet the legal criteria for finding Roundup was the “specific cause” of cancer in both men.

As a result of these high-profile trials, Los Angeles County has halted use of Roundup by all of its departments until clearer evidence is available about its potential health and environmental effects.

Although “proof” has a similar primary meaning in science and law – a consensus of experts – how it is achieved is often quite different. Most importantly, in science there is no deadline for a discovery, whereas in law, timeliness is paramount. The conundrum is that a legal decision may be required for a potentially dangerous product on the market before the science has been settled.

DeWayne Johnson hugs one of his lawyers after hearing the verdict in his case against Monsanto in San Francisco on Aug. 10, 2018.
Josh Edelson/Pool Photo via AP

What is ‘proof’?

Proof is an elusive concept. Do we need proof that our glimpse of stripes in the jungle is a tiger before we run? Do we need proof that the jet engines are reliable before clearing a plane to take off for London with 300 passengers on board?

Can proof ever be absolute, or is it inherently a statement of probabilities?

Scientists use proof to advance our understanding of nature. Science assumes that there is an objective reality underlying all of nature, which we can eventually understand. Nature has no moral compass: It is neither good nor bad – it simply is. Scientists are human, so they experience joy or disappointment depending on the outcome of an experiment, but those emotions do not alter the truths of nature.

In contrast, lawyers use proof to find justice for people. Law is built on the premise that there are widely accepted codes of human behavior, which should be rectified when they are violated. Ideally, justice under the law is a highly moral endeavor with fairness at its core.

Proof in science

Scientists vigorously argue about whether an experiment proves a new detail in the vast tapestry of nature. Most scientists require that a new experimental finding is reproducible, statistically significant and plausible within the context of experiments that came before it.

But often conventional wisdom, based on what had been proven in the past, is wrong.

For example, until the 1980s medical wisdom said the cause of stomach ulcers was too much acid secretion. Therefore, young doctors learned in medical school to treat ulcers with antacids, milk and a bland diet. Then in 1983 a couple of troublemaking Australians named Robin Warren and Barry Marshall suggested that a bacterium actually caused ulcers.

Of course, this was not believed to be possible because no bacterium could survive in the highly acidic environment of the stomach. Marshall and Warren were widely ridiculed after their article appeared, and heckled at conferences where they presented the idea. However, other scientists became interested and started to investigate the alternative theory.

New evidence accumulated over the next decade and ultimately proved that Marshall and Warren were right. They received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2005. Today the bacterium, H. pylori, is believed not only to cause ulcers but also most stomach cancers worldwide.

Proof in law

To reveal the facts of a legal dispute, lawyers engage in adversarial argument. Attorneys for each side argue from their client’s perspective, without claiming to be objective. In an ideal world, with diligent and honest attorneys on both sides, justice should prevail. Often, however, a case is not ideal.

In some product liability lawsuits it can be perfectly clear that a faulty product, such as the rupture-prone Takata airbags that car manufacturers were forced to recall several years ago, caused a plaintiff’s injury. However, as I wrote in connection with the first Roundup lawsuit, this is close to impossible to prove in cancer cases.

Product liability is the area of law in which consumers can bring claims against manufacturers and sellers for products that injure people.

DeWayne Johnson’s lawsuit against Monsanto turned on a 2015 scientific assessment from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency of the World Health Organization, classifying glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – as a “2A: probable human carcinogen.” However, this finding does not mean that Roundup “probably” caused Johnson’s lymphoma.

The European Food Safety Authority, an equally authoritative deliberative body, also assessed glyphosate, concluding that it was unlikely to pose a cancer risk and actual exposure levels did not represent a public health concern. This study considered much of the same evidence as the International Agency for Research on Cancer, but interpreted it differently.

Nonetheless, the jury concluded that Roundup had caused Johnson’s cancer and awarded $289 million in damages, which was reduced to $80 million on appeal. Clearly, in their view, there was sufficient “proof” for the case against Roundup.

Different kinds of expertise

In science, proof can only be defined as a consensus of experts who agree that the facts overwhelmingly support a specific conclusion. In law the jury plays that role, with jurors expected to become experts in the case.

This means, of course, that what has been proven in science or in law can be unproven with new evidence or new experts.

Many big questions in physics, geology and biology have taken centuries to answer, and scientists constantly re-evaluate those answers in light of new evidence. For example, in the 1930s physicists widely agreed that there were three fundamental particles: electrons, protons and neutrons. Today the standard model of physics holds that there are at least a dozen elementary particles, with many others hypothesized but not yet proven to exist.

Legal judgments have much more immediate impacts – sometimes life or death. Justice delayed is justice denied, and jurors must agree on a final proof to deliver a verdict. But as history has painfully taught us, a rush to judgment can yield the opposite of equity. Glyphosate provides many benefits, which must be weighed against the potential for harm.

Bayer, Monsanto’s parent company, faces potentially enormous liability from thousands of lawsuits claiming Roundup gave plaintiffs cancer.

So, what is a juror in the next Roundup trial to do? As I have argued previously, “specific causation” for cancer can almost never be proved.

However, that does not mean that a plaintiff has no case. If the formal standard in law were changed to “probability of causation” as used by the Centers for Disease Control for occupational cancers, then a jury could find a product guilty of substantially increasing the risk, and make an award for the plaintiff, potentially a large one. In my view, if this were the standard, future rulings like the two we have already seen would align law and science on this issue more closely.

The Conversation

Richard G. “Bugs” Stevens does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Skip this chore: Cleaning your air conditioner condenser probably won’t make it work better

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Scratch this off your to-do list. Florence Yuill, CC BY-ND

I asked my neighbor who hoses off his air conditioner condenser every spring why he does it. “Because my dad always told me I had to,” he said.

Conventional wisdom like what my neighbor’s dad imparted may always seem right. But through my HVAC scholarship – the study of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems – I’ve learned that this particular presumption is probably wrong.

Dirty equipment

The equipment I’m talking about washing is the outdoor part of central air-conditioning systems that move heat from homes into the outdoors.

Technically known as condenser coils, they are usually about the size of a large garbage can but they can be as small as a bucket or as big as a refrigerator. Some are protected by louvered grilles but most are exposed to the elements. Their metal fins help transfer heat to the air. They contain tubes that carry the hot refrigerant, which gives off heat as it condenses.

Stuff like windblown seeds, dust and grass clippings tends to collect on the coil surface. Most homeowners and HVAC companies envision that this untidy-looking stuff acts like an insulating blanket, slowing down the passage of heat from inside to outside. Any debris that accumulates would also interfere with airflow over the coil, further restricting the system’s ability to expel heat.

The nitty-gritty

Mehdi Mehrabi, an architectural engineering graduate student, and I set out to learn the extent to which dirty residential air conditioners are less efficient than clean ones. What we found astonished us – and many of the other experts in this field.

Previous work on this question simulated outdoor dirt with synthetic materials in a laboratory setting, or used reduced airflow as a proxy for the effects of dirty coils. Although it’s necessary to carefully to control operating conditions, we took a novel approach: collecting condensers that had gotten dirty through ordinary residential use, and bringing them to the lab for study with a special test apparatus.

This meant that they were coated in real-world dust and other crud in everyday amounts. We tested the dirty air conditioners, then washed them thoroughly with a garden hose and tested again. We also used a commercial coil cleaning fluid and tested them for a third time.

Close-up of 7 grams of dirt per square foot on an air conditioner condenser and that same condenser after it’s cleaned.
Mehdi Mehrabi, CC BY-SA

Surprisingly, we found that dirty air conditioner condensers often perform better than clean ones. The change in condenser coil heat transfer performance ranged from a 7 percent increase to a 7 percent decrease for the coils we tested. The average change was … none at all.

Close-up of 17 grams of dirt per square foot on an air conditioner condenser and that same condenser after it’s cleaned.
Mehdi Mehrabi, CC BY-SA

The coil that registered a 7 percent improvement after getting cleaned up looked quite dirty, with 7 grams of dirt per square foot of coil surface area. But the coil that performed 7 percent worse was even dirtier, with 17 grams of dirt per square foot. It was so filthy, in fact, that it was nearly impossible to see the metal fins before we gave it a wash. Most of the condenser coils we tested in the lab were cleaner than both of those.

No insulating blanket

To see how the equipment’s performance could improve by getting dirty, we did further testing.

That next round of study suggested that the accumulated dirt stirs up the air passing over the condenser coils. Technically called “turbulence,” these little gusts can transfer heat away from the coil better. For some coil designs, this can cause the equipment to perform better when it’s dirty than when it’s clean. This is true even when the dirt has reduced the airflow rate.

If your home has one of these things, you are probably wondering whether you should you wash your own condenser. Here’s what you should know.

The author, doing a chore that his own research has found to be pointless.
Florence Yuill, CC BY-SA

Cleaning your air conditioner might make it run better. It might make it run worse. But it probably won’t make any difference. I now personally believe in skipping this task, unless the coil is so dirty that it’s hard to see the metal fins. Although, if it will make you feel better, go ahead and hose it down. To be honest, that’s what I plan to do from now on.

Letting go of deep-seated beliefs of any kind is hard, whether it’s that dieting makes you lose weight in the long run – something recent studies do not support – or if this particular home maintenance ritual is justified. As news of our findings spreads, I’m bracing for some unpleasant responses from people who might lose out if the condenser-cleaning business dries up and others who simply refuse to accept that there was no basis for the conventional wisdom on this question.

The Conversation

David Yuill received funding from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers to conduct this study, under Research Project 1705. He is affiliated with ASHRAE.

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