15 December 2009

Limiting noise

Slashdot asking at what point you should just ignore another's argument. Global warming discussions often include those ignorant of or willfully distortive to the facts, and so how much time can you really spend countering their wild accusations? Here's a challenge: prove to a YEC that the theory of evolution is true. How much geology, anthropology, biology, genetics, and even cosmology would you need to know to prove this? How would you condense over 100 years of intensive, interdisciplinary science into laymans' terms? A layman aggressively opposed to what you're condensing? How much time would it take?

Add to this the knowledge that many who doubt are simply political trolls purposefully injecting false information in order to cloud the issues. Why would you waste energy arguing with them? I considered this when I was reviewing the leaked CRU emails. People are listening to Rush Limbaugh as he deliberately quotes from the emails out-of-context, but they're ignoring more detailed discussions. These people don't care to learn and are a waste of energy to argue against.

But unfortunately: they have power.

Mason had a discussion with some people w/r/t the CRU emails. It's locked behind the walled garden of Facebook, but it is a model of bad information. Denialists were referencing Bjørn Lomborg and The Washington Times. They'll believe someone with political science degrees or a newspaper that's a mouthpiece for the Moonies, but will ignore the opinion of nearly 100% of science groups and scientists. At one point, the word "hide" from one of the emails was quoted as proof of deception. It boggles the mind. Stink factor is high here and begins to put these arguments in the realm of creationists and flat-Earthers. Far from a logical fallacy, ignoring flawed sources is simply weeding for relevance. Having a different opinion from others does not automatically make it equally valid. You could argue against every view that exists, but why?

[ updated the same day ]

Michael Mann on On Point addressing a caller's complaint that skeptics are ignored in the peer-reviewed platforms:

Scientist should subject their own ideas to as much scrutiny as possible... that has to be distinguished from contrarianism which is not skepticism. It's often in the form of a denial of what the science shows without subjecting that denial to the kind of scrutiny [and] scepticism that it deserves. Not all ideas are equal. Not all propositions are equally valid. [emphasis mine] 1 + 1 = 2. If there were a mathematician who felt that 1 + 1 = 3, it's very likely that he or she would not be able to publish that paper in the peer-reviewed mathematical literature.
[ posted by sstrader on 15 December 2009 at 9:58:00 AM in Science & Technology ]