Logical Gal – it must be true if 97% of scientists agree

9 Jun

Truth by consensus!

97 % of scientists

Now there’s a stable foundation for science and public policy!

When someone making an assertion offers as support the fact that the majority of experts back his view, then you know the arguer has no argument.

People resort to fallacies (false reasoning) for one or more of the following  reasons:

  • they haven’t thought through a proper defense of their point of view
  • they KNOW they don’t have any legitimate reasons resilient enough to respond to critique
  • they are lazy and rather just bash their opponent by appealing to a variation of that old song lyric ‘50 million Frenchmen can’t be wrong‘!

50 million frenchmen

But science has always progressed by being dragged forward by a few brave souls going against the ‘party line’.

So what is driving the forceful and almost shrill proclamations that the ‘debate is over’?

Like so much in life, I think it’s……… the money.

In today’s local Sunday paper, hope for new jobs permeated an unabashedly eager article about Asheville positioning itself to sell tech solutions to our ‘climate problem’ Article link is here.   This was in the same issue that gave editorial space to syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts who mockingly derided climate deniers who should do the math and get on board. See if you can spot his use of Mob Appeal cum Appeal to Authority fallacies

What frightens me is that the ‘average Joe or Jane’ DOESN’T take the time to read, study and think through issues.  And to be honest, one has to pick and choose just which topics one is going to investigate.  There was a time when the Fourth Estate, the ‘soi-disant’ independent media, played that role in society, keeping the other three estates in check (traditionally – the nobility, the clergy and the commoners….perhaps in 21st century America – the government, business and the little people).

But today, a FIFTH ESTATE has arisen – us, the counter-cultural voice of independent media, bloggers and certain talk-show hosts.

For more information click here

We CAN make a difference, one step at a time.  My small piece in that unorganized but powerful force is to encourage average Joes and Janes to practice clear thinking.  Acquiring logic is a useful tool to that end!

Question:  Which issue is number one for you?  the one that is worth your time and concentrated energy

  • to study
  • to be able to articulate both sides
  • to come down on one side and be prepared to give a defense



6 Responses to “Logical Gal – it must be true if 97% of scientists agree”

  1. Michael Fryda July 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    As a scientist, I could argue that this post is a little bit of no true scotsman, personal incredulity, strawman, the fallacy fallacy, genetic, and the ecological fallacy all wrapped up into one neat little package. Every one of these fallacies has been used to attack the scientific process recently. Science is definitely not without assumption. But to claim that we don’t have evidence for human-caused global climate change is a simple matter of looking at the data with a trained eye. I won’t say that some people won’t profit from climate change. You can profit from anything. But to say that climate change is untrue because someone could profit from it is equal parts red herring and cherry picking.

    • Maria July 8, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

      Hi Michael – Thanks for your thoughts. I don’t deny that there is evidence of global warming. But to say that human activity is causative and therefore we need to make governmental policy decisions to curb that activity is an over-reaction. Yes, I want to steward the environment and we should regulate gratuitous greedy use of our global resources. But there are many unknowns. Maybe we’re in a larger cycle of heating and cooling and human activity is correlative? There’s too much hate-filled and at times glee-filled emotion on the part of climate change proponents to be explained totally by concerned citizens for their planet

      Good point, however, to push back when I wrote that just because someone can profit from a problem, that there is NOT a problem. Thank you!

      • klecser July 8, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

        If you think there are “too many unknowns”, I’d suggest that you start, here: http://climate.nasa.gov/, especially if you consider yourself to be on the side of logic. You can’t argue with raw data. Logic is pointless without observations to work with. If you don’t trust science, our best collection and interpretation of evidence, then there isn’t much else to trust for solving humanity’s problems.

        Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there are scientist’s whose message is glee- and hate-filled. They should not be representing the discipline. But to dismiss them on that fact alone…isn’t that, in of itself, ad hominem?

        I’ll leave you with some appeal to authority of my own: what does it say about your argument that you’ll denounce science, a discipline based upon a strict set of logical rules, that granted is run by imperfect humans, yet you won’t even give trained professionals the benefit of the doubt? I’ll appeal to your emotion on that, because if that is your case, you better never hire any professional (plumber, electrician, nurse, doctor, lawyer, architect) to do anything for you. It sound to me that if you use the sane logical rules in your argument above, you shouldn’t trust any of them. You’ll be helped by someone you can’t respect and who you may never believe will give you quality work.

      • Maria July 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

        I’m not disputing the data, but it’s how we frame data, what context we set it in and then what we decide to do with the data that is most important. There are some people whose agenda is anti-capital and will jump on anything they can to shift policy in the direction they think is best. I’m married to a systems engineer and I’ve absorbed by osmosis the point of view that it’s not wise to tinker with one point and ignore the effect those changes might have on the system.
        You’re brushing with a broad stroke to suggest I’m anti-science. To make a critical comment about scientists is NOT to ‘denounce’ science.

      • klecser July 9, 2014 at 10:29 am #

        It is very easy to misrepresent science in the media. My experience is that media rarely intend to misrepresent science, but due to lack of training it is inevitable. That, of course, doesn’t make the science poor, but it does allow individuals to pervert media headlines into something they are not.

  2. Maria July 9, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    Most of us fall prey to misrepresenting others (and God!) because we haven’t taken the time to understand thoroughly. I plead guilty!

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