Flat-Earth Theory Lives!


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What do scientists really say about climate change?

There’s a video making the rounds on social media by Richard Lindzen, who is an emeritus professor of meteorology.

Many of the claims in the video are literally true, but they’re presented in a way that misrepresents the actual facts of climate change science.  I’ve gone through and highlighted the ones that caught my eye, but I’m sure that an actual climate scientist would be able to add to the list.

“For 30 years . . . the climate has changed remarkably little. . . . In fact, it seems that the less the climate changes, the louder the voices of the climate alarmists get.”

The phrase “remarkably little” is vague enough that we can’t mark this claim as strictly false, but it is misleading.  In the past 30 years the global mean temperature has gone up over 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This seems small compared to seasonal and day-to-day variation, but the consensus view of scientists is that long-term temperature increase of this magnitude is very dangerous.

There is a graphic labeled “Climate Change over Time” at twenty seconds in, which gives the impression that there has been no global temperature increase for the past two decades. The graph isn’t labeled, so I can’t be sure where it comes from, but it is misleading, and perhaps wrong.

Here’s a graph from NASA of global temperatures over time: Continue reading

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Some Perspective on Warming


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Starting the next “pause”

2015 is the hottest year ever recorded.


Or, as deniers prefer to say, it was “the beginning of the next ‘pause’.”


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So, you don’t believe in Qi?

Here’s proof:


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Checking for Bias

116_2014_b1-oliv-thumb-scale8201If there’s one thing you should take away from an introductory-level philosophy class, it is the insight that we are often blind to our own cognitive mistakes. From Socrates pointing out the importance of knowing what you don’t know, all the way down to contemporary discussions of the Dunning-Kruger effect, we find that most people fool themselves most of the time.

If we’re going to be exceptions to this rule, it’s going to take some effort. You’ve probably also noticed that it isn’t easy to analyze arguments, weigh evidence, and assess the epistemic situation of yourself and others. Being rational can be difficult work.

All of this applies to professional philosophers as well. Which is one reason that I like to run occasional rationality checks on myself. Nothing profound, and I get nothing but a cookie if I pass, but I still see it as a way of trying to keep my own foolishness in check.

One exercise I recommend is that of honestly comparing your opinions to those of someone smarter than you.  But that’s not as easy as it sounds: Continue reading

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The Hockey Stick

This isn’t going to be full accounting of the Hockey Stick controversy. You can read the post at the American Institute of Phsyics or Wikipedia if you want more gory details, or Mann’s book if you want a first-hand account.

I am instead going to look a one “skeptical” account of the controversy and point out a few places where it goes wrong. (I’ll leave it to you to decide whether it should be considered an example of denialism.)

This account can be found on an anonymously authored blog called The Skeptical Mind. I can find no indication of when the piece was posted, so when I point out below that the piece fails to discuss various subsequent developments, I can’t say whether this is because those papers hadn’t yet been published, or because the author simply ignored them. But this is irrelevant for deciding whether we should accept his account (though it presumably is relevant for deciding whether the author should be considered a “skeptic” or a “denier.”) Continue reading

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