How accurate are those calorie counters on exercise equipment?

As an addendum to all these weight-loss threads, I am curious as to how accurate, exactly, these calorie counters on exercise bikes and treadmills are. I tend to ride my particular bike (an Aeropro model) at a fairly high torque setting (level 15 out of 32, which my WAG estimates as simulating a shallow rise), at which rate I will burn almost exactly 100 calories per mile. If I crank it up to level 32, I more or less triple the calorie burn rate. Is there hard science behind these numbers, or did someone make their own WAG when designing the software?

I’ve been told by trainers at the gym that ‘at best’ their accuracy isn’t great, something like +/- 20%, but for most of us that’s close enough. If they ask you for your weight and age that probably improves the accuracy somewhat.

I assume the ones they use in the doctor’s office are more accurate since they are monitoring your bodily functions, such as heart rate and respiration rate, at the same time.

Someone will come along soon with a cite… but my google-fu doesn’t seem to be working tonight…