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Assaulting Reason
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oh, I got that wrong ... it is Al Gore talking about "The Assault on Reason" in his new book. I had to laugh just a bit when I read the following, speaking of the alleged lack of debate in the Senate before voting on Iraq, because the irony of the statement was obviously lost on Al:
"Why do reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions?"
I keep asking myself that every time I watch an "Inconvenient Truth" and hear about 'scientific consensus' being the new standard for making important decisions which could radically change our way of life for the worse.

But maybe it's just me.

Read Al's book excerpt and tell me if it isn't a bit light in the intellectual loafers and, well, mostly proof that he has a firm grasp of the obvious. Except for his advocacy for MoveOn.org, of course. That's just plain old spin.

And at the end, Al becomes a little possessive about his invention. He's not at all pleased that the possibility exists that internet operators might "go about it the wrong way" and limit the free flow of information over the net. But he's never clear about what he considers to be the "right way". My guess, though, would be that his perfect solution would somehow involve a massive dose of government.
 
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’scientific consensus’ being the new standard for making important decisions which could radically change our way of life for the worse

here’s one I’m personally involved in. How much perchlorate should your water company be able to allow in your drinking water? Because perchlorate is a key ingredient of solid rocket fuel and many munitions, it’s a multi-billion dollar question. A low threshold, say around 1 part per billion, will cost the DOD literally many billions of dollars as it cleans up contamination spilling into groundwater from formerly utilized defense sites. A high threshold, say in excess of 200 parts per billion, could save the DOD billions.

But perchlorate inhibits iodide uptake in the thyroid. And neo-nates are especially susceptible to adverse effects because they don’t have a built-up iodide buffer. Hypothyroidism has all sorts of unpleasant developmental effects.

so we can save tens to hundreds of billions of dollars by leaving more perchlorate in drinking water and possibly causing developmental impacts in some kids.

who decides the balance? you? EPA? National Academy of Sciences? Individual states? Individual water providers?

and how much certainty is required? now that’s a hard question, in large part because it’s illegal to use babies as guinea pigs.

Here’s an idea. Let’s ask different groups of scientists, with specialities in epidemiology, child development, thyroid function, risk assessment, cost-benefit analyses, and water treatment systems, and see if they can come up with a CONSENSUS.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
I keep asking myself that every time I watch an "Inconvenient Truth"
Do you really watch it that often? (Chuckle)
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
"Here’s an idea. Let’s ask different groups of scientists, with specialities in epidemiology, child development, thyroid function, risk assessment, cost-benefit analyses, and water treatment systems, and see if they can come up with a CONSENSUS."
Might it be possible that the critique is leveled at those who assume the presence of a consensus means there is no call for skepticism? Has a consensus ever been wrong?

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
"Has a consensus ever been wrong?" Are you kidding? Where do I start - OK - how about that flat earth kinda consensus. Chris Columbus was really betting the farm that one wasn’t true. Or the one where the Earth is the Center of the Universe. Copernicus got himself famous for putting that one to bed.

Oh wait - I see - just a little sarcasm there and I was just too slow to catch on. But someone like Gore wouldn’t appreciate that kind of humor. He being the ultimate arbiter of all things dealing with "reason, logic and truth". He knows he is right ’cause he’s got a consensus. Again with that "reason, logic and truth" kinda thing.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
I have to say that I absolutely laugh out loud when Al Gore becomes a topic of discussion and some folks never miss a chance to poke fun at the guy who they thought was the bad choice back in 2000.

Yeah, you geniuses that picked the guy in the WH today have a lot of room to point fingers.

You managed to find a guy that’s making Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon look good, and you cast aspersions on the guy who could not have done a worse job than GWB if he ate the White House staff and then slept for 8 years.

In fact, if GWB had done that, his approval rating would be higher than it is today, though not as high as Al Gore’s current approval which is about twice that of the guy you guys decided would be the best President. For GWB, the number 43 has a dual use, he is the 43rd President, and is ranked 43rd among Presidents.

Keep entertaining me.

Oh, and though I think it is a waste of time for people like me, who are not qualified climatologists, to debate science with people like you, who are not climatologists, I do have to point out that the constant suggestion that the only support for Al Gore’s assertions is a "consensus" of scientists is a strawman argument that ignores every other piece of evidence that he has presented supporting his case. Personally, I am fairly agnostic on the topic.

Also, when the scientific consensus was that the earth WAS indeed round, there were probably lunatics running around talking about how laughable a consensus was. In other words, a consensus neither proves nor disproves an assertion. It carries some weight, but the individual scientific research product is where the meat of any scientific assertion is, but it’s easier to set up that consensus strawman, ain’t it.



 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://sarcasticon.blogspot.com/
That’s assuming a lot, Captain, that everyone making fun of Gore today disliked him in 2000. And you know what "assuming" means.

And even if this has nothing whatsoever to do with Bush... well, *everything* ought to come back around to Bush eventually. Any criticism, well Bush deserves more, so it’s always on topic.

And nice appeal to authority... can’t cognate that old scientific argument if we aren’t climatologists so it’s untoward to presume. Oh, my.

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
That’s assuming a lot, Captain, that everyone making fun of Gore today disliked him in 2000. And you know what "assuming" means.
I didn’t want to make it too personal, but the author supported Bush over Gore.
And even if this has nothing whatsoever to do with Bush... well, *everything* ought to come back around to Bush eventually. Any criticism, well Bush deserves more, so it’s always on topic.
Gore is famous for running President, and not, uh, winning, against George Bush, they are forever connected. It’s not like we were bashing Al Sharpton and I mocked you because Sharpton is less bashable that Bush. (he may be one of the few that’s as bashable as Bush)
And nice appeal to authority... can’t cognate that old scientific argument if we aren’t climatologists so it’s untoward to presume. Oh, my.
Sorry, that doesn’t wash since I was not making case for, or against global warming, as I said, I am agnostic on the subject. I was simply making a point about the strawman of pretending that without consenus Al Gore has no argument. To be more specific, I do not accept the science to the extent that I would ride a bicycle 20 miles to my office. I simply think it is laughable watching two people cutting and pasting data that they don’t understand, in support of whatever belief they have.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the fact is that the best critics of scientific research are scientist who understand the research, aka peer review. Bad science is exposed all the time in this manner, some of it being climate science. But if one of you ideologues tries to do it, it’s just funny.

I can debate evolution, since that’s a debate between science that I have a better understanding of and the opposing side is rarely using anything remotely comparable to scientific method. If you prefer, you could just assume that I am just not smart enough (in climatological studies) to know the good science from the bad, and other than the obvious conflicts of interests, I just can’t tell whether the Exxon scientist is right, or the scientist with his life savings in windfarms is right.

But I least I don’t let my political ideology guide my scientific understanding.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://sarcasticon.blogspot.com
I have to say that I absolutely laugh out loud when Al Gore becomes a topic of discussion and some folks never miss a chance to poke fun at the guy who they thought was the bad choice back in 2000
...
I didn’t want to make it too personal, but the author supported Bush over Gore.
Using your standard, Can I ignore any criticism that you do of George W. Bush?
Such as what you wrote after saying Mcq can not criticize Al Gore today because he criticized him in 2000.

Yeah, you geniuses that picked the guy in the WH today have a lot of room to point fingers.

You managed to find a guy that’s making Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon look good, and you cast aspersions on the guy who could not have done a worse job than GWB if he ate the White House staff and then slept for 8 years.

In fact, if GWB had done that, his approval rating would be higher than it is today, though not as high as Al Gore’s current approval which is about twice that of the guy you guys decided would be the best President. For GWB, the number 43 has a dual use, he is the 43rd President, and is ranked 43rd among Presidents.
Typical liberal double standard.
 
Written By: Paul L.
URL: http://kingdomofidiots.blogspot.com/
Talk about being completely off the topic...

Captin Sarcastic = YABDSS
Here’s an idea. Let’s ask different groups of scientists, with specialities in epidemiology, child development, thyroid function, risk assessment, cost-benefit analyses, and water treatment systems, and see if they can come up with a CONSENSUS.
And if those scientists ignored past history, and didn’t take into account large variables in their calculations and modeling, what would you think of their "consensus" then?
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
Odd. For decades every liberal I have known has lectured me for putting too high a value on reason and not enough on feelings, particularly the Almighty, Trumps-All feeling of "compassion" (apparently redefined as a willingness to spend other people’s money). So now suddenly THEY’RE the rational crowd?
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
To be rational is to be irrational and emotional. It’s postmodernism baby, beyond good and evil and using words for will to power! Communists were sumpremely rational too...see how Stalin used logic to devestate his enemies? And how the National Socialists used science to liquidate those it disagreed with? YAY SCIENCE AND LOGIC!!
 
Written By: Fredrich Lives On
URL: http://
"Communists were supremely rational, too . . . " Yes—if you accept their irrational premises, then I guess you could say they were acting rationally.
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
Francis:

Exactly what type of perchlorate are we talking about here? Potassium perchlorate? What is it bonded to? Are we certain of the source? Without more information, how can I answer your question?

This is the problem with much of the AGW consensus. No matter how sophisticated the models, they fail to account for all the variables. In your example I would tend to listen to a consensus of medical doctors, epidemiologists and organic chemists as to effects. They have the skill set necessary to study the problem and the tools to do it with. I would not drag in a bunch of psychologists, sociologists and astronomers to artificially inflate the number of scientists who agree with my particular agenda: in fact I would try to not have an agenda.

Once passion and advocacy replace replace scientific dispassion in experimentation all objectivity is lost. Thus the prevalence of confirmation bias and outright fraud: Gore

"If, when the remaining unknowns about the envioronmental challenge enter the public debate, they are presented as signs that the crisis may not be real after all, it undermines the effort to build a solid base of public support for the difficult actions we must soon take."

This is not science, this is pure politics.
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://
Using your standard, Can I ignore any criticism that you do of George W. Bush?
Such as what you wrote after saying Mcq can not criticize Al Gore today because he criticized him in 2000.
I never said McQ is not allowed to criticize Al Gore, I just mentioned that it entertains me when he does, considering the choice he made.

From my perspective, I was right in 2000, it is inconceivable that Al Gore could have done a worse job than GWB, so my view is that people who chose george Bush over Al Gore lack credibility when they disparage Gore, and further, for the choice they DID make, should be apologizing for their mistake rather than reinforcing.

But please, by all means, keep criticizing Al Gore, and I will keep laughing at you.
Odd. For decades every liberal I have known has lectured me for putting too high a value on reason and not enough on feelings, particularly the Almighty, Trumps-All feeling of "compassion" (apparently redefined as a willingness to spend other people’s money). So now suddenly THEY’RE the rational crowd?


Being that my formative years were influenced by Ayn Rand, Robert Heinlein, Aldous Huxley, and Ray Bradbury, reason is not a new concept for me. What is a fairly recent development for me is the idea that no ideology is completely right, or completely wrong, and it is the tension between them can lead us to positive progression, but if we move too far in any direction, it can also lead to negative consequences.

People that constantly, and only point out the negative aspects of liberalism have a place in the tension equation, but they are not right, the same can be said for those that point out the evils of every other ism, as well as those that point out the benefits of any of these ism’s. But my opinion is that it a balanced combination of all of them that protects rights and provides for the common welfare.

All you so-called libertarians out there would not want to live in the world you espouse, frankly, most of you couldn’t handle it, and those that could, would become what you claim to despise most, the coercers. And of course we all know the evils that are endemic to the establishment of a fully socialist (communist state).

I wish there was a way for you people to experience life in the world as you would have it, I really do.

Cap
This is the problem with much of the AGW consensus. No matter how sophisticated the models, they fail to account for all the variables. In your example I would tend to listen to a consensus of medical doctors, epidemiologists and organic chemists as to effects. They have the skill set necessary to study the problem and the tools to do it with. I would not drag in a bunch of psychologists, sociologists and astronomers to artificially inflate the number of scientists who agree with my particular agenda: in fact I would try to not have an agenda.
I agree completely, consensus is absolutely the weakest link, especially when sicetists outside of the filed are include. What do you call it when you attack the weakest link of an argument and ignore the rest of the argument? Oh yes, a strawman argument.

Thanks for playing.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://sarcasticon.blogspot.com
I never said McQ is not allowed to criticize Al Gore, I just mentioned that it entertains me when he does, considering the choice he made.
Really? What choice was that? FYI I didn’t vote for Bush.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
What do you call it when you attack the weakest link of an argument and ignore the rest of the argument? Oh yes, a strawman argument.
No, that’s not a strawman. A strawman is deliberately exaggerating your opponent’s position to one that is utterly foolish and was never argued in the first place. Here’s more on the strawman

Attacking your opponent’s weakest point and ignoring the rest may be lazy, but it’s not a fallacy. If your opponent’s argument has a weakness, it deserves to be challenged.
 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
What do you call it when you attack the weakest link of an argument and ignore the rest of the argument? Oh yes, a strawman argument.
No, that’s not a strawman.
I’m sure that he meant it as an example of a strawman argument.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
What does Gore loosing the 2000 elections have anything to do with criticizing his position on Global Warming?
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
What does Gore loosing the 2000 elections have anything to do with criticizing his position on Global Warming?
Cap Scarco is just pining for a love lost. That guy sounds more like MKUltra every day.
 
Written By: cap joe
URL: http://
I thought a "strawman" was when you erected an argument that hadn’t been made and then attacked that argument.

I’m certain that attacking a weak link and ignoring the rest is some other fallacy.

Oh, never mind, I see that I just repeated what steverino already said.


Anyway, the "consensus" argument isn’t the weak link, it’s what is presented as a proof for the other evidence. If I were to criticize the computer modeling, for instance, it’s nearly inevitable that *someone* would reply, not by supporting the computer modeling, but by pointing out that almost all *scientists* agree with AGW. Take on any particular bit of evidence and that’s a likely response.

And when "consensus" doesn’t work as well as hoped, the next defense of the "evidence" is usually, "Better safe than sorry."

Neither "consensus" or "better safe than sorry" address the evidence at all. Neither argument works as a proof of the scientific arguments nor do they answer the questions about the scientific arguments.

In the end it’s sort of hard to escape the conclusion that the scientific rigor on this is something to the tune of "Cleaning up the environment is good, reducing pollution and carbon liberation is good, all that stuff is good so... why not?"

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
What does Gore loosing the 2000 elections have anything to do with criticizing his position on Global Warming?
Well.....after all, he’d just be some boob untrained in climatology trying to save us all from Global Warming if it weren’t for his being Vice President (inventing the Internet and plowing his forty acres with his mule) and then having the 2000 election stolen from him, so he wouldn’t have a national platform position to espouse (spout) his global warming ’research’.

When we tie him to the 2000 election, and remind everyone he used to be Vice President (yeah, Lyndon Johnson, he was a VP too) then he’s not just some untrained boob trying to save us from Global Warming, he’s a politician with no formal training in climatology trying to save us from Global Warming!
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
and pegging the irony meter for appeals to authority -

Oh, and though I think it is a waste of time for people like me, who are not qualified climatologists, to debate science with people like you, who are not climatologists, I do have to point out that the constant suggestion that the only support for Al Gore’s assertions is...
See, what you left out here Cap, was the point that in addition to you not being a qualified climatologist, and most of us not being qualified climatologists (an assumption you’re making when in fact you can’t be certain) that Al Gore is also not a qualified climatologist.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Uncle Pinky:

like other salts, in water perchlorate breaks down into its separate ions. The cation — aluminum and potassium are the common ones — goes its separate way.

Why should the source matter? ClO4 is the same everywhere whether made artificially or naturally, unless you want to start talking about oxygen isotopes. My understanding is that the science of perchlorate impacts on thyroid have not considered different isotopic weights. Isotopes are useful, however, for tracking down the original discharger.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Dear Francis,

The sourcing matters in determining the contamination vector. If you spend, I dunno, umpteen billion dollars cleaning up a mess and still have the same amount of contaminant you have wasted a lot of money for no noticeable effect. It also impacts the legal matter: who pays for this. You know the answer as well as I, but the taxpayer (through his always proper, correct and friendly catspaw: Da Gubmint) hasn’t come to check my well water, and when I’m down in Florida the consensus is that a little sulfur contamination keeps the skeeters off ya. When I’m in R.I. it takes me a couple of days to acclimitize myself to the water there.

Now, I like you Francis. I think your heart is in the right place and I still have my old Woodsy Owl T-shirt somewhere, so I’ll do a little digging and see what I can find out, but any and all information that you have would be welcome.
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://

 
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