The truth is out there – so how do you debunk a myth?

Feb 06, 2014 by John Cook, The Conversation
The truth is out there. Credit: Flickr/J

Debunking myths requires an understanding of the psychological research into misinformation. But getting your refutation out in front of lots of eyeballs is a whole other matter.

Here, I look at two contrasting case studies in debunking climate myths.

If you don't do it right, you run the risk of actually reinforcing the myth. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to avoid any potential backfire effects.

Facts vs myths

First and foremost, you need to emphasise the key facts you wish to communicate rather than the myth. Otherwise, you risk making people more familiar with the myth than with the correct facts.

That doesn't mean avoid mentioning the myth altogether. You have to activate it in people's minds before they can label it as wrong.

Secondly, you need to replace the myth with an alternate narrative. This is usually an explanation of why the myth is wrong or how it came about. Essentially, debunking is creating a gap in people's minds (removing the myth) then filling that gap (with the correct explanation).

If you had to boil down all the into six words then it can be summed up as follows:

fight sticky ideas with stickier ideas.

Myths are persistent, stubborn and memorable. To dislodge a myth, you need to counter it with an even more compelling, memorable fact.

The skeptical plan

With that principle in mind, the Skeptical Science team set out to debunk two climate myths in 2013. We were guided by cognitive psychology as we constructed our rebuttals.

In both cases, we sought a different path to our usual social media practice of immediate blogging, tweeting and Facebook and looked for something that would have a long-term impact.

Case Study 1: Communicating the on climate change

We decided to tackle arguably the most destructive climate myth of all, that there is no scientific consensus about human-caused .

This misconception has grave consequences for society. When the public think that scientists don't agree on human-caused global warming, they're less likely to support policies to mitigate climate change.

We decided to increase awareness of the scientific consensus with a three-pronged approach:

  1. scholarly research
  2. mainstream media coverage
  3. social media outreach.

The Skeptical Science team spent about a year doing the scholarly research - reading the abstracts of 12,000 climate papers published from 1991 to 2011. We identified around 4000 abstracts stating a position on human-caused global warming and among those papers, more than 97% endorsed the consensus.

The media message

Duty calls. Credit: xkcd.com

When our research was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters, the University of Queensland and the universities of my co-authors issued media releases describing our work.

The release was constructed with the psychology of misinformation in mind. The emphasis was on the key fact we wished to communicate: 97% agreement among relevant climate papers.

But we also activated the misconception by mentioning survey data finding low public perception of scientific agreement.

The result was media coverage all over the world, including many non-English speaking countries.

At the same time, we launched The Consensus Project website that explained the results of our paper with clear, simple animations. We released a series of shareable infographics, making it easy for people to share our results on social media.

Our goal was for the message of scientific consensus to push beyond people already engaged with the climate issue, and raise awareness among people who had no idea that there was 97% agreement among climate scientists.

Obama hears the message

We achieved this goal beyond our expectations when President Obama tweeted our research to 31-million followers.

Obama tweet on 97 per cent. Credit: Twitter

His tweet was retweeted over 2,500 times. Several weeks after the tweet, Obama gave a landmark speech on in which he acknowledged the 97% consensus.

This exercise taught us that while social media is the future, old media isn't dead yet. And perhaps the sum of the two are greater than their individual parts.

Case Study 2: Communicating our planet's heat build-up

The second myth we tackled was the mistaken belief that global warming has stopped. This myth has many variants, such as "global warming stopped 15, 16 or 17 years ago" (the time period varies) or "no statistically significant warming since 1998".

Typically, scientists respond to the "no warming" myth using statistical explanations that go over the heads of most people. How do you debunk this myth in a compelling, memorable way?

Global warming is a build up in heat. Greenhouse gases are trapping heat which is building up in our oceans, warming the land and air and melting ice. When scientists add up all the energy accumulating in our climate system, they find the heat build-up hasn't slowed since 1998.

The greenhouse effect continues to blaze away. It turns out the laws of physics didn't go on hiatus 16 years ago.

Creating a metaphor

Consensus on human caused global warming. Credit: Skeptical Science

To communicate this, we used a metaphor. We toyed with many metaphor ideas but found none able to conceptualise the heat build-up in a stickier manner more than this:

Since 1998, our planet has been building up heat at a rate of 4 Hiroshima A-bombs per second.

We released a website with an animated ticker widget to show how much heat our planet is building up each second. The widget, which can be freely embeded on other websites, also includes a number of other metrics such as the amount of energy in hurricane Sandy, an earthquake and a million lightning bolts.

Unlike traditional social media campaigns that flare brightly then quickly fade away, the widget steadily and incrementally increases the number of people it reaches.

Since it was released in November it has been embedded in a number of blogs. The figures continue to grow with latest showing it used by more than 80 blogs and viewed more than 2-million times.

We knew the Hiroshima metaphor would be controversial but several factors influenced our decision to use it. One was that distinguished climate scientist James Hansen had been using the metaphor for years.

Another was an article by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a prestigious journal founded in the 1950s to warn of the dangers of nuclear weapons. The Bulletin endorsed the use of the Hiroshima metaphor as a compelling way to communicate the reality of global warming.

But ultimately, the cognitive science told us this was the most compelling way to refute the "hiatus" myth.

As expected, the widget provoked a strong reaction, predominantly from those already dismissive of climate science (and keen to prop up the "global warming stopped in 1998" ).

A less explosive metaphor

I put the challenge out there to come up with a better metaphor to conceptualise the amount of heat that our planet is accumulating. No viable alternatives have come forward.

However, at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December, I proposed a tongue-in-cheek metaphor that I thought may get away with offending no one: kitten sneezes!

Two communication outreaches by Skeptical Science in 2013 took wildly different approaches but with the same goal. One adopted a top-down approach, attempting to reach the public through scholarly research and mainstream media. The other took a bottom-up approach, raising awareness through a widget embedded on a wide range of blogs.

Both were based on the psychological research into debunking. Both were conceived as slow burn communication, with both achieving long-term impact.

Explore further: Global warming: The conversation we need to have

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Global warming: The conversation we need to have

Jan 15, 2014

We all know the earth's climate is changing. The effects are inescapable no matter where we live. Here in New England, some changes are subtle (more humidity, consistently warmer nights), dramatic (more intense ...

Recommended for you

Color and texture matter most when it comes to tomatoes

1 hour ago

A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), evaluated consumers' choice in fresh tomato selection and revealed which characteristics make the red fruit most appealing.

How the lotus got its own administration

5 hours ago

Actually the lotus is a very ordinary plant. Nevertheless, during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) a complex bureaucratic structure was built up around this plant. The lotus was part of the Imperial Household, ...

What labels on textiles can tell us about society

5 hours ago

Throughout Chinese history, dynastic states used labels on textiles to spread information on the maker, the commissioner, the owner or the date and site of production. Silks produced in state-owned manufacture ...

US company sells out of Ebola toys

Oct 17, 2014

They might look tasteless, but satisfied customers dub them cute and adorable. Ebola-themed toys have proved such a hit that one US-based company has sold out.

User comments : 46

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

enviro414
2.1 / 5 (11) Feb 06, 2014
Two primary drivers of average global temperatures explain the reported up and down measurements since before 1900 with 90% accuracy and provide credible estimates back to the low temperatures of the Little Ice Age (1610).

CO2 change is NOT one of the drivers.

The drivers are given at

http://agwunveile...pot.com/

which includes eye opening graphs of the past, what to expect, and a plethora of links and sub-links to the credible data sources that were used.
Maggnus
4 / 5 (12) Feb 06, 2014
Sunspot activity does not correlate with periods of warming. Even if it did, correlation is not causation. Flogging a dead horse they enviro.
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (12) Feb 06, 2014
How does one debunk the myth of socialism?
Even after millions murdered and millions more impoverished?
Why do supposedly intelligent people still have faith is the power of the state to create Utopia?
Nestle
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 06, 2014
Sunspot activity does not correlate with periods of warming.
It does, but not for current global warming period. IMO both phenomena have common extraterrestrial origin, the sunspots therefore don't affect the climate directly.
ryggesogn2
2.1 / 5 (11) Feb 06, 2014
, correlation is not causation.

Unless it is CO2?
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (9) Feb 06, 2014
"GMO technology "has been used safely in our food supply for 20 years," said Bailey.

"Efforts to label these foods otherwise are often the product of misinformation.""
http://news.yahoo...UDMzNF8x

How many anti-GMOers are AGWites?
Doug_Huffman
1.5 / 5 (8) Feb 06, 2014
How does one debunk the myth of socialism?
Even after millions murdered and millions more impoverished?
Why do supposedly intelligent people still have faith is the power of the state to create Utopia?
The lie (not myth) started with Plato's Republic, continued through Hegel and Marx and into modern economics. The Poverty of Historicism is the dialectic as a logic-like 'syllogism' prophesying the future. The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (9) Feb 06, 2014
How does one debunk the myth of socialism?
Even after millions murdered and millions more impoverished?
Why do supposedly intelligent people still have faith is the power of the state to create Utopia?
Let me paraphrase:

"How does one debunk the myth of god?
Even after millions murdered and millions more impoverished?
Why do supposedly intelligent people still have faith in the power of faith to create heaven on earth?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.7 / 5 (6) Feb 06, 2014
The lie (not myth) started with Plato's Republic, continued through Hegel and Marx and into modern economics. The Poverty of Historicism is the dialectic as a logic-like 'syllogism' prophesying the future. The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper
"How does one debunk the myth of philosophy?
Even after millions stupidified and millions more intellectually impoverished?
Why do supposedly intelligent people still have faith in the power of philobabble to create an ersatz Utopia called the metaphysical?
ryggesogn2
1.9 / 5 (9) Feb 06, 2014
" Thus author and long-time environmental doomsayer Paul Ehrlich, in his new book Betrayal of Science and Reason, calls the Alar debunking a "fable." A recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), published at the nation's most prestigious journalism school, was entitled: "Myths," with the subtitle informing us "The Alar 'Scare' Was Real."

Their evidence, however, is embarrasingly flimsy and often downright false. For one, while they point out correctly that the EPA banned the chemical, they give this a lot more weight than it deserves. Because of the bad publicity, Uniroyal voluntarily withdrew the product for use on food crops. At this point a ban became moot and EPA proceeded with no opposition. Further, to this day Alar continues to be used on plants which don't produce food. "
http://www.fument...mn5.html
thermodynamics
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 06, 2014
Rygg2: I know it was the chemical division and I don't want you to think that I have any opinion for or against alar, but I have problems eating anything made by a company that is famous for vulcanizing rubber.
enviro414
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 07, 2014
Maggnus – Correct, sunspot activity does not correlate with warming. That fact convinced a lot of climate scientists to stop considering sunspots so they missed the discovery.

The sunspot number TIME-INTEGRAL however, combined with the net influence of ocean oscillations, gives an excellent correlation as noted. Take off the blinders and look at the link again.
Maggnus
3.7 / 5 (9) Feb 07, 2014
The sunspot number TIME-INTEGRAL however, combined with the net influence of ocean oscillations, gives an excellent correlation as noted. Take off the blinders and look at the link again.
Tried that! Even turned my head, squinted my eyes, and tried looking at it in a mirror. Nope, still no correlation.

Even if there was a correlation, correlation does not equal causation. This is especially true where there is no mechanism given.

As an engineer, you should understand that very basic concept. And stating this:
Change to the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide has no significant effect on average global temperature.
means you almost certainly have abandoned science as a guiding principle, and referencing your own previous work is simply an exercise in self gratification.

A pretty good word salad, but it is nothing more than that.
Nestle
3 / 5 (4) Feb 07, 2014
Correct, sunspot activity does not correlate with warming.
This is just a hypothesis and poorly supported one.
ryggesogn2
2.6 / 5 (10) Feb 07, 2014
correlation does not equal causation

Really?
Unless, of course, it is CO2 and climate 'scientists' refuse to look anywhere else.
scottfos
3.7 / 5 (7) Feb 07, 2014
the scientific community has, year after year since the early 80's, come to agreement on climate change.

inversely, the public has fallen for the billions spent on "denialist" propaganda. there is an inverse relationship between the science community and the public at large, but a direct relationship between denialist propaganda and public denial.

propaganda.
no fate
4 / 5 (4) Feb 07, 2014
Ironically, if you flipflop the words "myth" and "fact" in the above article, you pretty much draw up the blueprint for spreading the denialist philosphy. For example: First and foremost, you need to emphasise the key MYTHS you wish to communicate rather than the facts.

or

you need to replace the fact with an alternate narrative. This is usually an explanation of why the fact is wrong or how it came about.

Sadly this proves just as effective as it can sway those without the presence of mind to check facts to question valid information. If you convince people to question the truth, it becomes alot easier to replace it with a believable lie.
ryggesogn2
2.6 / 5 (10) Feb 07, 2014
the scientific community has, year after year since the early 80's, come to agreement on climate change.


The 'scientific community' agreed on eugenics.
scottfos
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 07, 2014
the scientific community has, year after year since the early 80's, come to agreement on climate change.


The 'scientific community' agreed on eugenics.

typical. so do you deny ALL science ALWAYS, because it gets more accurate over time? or only the findings you don't like?

just admit you're falling for propaganda. the Koch brothers financed their own studies which concluded the it's happening. they didn't like the findings so they doubled down on their denialist propaganda. and you're falling for it. not sure what's worse - that they're doing it, or that you are falling for it.
ryggesogn2
2.7 / 5 (12) Feb 07, 2014
Climate has been waring for over 10,000 years.
I don't buy CO2 as the cause because it is too convenient and the 'scientific community' has failed to account for past peaks and valleys in climate change.
Until a climate model can retro-dict climate to what has been observed for thousands of years, how can any confidence be place on any prediction?
it gets more accurate over time

That is not a given and there are limits. Especially for chaotic emergent systems like climate.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2014
the scientific community has, year after year since the early 80's, come to agreement on climate change.


The 'scientific community' agreed on eugenics.
The religious communities have all traditionally agreed on the fact that god created the earth for them and them alone, which has generated all manner of conflict, persecution, pogrom, and genocide. Starting with cain the farmer who was jealous of abel the herder for having meat to offer their father instead of just grass.

Religious bigotry is epitomized by the zeal with which the israelites swept through the holy land, destroying over 200 cities, towns, and villages and slaughtering or enslaving their inhabitants.

Thank god it never really happened.

But the myth itself has inspired countless copycat horrors because god said it was not only ok but mandatory. This is why the entire old testament was written around this myth, because such slaughter was necessary if the world was to be conquered and subdued.
Keitho
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 08, 2014
Time will tell who is correct about the man made CO2 controlling the climate theory. I am rather relieved to see that most of the important countries are backing away from doing much about it because the whole thing is very finely nuanced.

When folk like the author are reduced to managing the presentation of the message it is obvious that the message is anything but compelling. I suppose it is quite sweet that so many alarmists think that the Koch brothers can influence mankind while 97%® of the world's scientists, every left wing wing politician and 90% ( untested) of the legacy media seem to be failing in their attempts to scare us into stopping burning stuff and instead send all of our money to the developing world.

The single biggest problem that Cook might want to address is that every apocalyptic outcome that has been predicted hasn't happened yet, it is always just over the horizon.
HannesAlfven
2 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2014
First, let's be clear -- for the sake of the engineers and scientists out there -- that this article makes a case for a vision about how to MARKET scientific ideas. If you don't see that, then it's because you've tried very hard to not know what marketing IS.

Next, realize that what they are doing is applying models for how the mind works to craft their message. Their message is designed with how the mind works, in mind. They look at how people think, and then craft the message to fit into those pre-existing processes.

Now, notice the first sentence:

"Debunking myths requires an understanding of the psychological research into misinformation."

Um, okay. So, from the very first sentence, right out of the gate, there are implicit assumptions and -- the word they use in the article -- NARRATIVES about how science works, which they build their own message upon.

Now, we've learned many things from Daniel Kahneman about the way the mind reasons about these narratives.
HannesAlfven
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 08, 2014
And one of the MOST IMPORTANT things we learn from Kahneman -- for those who have studied his model for how the mind works -- is that these narratives are selected by the mind on the basis of their internal consistency. How BELIEVABLE is the narrative? And to be clear, that is NOT a rational cognitive process. It's actually how biases and groupthink creep into our thought processes. And this is one of the greatest revelations, in fact, of Kahneman's research into decision science: That the human mind is NATURALLY predisposed to biases, and that these biases are introduced into our decision-making at the level of our PERCEPTIONS.

So, what are the narratives which this story ASSUMES?

(1) That scientific consensus is a rational process for coming to a belief that is based upon an independent evaluation of the EVIDENCE.

(2) That scientists have investigated all alternative models, and this is the only one which is possibly true.
HannesAlfven
3 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2014
(3) That the problem of anthropogenic warming is a CLASSICAL (NOT ill-conceived, wicked) problem which we can FULLY solve through the application of our existing models, just like we learned in textbooks and in universities.

(4) That, as critical thinkers, we are not also tasked with identifying DOGMA which AT ALL TIMES permeates the theories that we are learning. This article basically presumes an objective -- the acceptance of anthropogenic models -- and then suggests psychological techniques which can be used to influence people into forming belief based upon what Kahneman calls irrational "system 1" thinking: They are suggesting that we should encourage the public to make assumptions about these narratives, in order to get to the objective -- which is belief.

There are people out there who will tell you that marketing is propaganda. In this case, I'm afraid that this is indeed propaganda -- for the specific reason that it is trying to convince people to make assumptions.
HannesAlfven
3 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2014
So, on assumption (1):

Is consensus really based upon the evidence? That would require that graduate students are permitted to disagree with conventional theory. Is that actually an accurate reflection of how this domain of research is conducted today?

Actually, no, it is not accurate. See Jeff Schmidt's book, Disciplined Minds, to understand why not.

Assumption (2): Have scientists investigated ALL alternative models?

Well, where do we start to question the assumptions? We cannot simply question the assumptions inherent to climate change. That would be an ARBITRARY decision, because climate theory depends upon our theories for how the universe works. We have to question our most fundamental assumptions about how the universe works, because THEY ARE RELEVANT. ???'s like "Is our solar system exchanging energy with other systems in the universe?" have enormous consequences for climate.
HannesAlfven
2.7 / 5 (7) Feb 08, 2014
A person's beliefs about climate depend very heavily upon their beliefs about how the Sun works. So, we have to question that as well.

Now, we can see rather plainly that astrophysicists and cosmologists do NOT investigate all options. Actually, they will eagerly tell most who ask -- as an example -- that they do NOT read IEEE. And that is important because IEEE publishes papers which could fairly be called CRITIQUES of the Astrophysical Journal papers. So, the NARRATIVE that scientists have investigated all alternative models lacks truth to it. It's an assumption which they are encouraging the public to believe in spite of the FACT that it's actually not true.

Assumption (3): Is the question of man's influence upon the climate a problem of calculation which problem-solving will NECESSARILY solve? Or, is it instead an ill-conceived "wicked" problem which might not have a "correct" answer?

I'm sorry for the authors of this article, but AGW is obviously a WICKED problem.
HannesAlfven
3 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2014
Assumption (4): Is it really true that dogma is not a threat to our beliefs?

The problem with asking the question is that dogma is impossible to see. So, if you are asking that question, then you probably don't know what dogma IS, to begin with.

One of the biases we see from decision science is that the mind plays favorites with what it CAN see over what it cannot. And that this the very problem with dogma: We cannot easily see it, because it emerges from the mouths of our experts. This article's author has decided to completely ignore dogma within our scientific theories.

What I would suggest is that ANY and EVERY article which talks about the threat of pseudoscience should ALSO talk about the threat of dogma. The two problems are like poles of the same problem space. When we analyze a situation, we are trying to figure out where on that CONTINUUM -- from pseudoscience to dogma -- that this particular problem lies.
HannesAlfven
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 08, 2014
Now, one more thing:

Many people have noticed that there is something WRONG with what is happening with the Internet today. But, they have a difficult time putting their finger on it.

What that thing is is ANNOTATIONS. The Internet was originally designed to include the ability to annotate all documents. The first Mosaic browser was designed with this functionality. And Google cofounder, Larry Page's, dissertation was on this subject of annotations. It was only through observing the nature of that problem which he was able to formulate the solution of PageRank.

The lack of annotations on the web leads to a very serious problem: The public lacks a necessary technology for eliciting wisdom from the crowd. Annotations are that missing technology.

By fixing the annotation problem, we will finally have the tool we need to standardize intelligent discourse online. And THAT is how we will discuss science RATIONALLY -- rather than through marketing techniques.
HannesAlfven
3.5 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2014
What scientists and engineers really need to realize is that the mind has a system which keeps us all alive. That system, by definition, has to be designed for SPEED, and it is separate from the other, rational system -- which is designed for ACCURACY. Kahneman calls these "system 1" (speed) and "system 2" (accuracy).

Marketing and branding mostly work by making appeals to system 1. A typical branding situation is that a company wants to encourage you to pay more for something. What they do is to make appeals to your irrational thinking -- system 1 -- in order to get you to pay more for it is rationally worth.

That system 1 is the FAST system. It's designed to keep you alive, so it tinkers with your PERCEPTIONS. It actually alters what you see and sense, and it pops pre-formed narratives into your head which your rational mind -- system 2 -- is then tasked with judging, much like the way news reporters interact with a journal editor.
Captain Stumpy
4.1 / 5 (9) Feb 08, 2014
because IEEE publishes papers which could fairly be called CRITIQUES of the Astrophysical Journal papers

@Halfven
first off, the IEEE also publish papers about the EU philosophy (something that is so wrong and based upon so many fallacies that it cannot even be considered a hypothesis as its grounding is in the imagination, not science)
secondly- those EU critiques are the delusional speculations of electrical engineers (EE) that have no formal education in astrophysics
Engineers do NOT take astrophysics
astrophysicists HAVE to take Plasma physics etc
THEREIN lies the difference
cosmologists take much more into consideration than EE's do
that is why EU is not only wrong, but no better than a faith

case in point: asteroid formation, craters on the moon, solar physics, etc
Captain Stumpy
3.5 / 5 (8) Feb 08, 2014
That system 1 is the FAST system. It's designed to keep you alive, so it tinkers with your PERCEPTIONS. It actually alters what you see and sense, and it pops pre-formed narratives into your head which your rational mind -- system 2 -- is then tasked with judging, ...

@Halfven
this really is the meat of all that above posting...
should have just skipped the diatribe and got right to the point.
The above is an article meant for the general layperson to use as a guide for refuting the idiocy of pseudosciences or fallacies. It uses a known method that works
Those who have the ability to logically dissect a situation and understand it can think their way through to a logical scientific based solution

climate science is nothing more than scientists doing just this regardless of your derogatory comments
people who DENY THE SCIENCE have an agenda and are usually paid cranks or delusional mental patients
Keyboard diarrhoea like the above doesnt help
it actually obfuscates reality
verkle
3 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2014
The truth is out there – so how do you debunk a myth?


Great headline! I'm all for that.
Very poor examples in the article!

One personal comment: Truth is NEVER determined by concensus. When these LW keep trying to use the phrase "scientific concensus" I have to squirm. Many, many times in history the concensus has been wrong.
Keitho
2.5 / 5 (6) Feb 09, 2014
@Captain Stumpy

"people who DENY THE SCIENCE have an agenda and are usually paid cranks or delusional mental patients"

Such lazy thinking. You have constructed a vision in your head to which you then ascribe the faults quoted. In fact it makes you sound quite demented and oblivious to the reality that there are a great many people who simply don't buy into your religious fervour for reasons of logic and fact.

The fact that you feel driven to demonise those who disagree with you is indicative of your insecurity with regards to your beliefs. I have encountered such attitudes amongst Marxists and Europhiles where any contrary position is demeaned as being driven by delusion or self interest.

Propaganda, such as generated by Cook, Lewandowsky and Nuccitelli will always fail in the long run as truth will always out. That such efforts as they make are necessary to advance the very tenuous theory of man made climate change would make alarm bells ring in any thinking man's head.
Sigh
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 09, 2014
One personal comment: Truth is NEVER determined by concensus.

True for deductive reasoning. When dealing with noisy empirical data and perhaps uncertainty regarding the range of possible hypotheses, do you have a better suggestion?

Many, many times in history the concensus has been wrong.

True, but meaningless without a denominator. What is the historical frequency of the consensus turning out to be true (and what is your criterion for that?), compared to the alternatives? Hollow Earth theory, planet Nibiru, the electric universe, cold fusion, intelligent design, homeopathy, dowsing, spiritualism, and so on. Add all the hypotheses proposed in the scientific literature, tested and discarded without ever becoming consensus opinion. For consensus to be epistemically relevant it only needs a higher frequency of turning out to be true than alternatives. A perfect record is not required. And all you say is that consensus does not have a perfect record. So what?
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2014
You have constructed a vision in your head to which you then ascribe the faults quoted. In fact it makes you sound quite demented and oblivious to the reality that there are a great many people who simply don't buy into your religious fervour for reasons of logic and fact

@Keitho
nope. I am basing this comment on personal experience
first thing: I dont care WHAT a person THINKS- science and logic will always win out
when I made the comment that you feel "demonise" them, I am referring to those specific people who are so adamant in their delusions that they cannot fathom logic and science and cling to their faith with no tenable defense other than "they believe" while offering pseudoscience and crackpot links/hypothesis for support
this is not insecurity on my part, this is a statement of my observations
this is a specific response to what has been shown in Climate science and is widely seen still in deniers
Captain Stumpy
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 09, 2014
The fact that you feel driven to demonise those who disagree with you is indicative of your insecurity with regards to your beliefs. I have encountered such attitudes amongst Marxists and Europhiles where any contrary position is demeaned as being driven by delusion or self interest

@Keitho
please understand that I really dont give a d**n what anyone "thinks" or "believes"
that is their right
however, when they spout it off on a public site
(especially deniers of climate science and pseudoscience crackpots)
then it should be pointed out that their claims are false
if you let the cranks have their field day in the comments, you get a spread of false information because most people are too lazy to look up data and read facts and learn the truth
Propaganda, such as generated by

this is for pseudosciences
science uses logic

again... that comment was a reply to Alfven
it was AN observation of mine
not a statement of scientific fact (no link)
does that help explain it?
Captain Stumpy
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2014
One personal comment: Truth is NEVER determined by concensus

@verkle
like sigh said... true for deductive reasoning

the "consensus" that climate science is referring to is:
many people making different scientific observations and measurements and experiments over time that all point in the same general direction which generally concludes the same thing

it is NOT a meeting where everyone got together and said "hey, I cant figure this out, lets vote on it" which is completely different and implies that no science was done (like a congressional consensus)

so... consensus in this regard is just a term used to say "everyone has the same general belief based upon the science as it all points in the same direction"

no big deal, really... it is the pseudoscience of the denialist that makes it the issue...
call it an informal fallacy based upon the misrepresentation of the term
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (8) Feb 09, 2014
consensus does not have a perfect record. So what?

Depends upon the impact of the consensus.
The eugenics consensus led to the death of millions.
The AGW consensus will also be quite destructive.
ryggesogn2
1.6 / 5 (7) Feb 09, 2014
Dangers of a 'scientific consensus':
"The Secret Science Reform Act would prohibit the EPA from using data that is not publicly available or replicable. Despite President Barack Obama's promise to have the most transparent administration in history, the EPA has used secret data sets to justify nearly every regulation proposed under Obama."
"
"Virtually every regulation proposed by the Obama administration has been justified by nontransparent data and unverifiable claims," said Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, one of the bill's cosponsors. "The American people foot the bill for EPA's costly regulations, and they have a right to see the underlying science."

Read more: http://dailycalle...sqcBH7W6
Sigh
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 09, 2014
consensus does not have a perfect record. So what?

Depends upon the impact of the consensus.

Unless you can show that mistakes based on scientific consensus are more destructive than other mistakes, that is irrelevant to my argument. You don't get from "when most gelologists laughed at continental drift they turned out to be wrong" to "when most climate scientists say humans are responsible for global warming, they are wrong". It doesn't work as a deductive argument. If you want to make it work as a probabilistic argument, you need those frequencies I asked for, to estimate probabilities. Cost doesn't change those probabilities. And if cost doesn't correlate with consensus, then it also doesn't change the expected utility of decisions based on scientific consensus.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) Feb 09, 2014
Anyone notice how NBC is covering up for the myth of Soviet communism?

Cost doesn't change those probabilities.

But is must be considered if state coercion will applied.
Sigh
5 / 5 (6) Feb 09, 2014
Cost doesn't change those probabilities.

But is must be considered if state coercion will applied.

Your bias is showing again. Cost must be considered in any decision where the possible outcomes differ in their costs. It is irrelevant whether the cost comes from state coercion, crime, an externality imposed by a private company, or anything else.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2014
Anyone notice how NBC is covering up for the myth of Soviet communism?

Cost doesn't change those probabilities.

But is must be considered if state coercion will applied.

On one of the promos NBC/Commiecast highlighted Lenin as a Russian "great", I didn't see such a POV from the Russians during the ceremony.
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2014
Note the reference to replacing "myths" with an "alternate narrative" that is "usually" an "explanation" of why the "myth" is wrong or how it came about. How many are aware that quinine came from a folk remedy, aspirin from an "old wives' tale"? Before Edward Jenner, Russian peasant women were practicing inoculation, wandering about with walnut shells filled with contagion. If someone wanted an inoculation, they would break a vein and introduce the contagion. Many surgeons today are using leeches. The myth of "myths" is based on telling self centered failures that everyone before them was an imbecile, that they knew a knife in the gut would harm them, but they did it, anyway. And the "scientists" rely on a craven "media" not to reveal where "myths" worked and their target audience not to realize humanity would not be here if their "myths" didn't work!
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2014
It is irrelevant whether the cost comes from state coercion,

Don't you understand coercion?
Coercion means force.
When the state believes in a myth like socialism using its force to destroy people's lives but, if they are lucky, those people can run away.
When the EPA applies myth to its regulations that carry the force of law, people suffer.