Thursday, February 21, 2019

What’s natural about Steele’s baloney kit #1 - via Pacifica Tribune 2/20

Apparently, Jim Steele's What's Natural? column is a weekly affair.  This week he cancelled his promised Changing Sea Levels #2 and instead shares pointers from Carl Sagan in his What's Natural? "The Scientific Baloney Detection Kit" Feb. 20th, Pacific Tribune.  It promises to offers an interesting journey into the mindscape of double standards and blindspots.  I'm limiting this post to his introduction which offered it's own share of talking points.  Then I'll be looking into Sagan's specific points in a later posting.

My intention is a point by point review of libertarian deception in action.

(please click on image for sharp view)

Jim Steele writes: "Politicians from all sides manufacture "crises" and "demons" to promote their agendas superficially designed to fight those crises."
Okay, no arguing that.  So far so good.
"In his book The Demon Haunted World," Carl Sagan famously published his Scientific Baloney Detection Kit, a "do and don’t" list to guide honest scientific inquiry." 
Wait a minute.  How did we get from “Politicians” to “Scientific Inquiry” via a book written for laypeople?

In the book Sagan “aims to explain the scientific method to laypeople, and to encourage people to learn critical and skeptical thinking. (WIKI)

Serious scientific inquiry is something that only the learned can do.  Of course, one can be self-taught.  But expert status in any field demands, learning, acquiring real knowledge, skills and experience.  

That is quite different from being a spectator trying to understand what the scientists and experts are talking about.
"Sadly, climate science has been too politicized. But Sagan's advice can help separate the politics from honest science regards claims of a "climate crisis.”"
Here again Steele strives to coalesce science with politics and public spin - that is deceptive nonsense.

Sagan’s advice is for us laypeople to develop some critical thinking skills in order to better recognize our thoughts and what to look for as we assess the various claims being tossed at us.

What drives scientists? - Richard Alley's Golden Nugget
Published on Aug 24, 2015
"The very foundation of scientific inquiry demands a vigorous skeptical challenge to every hypothesis. Several different hypotheses can explain the same phenomena. Anyone, scientist or layperson, can make assertions and models." 
No Jim.  Not anyone can make assertions about climate models and other complex aspects of climate science.  It may work in that Hollywood world so many seem to be inhabiting, but not in the real physical world that we depend on for our life support systems.

Beyond that, here again Jim tries to imply that our dysfunctional social media and news networks are the same as the Halls Of Science.  It’s childish projection. 

Your average Earth scientist really is different from your profits is everything crowd!  Otherwise, they’d be there.

The world of science is something very different.  

And no it is not a democracy, everyone doesn’t get a vote.  One must learn and prove their worth by the quality and accuracy of their work.  Scientists are in competition with other informed skeptical experts and peers who are constantly looking over their shoulders and checking their work for errors. 
"But claims are not reliable science until rigorously tested and well vetted." 
Of course not, but it takes experts to test and vet the work of experts, not wannabe dilettantes.  

Interestingly every climate science “fail” has been brought to the public’s attention through the scientific community and its ongoing public debate that gets covered by a few competent reporters and then discussed among a larger lay audience.  
"Based on this understanding, our oldest scientific society, the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural knowledge that Sir Isaac Newton once presided over, made "Nullius En Verba" its motto. It means, 'take no one's word for it."'" 
A while back I had cause to research the term and reached out to a few academics I know and received one response in particular worth sharing.

There have been many attempts to produce a satisfactory translation of the ‘Nullius in verba’ motto. Other contenders have been ‘Not by words alone’, or ‘Take nothing on authority’. None are entirely satisfactory.

Now I quite take your point when you say that: ‘we can’t prove everything to ourselves, I should be able to trust experts and their informed interpretation of the evidence’.  Yes, you can trust the experts. 

Bear in mind that the motto isn’t intended for you and I – it is the motto of the Royal Society. 

The Society’s Fellows are scientists, precisely the people who do prove things to themselves, their peers (and eventually to the rest of us). When the original natural philosophers who created the Society chose this motto, they were not thinking of a wider public, but only their fellow-scientists within the organization, eg the people conducting and interpreting experiments.

Naturally, the motto doesn’t apply to climate science contrarians either. 

Unless they do good science, publish a lot of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals and get elected Fellows of the Royal Society. Which would seem unlikely.  
"We are all naturally blinded by our beliefs." 
I can’t relate to that mindset one bit!  

I am not blinded by my beliefs, I embrace intellectual challenge and I’ve learned that being caught out on mistakes is a fantastic learning tool, not mortal slashes to my ego.  

I know life is about absorbing new information every day and allowing that to form my beliefs.

This is what the libertarian types simply can’t seem to comprehend - that the beauty of learning and better understanding our planet and her story and deep time is worth more than riches to many people.

So, of course, libertarians think everyone’s possessed with their own conniving, opportunistic, underhanded, greed driven tendencies.

We have no time for that poison!  Mistakes are for learning!

For us, we who die with the most relations, experiences, memories and knowledge win.
"To overcome our biases and strive for a greater scientific myth, our discussions will be well served if guided by Sagan's principles. Below I paraphrase the most pertinent points in Sagan's Scientific Baloney Detection Kit. (I add my comments in parentheses.) "
Seems to me a splendid opportunity to learn something. Though this next chapter will have to wait a couple days. 

We The People of the United States have a moral, ethical right - along with a pragmatic need - to learn what scientists have learned about this planet's biosphere and climate engine without constant dishonest crossfire.    
We should not tolerate serious scientists constantly being drown out by amoral, ruthless and frankly ignorant arguments - that an astoundingly ruthless GOP PR factory repeats over and over again, without ever learning a damned thing from the evidence in front of us. 

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