2011-06-16 00:49:54Chris Colose (hiya!) said something interesting at Bart's (hello)


I think a considerable amount of time should be dedicated to teaching about standards in science, what science does and does not answer, and tutorials in basic logic and how to spot straw man attacks, irrelevancies, and cherry picking, which will arm the public with enough to knock down 3/4 of all skeptical arguments right there, but can be generalized to any form of argument (creationists employ the very same tactics).

It got to thinking on how to simplify the arguments made by skeptics, and give people a better idea on how to understand the nature of science uses logic (as opposed to most of skeptical arguments), and arm people with mental tool.  Perhaps we cold help there by adding a category to the database, like "logic fallacies" or something.


I went and I did a few, using the SkS argument page and this.  It's interesting.


Argument By Selective Observation
It's not bad
There is no consensus
"It's cooling"
Hockey stick is broken
Glaciers are growing
Oceans are cooling


Moving The Goalposts 

Models are unreliable


Argument By Scenario
Ice age predicted in the 70s


Ad Hominem 
Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy
Peer review process was corrupted

Straw Man
It's a 1500 year cycle
Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas
There's no tropospheric hot spot
CO2 is not the only driver of climate
Positive feedback means runaway warming


Argument By Half Truth

Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas


Burden Of Proof
There's no tropospheric hot spot


Fallacy Of The Crucial Experiment
Greenhouse effect has been falsified


Appeal To Complexity
Climate is chaotic and cannot be predicted



2011-06-16 01:16:01

Causal Reductionism
Climate's changed before
Mars is warming

Hypothesis Contrary To Fact
It's the sun
Temp record is unreliable
Ice age predicted in the 70s
Positive feedback means runaway warming

2011-06-16 01:21:27
Julian Brimelow

Good idea Grypo.

2011-06-16 01:23:48A couple of suggestions...
John Hartz
John Hartz

Appeal to simplicity

  • The climate's always changing

Assuaging guilt

  • We're creating a new Garden of Eden
2011-06-16 01:44:10
Dana Nuccitelli

Yeah I remember at one point a while back we were talking about doing something like this - categorizing myths by logical fallacy.  Just one of those ideas that didn't get off the ground.

2011-06-16 01:51:05


Dana, it's tough to figure out how to display it.  Do we do a set of posts about each logical fallacy and show what arguments fall into those traps?  Don't know.  How far did you get last time?

2011-06-16 02:20:15Categorizing Denier Myths
John Hartz
John Hartz

There are just too many ways to slice and dice the universe of myths. A comprehensive scheme would have to be multi-dimensional. It's fun to do dabble with categories as an intellectual exercise though.  

2011-06-16 04:30:08
Ari Jokimäki


Do one post where you categorize them all like has been done above. Give also percentage how much of all arguments fall under logical fallacies. That's my opinion. :)

2011-06-16 05:55:26
Dana Nuccitelli

It never got off the ground before - just an idea we batted around.  Ari's is a good suggestion.  Or a series of posts on each different fallacy, if you and/or others have the time and will.  Would be good to get John's input on this.

2011-06-16 10:23:47I like this idea
John Cook


In fact, this idea is crucial. To rebut myths, we need to provide an alternate narrative and often the narrative is that the opposition is just using logical fallacies. I usually break down the narratives to those 5 denial characteristics:

  1. Cherry picking
  2. Conspiracy theories
  3. Fake Experts
  4. Logical fallacies and misrepresentation
  5. Unrealistic expectations

So the ideas listed above are other versions of these or subsets. I think developing this would be a useful resource - but defining the fallacies needs to be done first plus determine how to make the information available.

I kind of like the idea of having a graphical icon for each fallacy then somewhere you display the icon in the corner of a skeptic argument. Was thinking of doing a Monckton rebuttal document before he hits Australia in a few weeks and using cute icons to characterise all his rhetorical arguments. But I need to get hold of his slideshow first, the most recent one, and he won't send it to any of the scientists who've been asking.

2011-06-16 10:38:13
Dana Nuccitelli

Yeah the fallacy graphical icons is a great idea.  Cherrypicking is a simple one (cherries!).  Conspiracy theories = tinfoil hat.  Fake experts = a photo of Monckton :-)

2011-06-16 12:56:18
Rob Painting

Thumbs up from me on the idea, and nice icon suggestions there Dana. What about?

- Mole sticking it's head up out of the ground with a tiny pile of dirt next to it (mountains out of molehills), or alternatively:

- A teacup with a little cloud hovering above and a bolt of lightning shooting down into the cup.

- goalposts in motion

- strawman = that goofy image of the strawman from the Wizard of Oz.

So is the idea that one can click on the icon button and be taken to the appropriate explanation?