“Reasonable” People

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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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314 Responses

  1. I’d like to attack, if I may use that term, the premise. The two questions were hardly either intelligent or scientific. Lack of clarity was quite evident. So I’ve added my responses here.

    #1. Which evolution?

    a. Evolution + Naturalism?

    b. The evolutionary model in general?
    Which one?
    b.1. Adaptationism
    b.2. Mayr’s synthesis
    b.3. Gould/Eldrige P.E.
    b.4. Classic neo-darwinism (genetics driven)
    b.5. Modern neo-darwinism (genetics + adaptation)

    c. That there are genetic changes taking place all the time.

    IOW — the question is malformed because it is too broad to be answered with any precision.

    #2. Why 30 years? Lots of things happen in a period so short. This amounts to a classic too-small-sample logical fallacy.
    Some GW advocated go back to the industrial revolution as the source for today’s change. Others might even go back 10K to human expansion after the last ice age to show constant warming. In the mean time the anti-science GW/climate change has recently argued away the well-document Little Ice Age from 1200-1850. Bad models lead to silly and ahistorical results.

    Hope this helps.Report

    • I think this well proves the point I’m making here – even those of us who claim to accept the scientific consensus don’t really have much of an understanding what that consensus actually means. We’re just trusting those we find most trustworthy for whatever reason.Report

      • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        All it proves is that if you throw enough rhetorical chaff at an issue, you can obscure any argument. What Colin has done is just an example of how, without actually taking a viewpoint, you can bring in enough irrelevant factors to make the debate seem more complex than it really is. Blunt-spoken people would call it evading the question.Report

        • It’s not an issue of making the scientific debate seem more complex than it actually is; it’s an issue of showing that the only people who really understand the scientific debate are, well, scientists. The rest of us are just putting our trust in those scientists. I feel pretty comfortable in doing that, and it’s the safest bet I can think of. But if someone else puts their trust in their religious beliefs and feels just as safe doing so, then I don’t see how that makes them any less rational than me.

          Now if they want to try to force ID to be taught in Science class or to restrict the teaching of evolution in Science class, then they should be fought tooth and nail. ID belongs in a philosophy class, and evolution is clearly the best theory that science has to offer and is a cornerstone of modern biology. But if they go to Science class, learn evolution, and then learn ID in philosophy class, and then learn creationism in Sunday School, and decide they don’t believe in evolution? Oh well.Report

          • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Mark, you do realize that it is possible to educate yourself? There are such things as libraries. If you can’t be bothered to get a handle on the issues, it’s pretty spineless to throw up your hands and simply assign everything to experts and belief. You have time to write posts and comments here – what stops you from actually investigating the things you talk about?Report

            • Like most people, I can think of a million other things that are more important for me to do, and any number of other things that are more valuable for me to read up on, than the schools of thought within science on the specifics of evolutionary theory. It is enough for me to know that there is a general consensus amongst scientists that evolution is real and sits as a cornerstone of biology; and if I believed otherwise, I’m pretty sure I’d be none the worse for wear.Report

              • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Could you specify those million things? I’d hate to think you were exaggerating or being cavalier with those who so humbly read your magnificent posts.Report

              • I’d be happy to. Unfortunately, I can think of a million and one things that are higher priorities.

                Nor do I view pointing this out as terribly cavalier when the entire point of this post is that people don’t have time to research for themselves the details of every single issue that gets thrust into the public sphere for them to debate.Report

              • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                But you do have time. You post here, you write comments, you even devote hours to responding to those who ask what stops you from educating yourself. No-one says you have to know every detail, after all. Is it so unreasonable to ask you to form an educated opinion, rather than simply opining?Report

              • “Is it so unreasonable to ask you to form an educated opinion, rather than simply opining?”

                I didn’t realize I was trying to opine as to the state of evolutionary theory. I was asked whether I believed in evolution; oddly, I do not need to do any research to discern whether I believe in evolution. And, well, I do. I thought I was trying instead to opine, during an abnormally slow day of work, on the notion that certain beliefs are a meaningful marker for whether one is a “reasonable person.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

                This is the wacky thing, General.

                It seems that there is a lot of burden of proof shifting in practice.

                If someone says “I don’t know that we can necessarily blame the entirety of GW on AGW” and then they start throwing out some bullshit about “how Greenland got its name” or shit like that, you get to dig and dig and dig into whether the person saying such things has the justification to say such things.

                If someone says “Humans are causing AGW and if we don’t do something about it, CHILDREN WILL DIE!!!”, well… we don’t have to question that person. We don’t have to ask if they are parroting their betters or if they have done the requisite reading. We don’t have to ask if they studied this, formed an educated opinion, or are just pulling things out of their ass.

                Why do you think that is, General?Report

              • Avatar Simon K in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

                It depends who “we” are, doesn’t it? Personally it drives me equally crazy when someone does the “we’re all going to DIE” thing as when someone does the “there is no problem” thing.Report

              • @ Jaybird

                > Why do you think that is, General?

                I’m guessing (by the remainder of his commentary) that his answer would be “Economics isn’t a real field of study” or some other nonsense.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

                It’s just irritating that he’s obviously arguing from a position of bad faith, that’s all.

                He’s got a name that is, of course, intended to incite some kind of reaction (and he gets to laugh if he gets said reaction or stand in judgment if he doesn’t), he’s presented himself as one kind of poster at various points in the thread but lying is difficult to do for a prolonged period of time and so his real viewpoints leak out until he’s asking things that, I suspect, really reflect who he is.

                And, of course, seems to prefer the conversations where he gets to ask the questions and the burden of proof is on the other person to the conversations where we ask him questions that he is expected to answer somewhat honestly.

                It’s not terribly rewarding, is what I’m saying.Report

              • Avatar Simon K in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

                Yes, there’s a word for that … Something you shouldn’t feed … Like those little furry things from “Gremlins” … Can’t remember it now.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

                Well, the fact that his real opinions leak through seem to indicate that more is going on than mere trolling.

                It’d be easy to wave him away if he was obviously a character… but he actually stopped being a character and started engaging (if only for a few minutes).

                *THAT* is something worth feeding, no?Report

              • Allow me to make a prediction. Being the pessimist that I am, I believe that global climate change is actually going to be worse than currently predicted, and that barring some major engineering marvels we’re going to be stuck in a very poor situation, plunked down on this much less hospitable rock.

                Someone rational, studying the political climate, would actually planning for this as a likelihood, so hopefully they would be ready at that point.

                Some time in the next 40 years or so, someone is going to come up to someone like me and insist that even though they’ve lived fairly reasonable lives, and done more than most people do who claim to be environmentalists, and argued against climate deniers and voted for green legislation whenever I could… that it’s really necessary for them to give up the nice little 10 acres for the good of everyone else, including the idiots who currently make pious statements about saving the earth while doing precisely zero to do to so… even though he planned for the crisis and they did not.

                At which point, his crotchety 80-year-old ass is going to probably have to engage in actual violence, and everyone will cluck their tongues and say, “He must have been some sort of reactionary conservative!”Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

                Civilization IV takes up a lot of my time.
                All the mp3’s I’ve downloaded.
                Looking for where I put my coffee cup.
                Things like that.Report

      • What GeneralNBForrest does not understand is that, per #1, the term “evolution” is not a simple term and is itself vague and requiring clarification. It encompasses a myriad of options that cannot be reduced to a simple yes/no. Even within the community of evolutionists the multiple model question is a serious one. You can see that in the reviews of and responses to last year’s Fodor/Piatelli-Palmarini book What Darwin Got Wrong. It doesn’t take a “creationist” to see the issue.Report

        • Avatar Simon K in reply to Collin Brendemuehl says:

          No. The term “evolution”, as used by biologists means something that is not in dispute. There are arguments within biology as to the details, but “evolution” as such has a well defined meaning – Common descent with modification and selection.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Simon K says:

            The parallel with Christianity is nearly exact. The Baptists are Christians, and so are the Episcopalians. People who favor Gould are evolutionists, and so are those who disagree with him. They have their differences, but the areas of similarity are analytically useful all the same.Report

            • But can they all be correct? If Gould is correct, then Darwin is wrong. If Darwin is correct the Fodor is wrong. And if Mayr is correct then Fodor, Darwin, and Gould are all wrong. And if they are wrong then they may be “evolutionists” but they would also have been practicing bad science, which is not something that, at least in the rhetoric, evolutionists would accept. But it appears that many are willing to do so.
              Likewise the term “Christian” can be used (1) broadly, as was evolution, to describe the claim but also (2) specifically to clarify the position on redemption. (I’m certain that there are others, such as the Amish cultural application of the term.) Using a subset of options and following the evolution example, either Calvin is correct or the Pope is correct. Both cannot be correct (though both may be partly correct and partly in error to varying degrees) and the one who is wrong is *not* Christian, at least not properly.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Collin Brendemuehl says:

                if they are wrong then they may be “evolutionists” but they would also have been practicing bad science

                Not so. Science progresses by proposing explanations that seem to work, and then knocking them down. Getting your earnest explanation knocked down is just one part of being a scientist.Report

              • Also, it’s very likely that in an absolute sense, they’re all wrong. But still partially right. The trick is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.Report

              • Avatar David Cheatham in reply to Collin Brendemuehl says:

                Yeah, and if Einstein is correct Newton is wrong. But _physics_ is correct. The idea that there are actual laws that govern the movement of stuff is correct, and the idea that the FSM pulls things to earth with his noodly appendages is not something that should be taught, or even _mentioned_, in school. (I’m not even a fan of the ‘teach ID in philosophy class’ concept. ID is not a ‘philosophy’. Christianity might be, but not the creation myth part of it.)

                There are accepted general theories in science, and there are obscure corner case theories debating aspect of those, which don’t matter in general education because no one gets anywhere close to them. No one cares about different sorts of evolutionary theories, just like no one care that the formula you’re using to calculate motion stops working right at 9/10th the speed of light. No high schooler is going to deal with that. Heck, actual engineers don’t deal with that 99.9999% of the time.

                Public schools teach a simplification of everything, and don’t need to figure to which evolutionary theory is correct, anymore than they need to figure out whether Einstein or Newton is right….they’re nowhere at the level of that actually making a difference.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to David Cheatham says:

                Yeah, and if Einstein is correct Newton is wrong.

                Rather, Newton’s physics is incomplete in that it doesn’t apply to all situations. That will, I boldly predict, be true of all scientific theories as long as there are people to create them.Report

              • Avatar David Cheatham in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                But, isn’t ‘All theories will be incomplete as long as there are people to create them’ itself a theory, and hence, according to itself, not complete?

                Where’s Godel when you need him? 😉Report

              • Complete, Concise, Correct.

                Pick two.Report

          • And that is 1 definition. But your appeal to “selection” appears to take the adaptationist route. Many reject that option. Your definition is also open as to what causes modification. This is the misdirection used in HS and undergrad science. Terms employed in an overgeneralized fashion lead students to accept what may not be true.Report

            • Avatar Simon K in reply to Collin Brendemuehl says:

              Again, no. That’s the definition – in biological circles its called the neo-Darwinian synthesis, and its the basis of almost all modern biology. Gould, Dawkins, and Mayr’s theories all fit within it – they’ve proposed various mechanisms of selection and modification, but the selection and modification are still there. Their individual theories may be wrong, but the synthetic theory itself is still true as far as we can tell. Darwin’s theory as such does not fit within it because he did not propose any mechanism for modification because he did not know about genes, and indeed he knew about and worried about this flaw in his theory. Darwin as such is an important precursor to the modern theory but it is not the modern theory.

              There is no serious dispute about the role of selection in the theory. If there’s no selection, I’d go so far as to say the whole edifice actually collapses. But again, there is no serious dispute that there is in fact selection.Report

        • Avatar Daulnay in reply to Collin Brendemuehl says:

          Really, the basics of evolution are completely accepted in the (biological) scientific community. The evidence for it is overwhelming, and has been for a while. The things you are describing are the normal workings of science: there are some parts of a theory that are not quite correct or are incomplete, so those parts of the theory are disputed, researched, and finally revised. There is no serious doubt about whether or not evolution occurs or whether it’s responsible for the diversity of life on the planet.

          As for educating yourself, it really doesn’t take much to come up to speed. May I recommend a clear and amusing book, that will give you the tools to distinguish between ‘experts’? You should be able to winnow scientist from charlatan after reading it, and not have to rely on your ‘ideological compatriots’. The book is Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks by Ben Goldacre.Report

          • What you indicate is that you believe the conflicts to be immaterial. But if, as Fodor/P-P indicated very recently, scientists do not know *how* evolution works, what makes you think that any one of the models is correct? And if none of them is functional, then why should the assumption of common descent be held as correct if it is evidentially dysfunctional? For instance, Jerry Coyne’s argument in Why Evolution is True frequently jump between the presuppositional approach and the evidential approach because he has no way to take the evidence to where it needs to go. It is the most humorous “science” book that I’ve ever read. So please do not give broad, sweeping appeals to evidence. Even the experts, like Coyne and Fodor, are not able to accomplish what such broad remarks would proclaim.Report

            • Avatar Simon K in reply to Collin Brendemuehl says:

              Fodor is not an expert. He’s a philosopher who has a weird axe to grind with evolutionary theory and has written multiple books with different co-authors telling people about it. In spite of having read his articles, I can’t quite work out what his problem actually is, its therefore quite hard to explain why he’s wrong. Nonetheless, for what its worth, his work has no influence within biology.

              Unfortunately there is a well-establish market for books critical of evolutionary theory which means that whenever there is any kind of half-sensible-sounding criticism of the synthetic theory, some publisher will pick it up and get a book written about it. This creates the impression that there are serious disputes about the basic facts when in fact there are none. There are serious disputes (eg. Gould vs Dawkins a while back) that nonetheless are completely within the framework of the over-arching theory, and there are crackpots. Fodor is a crackpot.

              As for jumping between the “presuppositional approach” and the “evidential approach”, I’m not sure precisely what you mean, but I think what you’re saying is that they jump between saying what would happen if the theory were true, and saying what does in fact happen. This is what science does – in the end you want the two to match up, right? Since we can’t ever have evidence of what happens in every possible conceivable case, we consider a theory to be “true” if we know what would have to happen for it to be false, we’ve tested a whole bunch of cases, and we’ve thus far not found something that looks like that.

              In the specific case of modern evolutionary theory, we know what a failure would look like – if we were to find fossil humans in Jurassic strata, that would be a failure. If we were to subject a mico-organism to selection pressure and it were not to adapt, that would be a failure. If were were to find grossly mal-adaptive changes in the fossil record persisting over long periods of time, that would be a failure. None of these things has in fact occurred. We never will be able to lay out a perfect tree of life going all the way back to abiogenesis because the fossil record isn’t good enough, and thanks to the extremely long timescales on which these things operate we may never be able to observe a major adaptation in action. But these things are not the appropriate test of a scientific theory – the appropriate test is has it failed on anything? It has not.Report

    • Avatar gene108 in reply to Collin Brendemuehl says:

      I think the broader point DougJ makes is the anti-evolution crowd isn’t looking at the internal debates within evolution, which you brought up.

      The more anti-scientific folks believe the Earth is 6,000 years old and Noah and his family had pet dinosaurs before the Flood wiped them out.

      You get various degrees of unscientific reasons for not wanting to accept the science behind evolution, but in the end it really comes down to a group of people wanting to impose their religious beliefs in place of science. I think that’s one reason creationism gets tossed out as an alternative explanation to evolution, even though there’s no scientific way to test creationism.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to gene108 says:

        Good post. I’m not sure evolution and AGW are exactly peas in the same pod for their skeptics, although it’s a delight for the other side to lump “climate denialism” in with fundamentalist religious belief in creationism.

        What they do have in common is a distrust of the academy, which—as we all know—is not the least bit ideological, let alone politicized.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/science/08tier.html

        http://www.ucsusa.org/Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to tom van dyke says:

          I was thinking the same thing.
          I know some people that like to sit around and watch Glenn Beck. Not my cup of tea, but they trust him, and I believe that’s mainly because they find other resources to be less trustworthy.
          One of those people is about 3 years away from retirement at the post office and owns about 14 or so rental houses, including a few apartment buildings.
          I find him to be a very reasonable and down-to-earth type of guy. Nothing spooky at all about him, other than the fact that, like some 3 million other people, he likes to watch Glenn Beck.
          I like to read E.R. Eddison, where a lot of people find his prose to be needlessly thick. So what?Report

          • Avatar Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

            And to hammer in the nail…
            How do you expect this fellow down at the post office to feel about it when he hears himself described as “unreasonable?”
            Who exactly is it that he would trust the more after having heard such a thing?
            Even the most doltish of people prefer to consider themselves “reasonable.”
            That is, bringing the issue of reasonableness into the dialogue ensures less reasonableness as the outcome.
            For all practical purposes, it appears to be entirely unreasonable to discuss the issue of the reasonableness of others.

            It’s like that thing about “tolerance” being predilection to agree whole-heartedly and without reservation with the nuttiest fruitcake in the room.
            Why then would “tolerance” be a desirable thing?
            If “reasonableness” is a weapon to denigrate this man, why on Earth should he desire it?

            But frankly, from the comments in this thread, I see more than a fair measure of fruitful discussion.
            Commendations to the League.Report

  2. Avatar Ken says:

    I think we can agree that, if nothing else, citing to or linking me is a reliable indicia of reasonableness.Report

  3. Avatar Dan says:

    I think the response her at OG has been far more thoughtful that the glib original question merited.

    To your (and Ken’s) point, I fall into the category of anthropogenic global warming skeptics. As Ken notes in his post, for most of us belief in AGW is from deference to presumed authority. I don’t know how to interpret climate data, and honestly have neither the time nor inclination to bone up enough to have a truly informed opinion. On the other hand, as luck would have it, my father is both a brilliant scientist and skeptical about AGW for a variety of reasons. As I am personally quite well acquainted with his intelligence and scientific bona fides, his authority in this area happens to hold far more weight than the broad scientific consensus on the other side.

    Does this make me unreasonable? Should all of my opinions be summarily discarded, despite probably being largely congruent with DougJ’s? Do I offer a disclaimer to people seeking my professional advice that they should take what I have to say with a grain of salt, what with my AGW skepticism?Report

    • Avatar Ross in reply to Dan says:

      Dan, he last time I thought that my Daddy was omniscient was when I was 10 years old. Many people mature and gain wisdom as they age.Report

      • Avatar Dan in reply to Ross says:

        You can’t possibly be serious with this comment.

        There is a vast gulf between “my daddy is omniscient” and “my father is a scientist I happen to respect, given that he is the world authority in his field.” If respect for the professional accomplishments of my very accomplished father seems a lack of maturity and wisdom to you, then perhaps you have a rather skewed perspective.Report

        • Avatar Barry in reply to Dan says:

          And his field is what?Report

          • Avatar Dan in reply to Barry says:

            His field is sufficiently intellectually rigorous as to convince me of his qualifications to pronounce on the issue.

            Look, Barry. I don’t expect you or Ross or anyone else to be swayed by my father’s opinion. I am a first name on a comment page, and he is my anonymous father whose scientific credentials are sufficient to make me take his viewpoint seriously. I’m not especially interested in getting into a protracted battle about how awesome my dad is with various similarly first-named commenters. My point is not that my father is such a Super Genius that everyone should listen to what I say he says. Rather, that knowing him as I do, I am sufficiently impressed by his viewpoint to take it seriously, and value it more than a faceless mass of exerts. Further, this does not strike me as inherently unreasonable.

            Perhaps you think my father must be a slavering moron, and I even more of one for taking his flagrant idiocy seriously. Somehow, this doesn’t particularly bother me.Report

            • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Dan says:

              I undestood what you said Dan, and it is reasonable.Report

            • Avatar LT in reply to Dan says:

              HAAAAAAAAA ha ha ha ha I’m falling over here.

              “His field is sufficiently intellectually rigorous as to convince me of his qualifications to pronounce on the issue.”

              In other words, “I’m not going to tell you because it would make everything I just wrote so obviously stupid. Jesus. That’s funny.Report

              • Avatar Dan in reply to LT says:

                Alternately, one could intrepret it as “I am not sufficiently concerned with the opinions of complete strangers as to want to display my father’s CV for their approval.”Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Dan says:

                I so want to comment here but I can’t write a pithy comment that passes quality control.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                I did laugh out loud; but really, that one is too true to be funny.
                Still laughing though.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Dan says:

                Ah, the argument from ill-defined authority.Report

              • Avatar LT in reply to Dan says:

                Telling us what field of science his father practices would be giving him away somehow? That’s just so fishing dumb.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to LT says:

                Not everyone blogs anonymously on the Internet, “LT”.Report

              • Avatar LT in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                I’m not anonymous – my LT goes to my blog, where you can find out what LT stands for and who I am – and if Dan’s identity is known, then anyone could also find his father’s, which brings us full circle to the stupidity of his first claim, and his second.Report

              • There’s a difference between pseudoanonymity and anonymity.

                If you Google my name, you’ll find me here and at Schneier’s blog as well as my own blog and my Caltech web page. Also several other Pat Cahalans, two of which have a lot of search overlap with me so they’re hard to parse out, but you could find out almost whatever you want about me with no effort.

                If I google “LT”, I’m probably not going to find you. If I know your actual name, and I google *that*, I still might not find your blog, and if I did I still might not find your posts here or at BJ or wherever else you blog.

                Saying, “Somebody can figure out who you are” is different from “Anybody can easily find out everything you’ve ever said on the Internet.”

                Does that explanation assist you in removing the “stupid” label?Report

              • Avatar LT in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                What a bunch off fucking claptrap.

                I’m not anonymous. Do you get this, or do I need to come over and say it to you slow? You don’t need to google “LT.” All you need to do is click on my “LT” right here above this or any otter of my comments. It will take you to my blog, which has my real name on it. A minor amount of sleuthing, for anyone so bored, could find out much more. This makes your comment to me – in regards to me – wrong, and silly.

                In regards to Dan, well, it’s silly, and dumb. You protected his hilarious defense of not answering the entirely reasonable question as to us what scientific field his father practices by saying he’s not anonymous, then – I don’t know. You wrote that nonsense.Report

              • If you don’t understand what I wrote, and why it wasn’t meant to illustrate *you*, but rather *other people*’s approach to their own anonymity and/or privacy on the web, then okay, never mind.Report

              • Avatar Barry in reply to Dan says:

                No, because you wouldn’t have had to post your father’s CV (which should be on his website anyway – those are things to be disseminated).

                And ‘His field is sufficiently intellectually rigorous as to convince me of his qualifications to pronounce on the issue’ is rather weak; there are a whole host of fields which are intellectually rigorous which would afford such a person absolutely no qualifications to speak on this subject.Report

              • Avatar Dan in reply to Barry says:

                I wrote that in haste, and it was imprecise in an unhelpful way. (As opposed to being imprecise in a helpful way, I suppose.) By this time, the topic of my father, his beliefs, my persuasion thereto, etc cannot possibly be of any further interest to anyone.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Dan says:

                Let’s presume your father has good reasons to doubt the conclusions of AGW as he understands them. Let’s stipulate to some oversimplification which would lead him and every other informed person to deny the conclusions of AGW.

                Yet consider: the chief argument of AGW cannot be gainsaid; our continued addition of calories via the burning of fossil fuel is not without consequences. The net acidification of the oceans and freshwater lakes is one such undeniable consequence.

                You may well argue a large volcanic eruption might also acidify the oceans and lakes. But as the oceans approach their maximum ability to absorb more carbon dioxide, the pH balance is already disturbing the ability of crustaceans to form shells, including the great mass of phytoplankton and tiny aquatic life forms.

                Long ago, the oceans were more acidic. The only lifeforms which thrived in those seas were the cyanobacteria: it was they who gave the earth the free oxygen we breathe. They are making their reappearance in a grand way in the toxic blooms and we are setting the stage for them. They ruled the world for well over 11 hours of the 12 hour clock of life.

                It little matters what anyone believes or does not believe about AGW. When the oceans reach their maximum carrying capacity for carbonic acid, life will crash. That much is beyond dispute.Report

            • Avatar Barry Deutsch in reply to Dan says:

              Rather, that knowing him as I do, I am sufficiently impressed by his viewpoint to take it seriously, and value it more than a faceless mass of exerts. Further, this does not strike me as inherently unreasonable.

              Why not?

              I mean, either you think your father is infallible, or you think he can make mistakes. If you think he’s infallible, that’s unreasonable.

              Assuming you believe that he’s fallible (and obviously you do), then you have to accept that there are times when it’s reasonable to consider the possibility that your father is mistaken about something. I think it’s reasonable to say that when one smart non-expert (I’m assuming your father’s field isn’t climatology) is in disagreement with the large majority of experts, one ought to seriously allow for (and if you have time, investigate) the possibility that the smart non-expert is in this one instance mistaken.

              Nothing about this assumes that your father is a slavering moron. I do assume, however, that even brilliantly smart people (as your father may well be) can be mistaken at times. And that a single smart non-expert is perhaps more likely to be mistaken than the near-consensus of experts in a scientific field. This is true even if the single smart non-expert is someone I know and trust completely, since even people I trust are capable of error.

              Is that unreasonable?Report

              • Avatar Dan in reply to Barry Deutsch says:

                You make some good points (which are otherwise a bit thin on the ground just now). Let me clarify a bit.

                It’s not merely that I respect my father as a scientist. He is not a climate scientist, as it happens. However, he has taken an intense interest in the subject of AGW, and has gone a lot of independent research on the topic. He has, on numerous occasions, explained to me in detail why he believes there to be a significant observer bias in the AGW data collection, and an ideological skew to the scientific consensus. If he were to hold forth on, say, cognitive neuroscience I would probably smile politely and ignore him. In this case, and knowing how often scientific consensus within my own field has been proven wrong, I am adequately convinced by his POV to be agnostic on AGW.

                Perhaps I erred when I said it was my father whose opinion I respected, instead of just saying “some scientist I know well.” Some of the more forensically challenged commenters seem to think I am taking his word for things because he bought me an Optimus Prime toy when I was nine.Report

              • Avatar Jamey in reply to Dan says:

                You’re giving your dad greater credence because he’s your dad. What’s so hard to admit about that? Further, “some scientist I know well” is just as unverifiable a source, so I fail to understand how shifting to that position of anonymous support for an already badly-supported idea advances your case.

                Also: My dad’s Batman; he’s also a scientist. He says Global Warming is real–only he, too, calls it “AGW,” so he can sound like he knows F-A.

                Puh-leez!Report

              • Avatar Barry Deutsch in reply to Dan says:

                Thanks for your response.

                It seems to me that you’re now saying that you’re an AGW agnostic because 1) You’ve heard arguments in favor of AGW agnosticism that you found persuasive, and 2) the arguments came from someone whose judgment in this matter you have reason to believe is credible.

                Stated generically like that, I have to agree with you. Being convinced by persuasive arguments from a credible source is, on its face, reasonable.

                Of course, that’s the situation stripped of all particulars (which is, as I understand it, your point). But when it comes to assessing reasonableness, the particulars are often important.

                It’s okay that we can’t do that in this case — you’re under no obligation to tell us more about your Dad, or (much more importantly) to impart his argument to us — but the lack of particulars leaves us with no real way to ascertain the reasonableness of your position.Report

              • Avatar Dan in reply to Barry Deutsch says:

                I appreciate that you seem to have taken my point, and concur that the particulars do play an important role in assessing the reasonableness of my stance.

                My reticence when it comes to giving more particulars about Dear Old Dad isn’t because I don’t think they would help my case (were I actually trying to make one, instead of a broader point about reasonable dissent from mainstream scientific consensus), but rather I don’t like to be bullied by juvenile, anonymous commenters who say nasty, mindless things and expect people to fall all over themselves trying to refute them. LT thinks I’m an idiot, and apparently also thinks by saying so I will have my widdle feewings hurt and some kind of point will be scored. In reality, it’s not important enough for me to convince the likes of LT et al of anything to make me accede to their demands.Report

    • Avatar Lihtox in reply to Dan says:

      I think a reasonable person can doubt AGW, for any number of reasons. But I do think it’s unreasonable to say that it’s impossible for it to be correct: that is, even critics of AGW should at least admit that there is some small probability (10% maybe?) that humans are affecting the Earth’s climate in a deleterious manner.
      Now, in any other scenario, a disaster with a 10% probability of occurring would be treated very seriously indeed. We all take our shoes off at the airport because of much worse odds than that. If there’s a chance that we are causing climate change, and that we can reverse the effects and put off a potential disaster, shouldn’t we do it, just in case? OK, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis, and there are some things we might do which would be great for the environment but terrible for the economy. But we can’t even have that discussion, because we’re so worried about trying to figure out who is RIGHT. Certainty is a luxury we can’t always afford.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Lihtox says:

        “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

        This rationale has been used before, to less than desirable effect.

        Also, doesn’t this leave out the closely related question of how easily one believes humans will be able to adapt to a hypothetically warmed climate?Report

      • Avatar Mart in reply to Lihtox says:

        Peak oil is an issue that is at least as important to me as the consequences of AGW. Don’t we need to go green and fast if we are to survive the collapse of oil supplies while demand grows? Talk about calamity. Wiki leaks cable recently said Saudi reserves greatly overstated. Can we at least agree on the fact of peak oil requires a response even if we disagree on AWG?Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to Mart says:

          No.
          The whole peak oil concept is unreasonable.
          It begins with a reasonable premise– There is a finite amount of oil in the ground– and then goes on to unreasonable assumptions, such as the existing level of technology in exploration, exploitation, and efficiency of use are the height of technology to be had.
          About every five years or so, I read about how the new biggest oilfield in the world has just been discovered. The last time, it was deep-sea drilling off the coast of Brazil. Who knows where it will be next time.
          Supply and demand work together, and I don’t understand why the prophets of the peak oil doomsday scenario can’t comprehend the most basic of economic principles.
          The very last drop of oil on Earth is likely to remain in the ground.Report

    • Avatar Rusty in reply to Dan says:

      LMAO! I’m outta here. This site took a big leap downward when Freddie left. Now it’s completely irrelevant. Enjoy your little circle jerks, guys.Report

    • Avatar Aaron W in reply to Dan says:

      I don’t think that you’re necessarily unreasonable to doubt the consensus on AGW. But I think you may be making a fallacious argument from authority. Your father may be a brilliant scientist, but what kind of scientist is he? Is he a climatologist? An atmospheric chemist? A geophysicist? I happen to be an atmospheric scientist, but that doesn’t mean I could tell you anything most people don’t know about evolution by natural selection.Report

      • Avatar LT in reply to Aaron W says:

        You mean all you scientists aren’t like wicked smart about EVERYTHING like his daddy?????Report

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Aaron W says:

        I happen to know a bit about Dan and who he’s talking about, and he is in fact not drinking Kool-Aid here.

        I happen to disagree with the person in question, mostly because I know a substantial number of other people whom I also regard as informed experts who disagree with his conclusions, but he does pass the smell test as “somebody who has more than passing familiarity with the field.”Report

      • Avatar Dan in reply to Aaron W says:

        Aaron, he works in an energy-related field. Let me, one last time, clarify my point, then I’m calling it a night. As it happens, my father is 1) a scientist, and 2) someone who has investigated AGW and finds the science lacking. Knowing him, I am personally convinced there is reason to be skeptical, and I am not behaving in an inherently unreasonable manner for thinking thusly.

        I am refraining from holding forth on my father’s credentials because they’re kind of beside the point I am trying to make. I don’t actually care if anyone else buys my viewpoint, as I’m not actually trying to convince anyone. Merely to make a point about how reasonable people could reach differing conclusions in the face of a broad consensus.Report

        • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Dan says:

          Have no doubts, honorable Dan, because truly, in this case, “Father Knows Best”! I’m going to give a friend of mine a wagon for his birthday–a wagon with four square wheels to demonstrate the idiocy of AGW.Report

    • Avatar brantl in reply to Dan says:

      ” On the other hand, as luck would have it, my father is both a brilliant scientist and skeptical about AGW for a variety of reasons. ” Since there are several thousand people who are accredited climate scientists , who are actually qualified to judge the data that your father is “skeptical” of, that really does make both of you idiots.Report

      • Avatar Heidegger in reply to brantl says:

        Hey, are you the guys on those Cap One commercials, you know, the barbarians–must have just pulled up shore to the League, waiting to use your cross bows, catapults, spears, swords…Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Heidegger says:

          That’s actually pretty astute.

          I don’t understand why now… and DougJ (and I presume the new faces are Balloon Juice commenters) are treating a number of people awfully poorly for reasons I can’t quite fathom.

          It reminds me of religious arguments more than anything else.Report

          • Avatar Annelid Gustator in reply to Jaybird says:

            I’m actually not recognizing a lot of Balloon Juice handles, here. Maybe, though.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Annelid Gustator says:

              At least one of them has already admitted in so many words to trolling here under an assumed name.

              Others could be here under assumed names as well, and not necessarily for underhanded reasons. A new name would be a good way to try to shed personal prejudices and/or prevent such prejudices from carrying over in the minds of the League’s readership. If anyone is doing this, they’re being pretty smart, I’d say.Report

    • Avatar The Raven in reply to Dan says:

      I’ll bet your father isn’t a climatologist, though. There’s a reason for that: the only climatologist who don’t believe in AGW are so rigid in their views that no evidence will convince them. Even Lindzen, finally, was persuaded, though he has major disputes with most climate scientists.

      Give it up, guy.

      I’m a corvid. We eat dead things.Report

    • Avatar worn in reply to Dan says:

      Dan –

      I am not sure I understand the underlying logic of your point. As I read the above, in the first part you seem to generally take umbrage to the idea of believing the pronouncements of scientists, obliquely making reference to the logical fallacy “Argument from Authority”.

      And then in the second part you turn around and state that your beliefs on this matter are in no small part based on the pronouncements of your father, that “his authority” holds more weight with you than the authorities you disdain in the first part.

      Perhaps you are making a point about a certain arbitrariness in what each of us choose* to believe? But really, I am a bit perplexed by this.

      *i.e., the starting point thereof…Report

  4. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    I’m sorry, Mark.

    This was just too much hemming and hawing. Too much qualification, not enough belief.

    You need to be more like the poster at Balloon Juice who said she knew global warming was a reality even without looking at the numbers. She could FEEL it.

    You’re a conservative, and we all denounce you!Report

  5. Avatar Will says:

    I am much too elegant a writer to be confused with one of your alter egos, Thompson.

    More seriously, good to see you back in the saddle.Report

  6. > Why would only an unreasonable person trust one’s
    > ideological compatriots (whom you know to have
    > expended far more effort into understanding a given
    > issue than you have) more than one trusts a group
    > of self-appointed experts whom one has never
    > encountered and who you know to have a vastly
    > different set of priorities than you?

    We need to get rid of the term “reasonable” here, or at least be a lot more careful how we’re using it. It’s coloring the issue, quite severely. Reason, as a mechanism, is perfectly valid in lots of contexts even when those contexts are opposed to each other.

    I can reason completely consistently in a theological framework and come to an opposite conclusion as someone else who is reasoning completely consistently in a differing theological framework. Our processes are logically correct, our dogmas are different. To claim that either participant in the debate is unreasonable is attempting to poison the well, unfairly.

    In mathematics, I can reason completely consistently in von Neumann–Bernays–Gödel set theory and come to a different conclusion from someone who is reasoning completely consistently in ZFC set theory with the Axiom of Choice. Our processes are logically correct, our axioms are different. To claim that one side is being “unreasonable” would… well, it’d subject you to a lot of ridicule, that’s for sure.

    What would be *unreasonable* would be to use the axioms or dogmas of one framework to assess other frameworks, and apply them inconsistently.

    If I believe that science is a bad framework for judging the accuracy of models describing the physical world because science claims that evolution occurs and my theology claims that it doesn’t, I then can’t turn around and start using an argument from science to explain something else. That’s not just “unreasonable”, that’s batshit crazy.

    In this specific example illustrated by the illustrious Mr. Thompson, speaking from a security trust model perspective, it is eminently more reasonable to trust someone who has demonstrated in-person trust than one who has not, at least *by default*. This is not only well established in the security field, but it’s blindingly obvious how it evolved as a good baseline trust mechanism.

    People will, by default, trust Bob the Local Buddy more than Alice the Distant Expert. Bob, by proximity, has more opportunities to demonstrate trustworthy action, and also possesses an immediate natural audit power: if Alice lies to me, there’s probably not much I can do about it. If Bob lies to me, I can punch Bob in the nose.

    So it’s “reasonable” to trust Bob more than Alice… again, *by default*.

    There are several misuses of “reasonable” that can crop up here, however. It is *not* reasonable to trust Alice less than Jim the Other Distant Expert, just because Jim claims to believe the same sorts of things that Bob does. That’s an inappropriate transitive trust relationship.

    It is likewise *not* reasonable to trust Alice when she says things with which Bob agrees, but then *not* trust Alice when she says things with which Bob *disagrees*. That’s likewise unreasonable transitive trust.

    Maybe I trust Bob. Maybe Bob says I ought to trust Alice, because Alice is an Expert according to some criteria. That’s reasonable. I trust Bob. I trust Bob to tell me what criteria are reasonable to qualify someone as an Expert (again, all by default).

    But in addition to Alice, there’s another thousand people who are Experts by the same criteria that Bob says make Alice an Expert… and all of *those* experts say Alice is full of baloney.

    If I don’t revisit my trust relationship with Bob, and whether or not I ought to continue to accept Bob’s assessment of trustworthiness on Expertism, I’m not being lazy, I’m being actually “unreasonable”, at least as far as a security trust model is concerned.Report

    • Avatar Modulo Myself in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

      People will, by default, trust Bob the Local Buddy more than Alice the Distant Expert. Bob, by proximity, has more opportunities to demonstrate trustworthy action, and also possesses an immediate natural audit power: if Alice lies to me, there’s probably not much I can do about it. If Bob lies to me, I can punch Bob in the nose.

      To make a huge generalization:

      Reductive thinking like this the antithesis of modernity. Liberals think people who live and behave and believe like this are fucking idiots, and they think this theory is self-justifying crap that has nothing to do with reality. It’s why liberals fought racism, homophobia, sexism, and anti-semitism while conservatives pretended that there was something intrinsically useful about any of the four, and it’s why now libertarians and conservatives or whatever the people here are pretend that there is an iota of utility or thought in climate change scepticism or some fucked-up indescribable form of creationism.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Modulo Myself says:

        Indeed, that is a huge generalization.Report

      • > Reductive thinking like this the antithesis of modernity.

        I don’t know if I would call it the “antithesis of modernity”. It is hardly a scientific approach, itself, agreed.

        However, it is also (cough, scientifically) the way that the human brain is wired to process trust relationships. And indeed, even many “modern” thinkers typically process a large number of their trust relationships this way, when you get to the nitty gritty. They define their communities of default trust differently, but the principle is the same.

        Put another way, I know a eminently respectable chemist who has done really high quality chemical work and processes chemistry research with the mind like a steel trap. This person also is a very ardent supporter of feng shui. Do we call them “reasonable”, or “unreasonable”?

        Or perhaps, ought we to take a more nuanced view of their reasonableness?Report

        • Avatar Modulo Myself in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

          Or perhaps, ought we to take a more nuanced view of their reasonableness?

          That’s the point. Who is the ‘local buddy’? Why trust this person? What trust the convention that says the local buddy was ever right in the first place? Maybe your real friend has never been met, found, or heard from yet, etc.

          Another generalization would be that the modernism is the idea that these supposedly age-old truisms melt away. That they were made of nothing in the first place, and that wiring, or what people are really like, has yet to be discovered.

          Of course, modernism was captivated by theories that there were truisms to be found, in Marx or in some form of political utopia, which made local buddies from other conventions, so what the hell.Report

        • Avatar Simon K in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

          The whole scientific process depends pretty fundamentally on trust relationships. The publication and peer review process is exactly that. Insiders inevitably have an advantage in getting their ideas accepted and pursued, and providing they’re insiders for good reasons, there’s nothing wrong with that.Report

        • Avatar Daulnay in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

          Scientists can be quite mistaken outside their area of expertise, as we all know, and sometimes in it as well. Trust the chemist when he talks chemistry. Trust much less when he talks genetics, nuclear physics, evolution, astronomy, geophysics, or especially social sciences. e.g., Linus Pauling and vitamin C.Report

    • Avatar DougJ in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

      “In mathematics, I can reason completely consistently in von Neumann–Bernays–Gödel set theory and come to a different conclusion from someone who is reasoning completely consistently in ZFC set theory with the Axiom of Choice. ”

      Not that different, NBG is a mild extension of ZFC.

      And you do know that the C in ZFC stands for choice, right?Report

    • I admit I largely anticipated this critique, but something about it just isn’t sitting right with me.

      Let me start with this:

      If I believe that science is a bad framework for judging the accuracy of models describing the physical world because science claims that evolution occurs and my theology claims that it doesn’t, I then can’t turn around and start using an argument from science to explain something else. That’s not just “unreasonable”, that’s batshit crazy.

      As you’ve formulated this here, I would probably agree. But I think there’s an important piece of nuance here that you’re missing, which I kind of get at in my footnote. I think even most evolution deniers would say that science is a generally good framework for explaining the physical world. But they would also say that their religious beliefs are a good framework for explaining the physical world; in other words, both frameworks are incomplete (I suspect a devout Christian would argue that religious doctrine is necessarily incomplete in order to permit Free Will). Quite often, probably even most often, these two frameworks will operate independent of each other. But what happens when they conflict? Clearly, one of them is imperfect, but how do you decide which one? Here, science is at a decided disadvantage because, as you suggested in the other thread, good science is avowedly imperfect, whereas monotheistic religious beliefs claim to be derived directly from a perfect being. I am no theologian by a longshot, but I seem to recall some widely-utilized theologies from the Middle Ages that basically take this view (and indeed, IIRC, provided the eventual foundation for the rebirth of science). I think it’s pretty rational, and provides a coherent basis for rejecting science whenever it conflicts with religious belief.

      It is *not* reasonable to trust Alice less than Jim the Other Distant Expert, just because Jim claims to believe the same sorts of things that Bob does. That’s an inappropriate transitive trust relationship.

      I would raise two alternative grounds of disagreement here (recognizing that you’re clearly more learned in this area, so I look forward to having my disagreements debunked): 1. Perhaps it is unreasonable to do this, but it is also perfectly natural and human to do so, and should not make one’s beliefs on other questions suspect – there is a human tendency to place greater trust in people with whom one has something at least superficially in common than those with whom one does not (I’m thinking here of tendencies towards racial self-segregation, for example); and 2. Common ideology is largely synonymous with “shared normative assumptions” and/or “shared unfalsifiable assumptions.” To the extent those assumptions can affect conclusions, then there is a rational basis for placing more trust in the purported expert who is closer to your ideological worldview.

      Maybe I trust Bob. Maybe Bob says I ought to trust Alice, because Alice is an Expert according to some criteria. That’s reasonable. I trust Bob. I trust Bob to tell me what criteria are reasonable to qualify someone as an Expert (again, all by default).

      But in addition to Alice, there’s another thousand people who are Experts by the same criteria that Bob says make Alice an Expert… and all of *those* experts say Alice is full of baloney.

      If I don’t revisit my trust relationship with Bob, and whether or not I ought to continue to accept Bob’s assessment of trustworthiness on Expertism, I’m not being lazy, I’m being actually “unreasonable”, at least as far as a security trust model is concerned.

      Here’s where things get really difficult in practice. How many people are going to get to the point of independently researching how many experts disagree with Alice? How many will do so if Alice’s views are repeatedly put on the same level as those experts by virtue of her going head-to-head on the cable news shows? How many, if they get that far, will be capable of confirming for themselves that those experts indeed have the same level of qualification as Alice? And what if, as seems increasingly to be the case, those experts largely share the same ideological predisposition and sets of assumptions? So, from a conservative’s perspective, you’ve got hundreds of liberal experts saying one thing and a handful of conservative experts (and maybe a stray liberal or two) saying another thing. Both sides’ positions might rationally appear to be politically compromised.Report

      • > Perhaps it is unreasonable to do this, but it is also
        > perfectly natural and human to do so

        Absolutely true. Human are, after all, imperfectly reasoning creatures.

        > and should not make one’s beliefs on other
        > questions suspect [snip]

        Well, within reason. If someone holds, consistently, several beliefs that are irrational, it’s also only human nature (indeed, fairly reasonable), to regard them as a suspect source of any information. Not to say that anything they say should be discarded completely out of hand, but some other verification ought to be considered baseline important to investigate their claims.

        Otherwise, you’re spending an awful lot of time investigating crazy.

        > Common ideology is largely synonymous with
        > “shared normative assumptions” and/or “shared
        > unfalsifiable assumptions.” To the extent those
        > assumptions can affect conclusions, then there
        > is a rational basis for placing more trust in the
        > purported expert who is closer to your
        > ideological worldview.

        Er… well, yes, but only to the extent of those shared normative assumptions. You can share an awful lot of assumptions with someone and still not share all of them. If their belief on a particular subject is predicated on an unshared assumption, you’ve got a pickle.

        You have to be somewhat honest with your evaluations with your trust agents.

        > How many people are going to get to the point of
        > independently researching how many experts
        > disagree with Alice?

        Not many will instigate this on their own. Is this reasonable? Again, maybe.

        However, it’s probably unreasonable to refuse to examine someone else’s constant shoving of a collection of experts under your nose, either. You have to at least acknowledge that. If you’re going to continue to hold on to your current understanding as an understanding based upon *reason*, rather than *belief*, you must reconcile the two eventually.

        > How many will do so if Alice’s views are repeatedly
        > put on the same level as those experts by virtue of
        > her going head-to-head on the cable news shows?

        “Well, that’s clearly the fault of the liberal media and their agenda… which…” wait…

        If you want to re-evaluate the role of the media, I’m on board. If you want me to give slack to those who have been mislead by bad reporting, I’m okay with that too (I said elsewhere on this thread that science reporting is notoriously bad).

        > How many, if they get that far, will be capable of
        > confirming for themselves that those experts
        > indeed have the same level of qualification as
        > Alice?

        Again, not many. Indeed, most people are incapable of confirming for themselves expertise in particular fields.

        I mean, shoot, I took four years of college math and got a membership into Pi Mu Epsilon and I still muffed one on this thread. If two hard core set theorists went balls-out right in front of me, it’s not unlikely that I wouldn’t be able to judge who was right or not.

        So, in that case, it’s my job to say at the very least, “I cannot be certain that I’m correct, here”. If I want to claim any sort of certainty, I have to investigate it…

        > And what if, as seems increasingly to be the case,
        > those experts largely share the same ideological
        > predisposition and sets of assumptions?

        Go find an expert who shares your ideological predisposition and assumptions, who nevertheless agrees with the experts who don’t share your predisposition and assumptions. Ask them if they can explain the disconnect.

        They’re out there. There are a number of non-liberal scientists who believe in AGW. Some of them are actually *theists*.Report

        • If you want to re-evaluate the role of the media, I’m on board. If you want me to give slack to those who have been mislead by bad reporting, I’m okay with that too (I said elsewhere on this thread that science reporting is notoriously bad).

          Yeah, the role of the media here is kind of a constant underlying theme, I think. For a few days I was actually watching some news coverage to try to keep abreast of what’s going on in Egypt. I quickly remembered why I stopped watching TV news – the need to make everything a controversy and to make sure discussion never goes beyond a handful of set talking points, and the drastic preference for so-called “analysis” over actual reporting. Yuck.Report

      • Avatar mac in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Arguing that a response is ‘human’ is a long way from arguing that a response is ‘reasonable.’ Humans are known for making mistakes, often due to improper evaluation of hypotheses.

        DougJ claims (and I agree) that these two cases (AGW and EVO) are instances where a reasonable person can look at (i.e. read!) the evidence on both sides, and come to only one conclusion.
        Note that by evidence, I don’t mean the latest papers in the field, I more likely mean the earliest:
        * Darwin’s “Origin”
        * Mendel’s Gene theory & review articles on molecular genetics
        * Basic physics of black-body radiation and insulation.
        * Basic physical chemistry of CO2

        If you don’t want to (or don’t have time to) read these papers, it behooves you to determine which authorities you believe have actually read them, and whether they have made (and met) valid criticisms.

        This is pretty basic stuff, if you expect to be taken seriously in the “marketplace of ideas”, rather than the “marketplace of ideology.”Report

    • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

      “Reasonable” as quasi-reasoned is pseudo-acceptable for reasons some would unreasonably reason as reasonable, but in reality not reasonable when reasoned as the only reason, therefore some reasons are reasonably unacceptable for that reason alone.Report

  7. Avatar jakecollins says:

    Shorter Mark Thompson.
    If I said I believe in witches, you libtards have no right to criticize me! After all, my favorite uncle told me I should believe in witches!Report

  8. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Scientism, scientistic?
    Seems science has in modernity and in too many instances, devolved into a political device designed by ‘progressives’ to forward their derailed and perverse agenda. I love the poetry and the imagination of the myth found in Genesis, for example, that pulls us toward the Divine ground, to the Creator, and all those differentiations that revel the Logos.
    But, hey I also believe in demons who exist in the aire seeking the souls of the lost, and in mysticism, and in prayer.
    “Revelation in the strict sense concerns the historical emergence of spirit.”Report

  9. Avatar RobF says:

    Mark,

    Thank you for writing this. I think your insightful post captures the essence of the basic epistemological question that drives so much of modern political debate. What caused the financial crisis? What monetary policy should we pursue in order to restore stable economic growth? Is the War on Drugs cost-effective? These are important questions to answer, but familiar fault-lines make actionable consensus on even the basic “facts” of these issues near impossible. We live in a post-fact age in which all truth is subjective. Rightly or wrongly, I believe that the political and media dynamics of modern Republicanism are driving much of this rise in truthiness.

    Here are couple hypothetical people with hypothetical beliefs on the two issues at hand:

    BILL
    1) The ‘anthropogenic’ in Anthropogenic Global Warming has not yet been conclusively established. Given the costs of the proposed remedies, we should research this more thoroughly and explore our options with some caution and humility.

    2) Theories of evolution do not necessarily comment on the origin of life itself or the existence of a divine Creator.

    TED
    1) AGW is a hoax perpetrated by a global conspiracy of scientific elites who are lying to us in order to subjugate us.

    2) The living species exist today as they did when God created them. This is especially true of Man. Evolutionary theories are speculation with no greater claim to truth than the story of Genesis.

    Which of those two sets of beliefs best aligns with modern Republican orthodoxy? Do I think that someone who ascribes to Bill’s beliefs has failed some critical test of analytic credibility? No. Do I think that someone who ascribes to Ted’s beliefs has failed some critical test of analytic credibility? Yes.Report

  10. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    To me, the best argument against AGW has been made by the AGW side themselves.

    Because, at first, it was “ALL scientists agree.”
    Then it was “MOST scientists agree.”
    Then it was “LOTS OF scientists agree.”
    Then it was “ALL THE CLIMATE SCIENSTS agree.”
    Then it was “All the climate scientists WHO ACTUALLY DO RESEARCH agree.”
    Then it was “All the climate scientists who actually do research AND ARE UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS agree.”
    Then it was “All the climate scientists who actually do research and are university professors AND AREN’T PAID BY EXXON agree…”

    And at no stage was there ever mention that, suddenly, a whole bunch of “supporters” had suddenly been flipped to “deniers”. Indeed, in the classic 1984 tradition, we were told that the current argument had ALWAYS been the argument presented. They always had meant “publicly-funded climate-change researchers” when they talked about the “overwhelming consensus among scientists”. Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.Report

    • Wow, that’s a fascinating set of data. Where did you get that from, people who do research, or the media?

      I don’t remember anyone ever publishing any paper anywhere that ever said, “ALL SCIENTISTS AGREE”, let alone any of the remainder of your timeline.

      I suggest, if you’re going to follow any science issues, that you don’t follow media reporting of said science. It’s very, very often extremely poor reporting.

      > And at no stage was there ever mention that,
      > suddenly, a whole bunch of “supporters” had
      > suddenly been flipped to “deniers”.

      Who are these people that were supporters and are now deniers? Give me a list.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        At no time did the published papers change. What happened was that No True Scot started to come into play as people pointed out that the AGW “consensus” wasn’t nearly as solid as the AGW supporters said that it was.

        Supporters like GeneralNBForrest, right down-thread.Report

        • > What happened was that No True Scot started to
          > come into play as people pointed out that the
          > AGW “consensus” wasn’t nearly as solid as
          > the AGW supporters said that it was.

          Still waiting on that list, old bean. The last time someone offered me a list, it turned out that most of the people who were on it weren’t even involved in any of the earth sciences, and of *those* most weren’t AGW skeptics and quite strenuously objected to being put on the list. If you’ve got a new list, cool, I’ll check it out.

          The AGW consensus is pretty solid among the general science community. Among earth and environmental science practitioners, it’s (if anything) stronger.

          I’ve never seen someone who has published a paper in one of the top climate/earth science journals in the last decade come out as supporting a different theory. Admittedly, this ain’t my field. If you can point me to such a person, that’d be great.Report

    • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Nice fiction, but the fact remains that the overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is an observable and developing phenomenon. Since y’all seem to be into this religion malarkey, I’d suggest you think about the Foolish Virgins a bit more.Report

    • Avatar Simon K in reply to DensityDuck says:

      People who proclaim about what scientists agree about are not doing science, they’re doing journalism. If you want to reach conclusions on scientific matters by your perception of changes in journalism over time, that’s fine, but it seems like a dubious methodology to me.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Simon K says:

        I’ve read a few peer-reviewed journals.
        I don’t remember seeing any statements of agreement being published.
        A lot of times, an article is published by more than one person, and I assume they are in agreement if they’re writing an article together.
        But it’s a lot of really dull stuff mostly, but it comes in darned handy when you need it. Tables of how the specific heat of various substances modulate according to excitation and such. Not something you would want to read to your kids.

        But really, at its cutting edge, science is more about repeated failure than achieving success.
        It’s just that there are certain failures that it helps you to avoid.Report

        • Avatar Simon K in reply to Will H. says:

          No, indeed. Plenty of statements of disagreement, and one or two papers that were truly scathing in that understated way – “We believe the work of Smithers in this field is flawed in several important respects”. But generally the closest you get to agreement is “Smithers and Carruthers on the Recursive Hoodicky Algorithm provides a useful foundation for more fundamental work in this area”, which is a nice way to saying that while Smithers and Curruthers are perfectly smart in their way, they have nothing like the massive scientific cojones that the author does.Report

  11. Avatar DougJ says:

    No, my question was phrased correctly. I was trying to sort you guys out from RedState and mission accomplished, you’re not RedState. Part of it is that when I’d read your comments before, there are a couple nuts, so I wasn’t sure.Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Loved the essay, Mark.

    Creationism/Evolution is a pretty decent debate but I think that, to make it *EXPLICIT* what I’m arguing, I use the number of planets.

    When I was a kid, there were 9 planets.
    “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.”

    Now? There are 8 planets.

    “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles.”

    Friggin’ noodles.

    Now, how many planets are there?

    Well, the problem is that we teach children to memorize numbers and figures by rote (which is perfectly fine in elementary school, for the most part) but measuring what kids know is a lot easier (and more measurable) with tests that ask “what” than with tests that ask “why”.

    We outsource “why” to The Scientists and then they tell us what rote facts to memorize and we write our multiple choice tests accordingly.

    It’s far, far more interesting to hammer out the differences between planets and dwarf planets than it is to remember what mom gave us for dinner… It’s somewhat more difficult to test, though.

    Indeed, if you aren’t going to be taught about hydrostatic equilibrium or Planetesimals, I don’t see how someone saying “there are 8 planets” or “there are 9 planets” is particularly distinguishable from someone saying “there are 4 lights” or “there are 5 lights”.

    You can’t see Pluto with the naked eye, the telescopes strong enough to see it aren’t affordable for the average hobbyist (they don’t seem to have even existed until the early 1900’s).

    So we’re stuck asking O’Brien how many lights there are.
    When he says nine, we smile and nod and say that we know that there are nine. When he says “there are eight”, we smile and nod and we eat the noodles we are served.Report

    • Avatar LanceThruster in reply to Jaybird says:

      This is the way I learned it (I’m told those who learned it with the “and” were told that represented the asteroid belt).

      Mary visits every Monday,(and) just stays until noon(,) period

      Now Mary just stays until noon.Report

  13. I, for one, have a limited amount of energy available to expend on – oh – pick anything. Its just not worth the candle having to debate *everything* from first principles. (Calculus? You want me to do calculus? Hold on, while I start with euclid’s axioms…). I, therefore, prefer to hold certain truths to be self-evident – and one of them is that if your ‘faith’ tells you that are myths and/or liberal conspiracies, I don’t really have any time for you. Is that me being unreasonable? Sure! But I can actually go on with my life fairly happily….Report

  14. Avatar GeneralNBForrest says:

    “Likewise, I do not see how it is the mark of an inherently unreasonable person to trust his interpretation of a holy book over the product of the scientific method.”

    The scientific method produces consistent, verifiable results. Holy books produce converts, hot air, and a general inadequacy when it comes to reality. But, by all means, make the argument that following some Bronze Age charter myth and the subsequent twists and turns of its interpreters is the more reasonable thing to do. Out of curiosity, why has God been so noticeably absent from the world of late? Or is it all just a big mystery?Report

    • But, by all means, make the argument that following some Bronze Age charter myth and the subsequent twists and turns of its interpreters is the more reasonable thing to do.

      I don’t seem to recall making that argument; I am, after all, an agnostic. I do however seem to recall simply pointing out that there are people who experience their faith in a way that they do not experience the fruits of the scientific method. For those people, trusting their faith is a perfectly rational thing to do – it is ever-present in their daily lives and helps them on a daily basis, as evidenced by the fact that there is a strong correlation between religiosity and happiness.

      The fact is that most political questions can be answered without any reference to science, and many of even those that require such a reference will be answered correctly without having to conflict with a given set of religious beliefs. One’s beliefs when religion and science conflict simply have no relevance to evaluating that person’s beliefs when they don’t conflict.Report

      • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Except that it doesn’t help them in their daily lives. It simply gives them a false sense of security, lets them put off confronting reality, and leads them to do nothing about real issues because, after all, Jeebus will make it all right at the end of time/tomorrow/when the Patriots need a touchdown.

        Furthermore, you personally may not be making that argument, but plenty on LOOG have done, will do, and are doing so on this thread. These are your commentators, after all.Report

        • Having a false sense of security is helpful in your daily life, point of fact. There’s lots of psych research to support this.

          People who worry about reasonable risks are often less happy, more stressed, more prone to error… eh, I can go on.

          It might not be helpful to *everybody else* if you’re a happy idiot, but it actually can be very helpful to yourself.

          You don’t even have to fall into “idiot” territory.Report

          • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

            And when these people walk off the metaphorical cliff.. that’s supposed to be helpful to their daily life? Is it supposed to be helpful when they lose their jobs and prayer gives them nothing but a void, no response, no way of paying the mortgage? God knows, psych research is a pretty spurious field, but this really takes the cake.Report

            • Ah, the positivist “only physics is a Real Science”(TM) shows up.

              I take it you’ve investigated modern neuropsychology’s investigative processes and experimental methods exhaustively and thus have a justifiable expert level assessment that enables you to make this statement with authority: “Psych research is a pretty spurious field”?

              Good on you, I’d love to read your analysis.

              Note: most people go through lives with only minor problems, and navigate those moments just fine without rational empiricism. Indeed, many people revert from utterly destructive behavior using methodologies that don’t use rational empiricism.

              Now, having these people make public policy decisions may very well be a bad thing in many cases. However, their belief system is clearly of “use” to them.Report

              • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                And what exactly are your qualifications, Pat? Psych has been on the way out for a good decade or so now. Neuroscience has the interesting bits, and philosophy will take over the argumentation.

                But do try making the argument from your presumed authority again. Of course, you could even try offering a response to what happens to these people when religion, as it always does, runs out on them. Or would that be too much work?

                Take your time.Report

              • > And what exactly are your qualifications, Pat?

                Do I need them? Let us establish our first principles, here.

                Are you saying that in order to accept a body of knowledge as valid, one must be a practicing member? Because I do believe that the converse is generally a more appropriate default; in order have decent grounds to reject a body of knowledge, one ought to have passing familiarity.

                Put another way, there is a whole field of study that has several journals and professional organizations that claims the field is valid. I’ve at least poked my head in examining the methodologies (and while Freud wasn’t falsifiable and early psych literature is of little value beyond case study) there have been a number of fairly decent studies I’ve seen that I found credible. So I have no reason to suppose the field is not adequately self-governing like other fields.

                You seem to be claiming the opposite, that I have to prove the field is valid in order to be taken seriously. Well, boy howdy, that’s remarkably consistent with the position of the theist, ain’t it?

                > Psych has been on the way out for a
                > good decade or so now.

                I misbelieve that you are qualified to make that judgment. If we’re talking about establishing bona fides, here, I think I’ve already gone one step farther than you have in using my name to post.

                > Of course, you could even try offering a
                > response to what happens to these people
                > when religion, as it always does, runs
                > out on them.

                Well, as has been pointed out elsewhere on this thread, “as it always does” seems to be rather baldly overstating the case. Most people in this country still self-identify as “religious”, across most demographics. So I’m not entirely certain where you get this certainty that religious belief “always” runs out for believers. Most of them seem to be doing just fine on their tank.

                That said, it seems pretty apparent to me that when people lose their faith (whatever the cause in a particular case) their response is largely predicated on how important their faith was to begin with, and how well they generally adjust to crisis scenarios.

                For some people, their religious belief is a facet of their addictive personality, rather than a self-aware personal analysis. When these people lose their faith, they often choose another addiction to take up to fill the void.

                For some people, their religious belief is a facet of their comfort with familiarity, and when they lose their faith they act in all sorts of different ways. I could go on.

                If your point is, “many people, when they lose their faith, experience extreme adverse effects” I’m disinclined to argue with you. That doesn’t make the point you’re claiming it makes, however.

                For the record, I’m not religious.Report

              • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                So you demand that others produce proof of professional qualifications, and then refuse to produce any of your own? You do realize that’s just a little less than convincing, don’t you?Report

              • I restate my last comment.

                What are our base rules, here? C’mon, you’re at least indirectly claiming to be a scientist. What are your rules of evidence? What constitutes an authority? I’m not going to start tilting at moving goalposts, if you’ll excuse a mixed metaphor. Do I need to show a degree? A master’s degree? A doctorate? A publications list?

                Put another way: if you will grant that physics is an academic field which has validity, explain to me by what criteria you then claim that psychology, climatology, astrophysics, biology, chemistry, or sociology is or is not an academic field that does not have validity, without special pleading or contradiction.

                I’m perfectly willing to state that I generally think that most scientific fields have a fair degree of descriptive or predictive power, which grows over time, based upon their collective following of the general principles of science. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to defend that position from any claim that I don’t have the authority to make it.

                You, on the other hand, by your own claim seem to have some knowledge that enables you to pick and choose which fields you think are valid. Please, you’re the one making the claim here, that means you get to defend it.

                Not the other way ’round.Report

        • Except that it doesn’t help them in their daily lives. Do you really want to try to convince countless millions of people that their personal experiences aren’t real? Good luck with that.

          Furthermore, you personally may not be making that argument, but plenty on LOOG have done, will do, and are doing so on this thread.

          Really? Plenty? Who? I don’t even really see anyone proclaiming that that a preference for the Bible over science guides them, personally, much less that such a preference is inherently more reasonable.Report

          • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            So you’ve come back to defending feelings over facts? It’s not a matter of convincing people that “their experiences” aren’t real. No cash for the mortgage, hungry children, and no voice in politics are experiences – and religion does nothing about any of them. Sprinkle on the magic pixie-dust all you like – facts matter.Report

            • Sure facts matter. But guess what? Being present for the birth of your child, relying on one’s faith to help one through a difficult period, etc, etc, are all experiences too. You want to tell them that their faith had nothing to do with any of that? As I said, good luck with that.

              If someone tells you “I lost my job a year ago, but my faith has sustained me and kept me motivated to keep trying and not give up, and now I have an interview next week,” do you really think that you know better than they what has sustained them?Report

              • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                And when they don’t have a job, and can’t pay the mortgage, what value faith then? The banks won’t stop to congratulate you on your faith as they repossess the house. All you are establishing here is faith as a feel-good mechanism. But your argument holds true for the person who turns to the crack-pipe to escape reality as well. Why should we see faith as being more beneficial?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

                If the bank is repossessing your house I’m not sure that a sense of “reality” would help either. When Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses, he didn’t mean it as an insult.Report

              • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to DensityDuck says:

                A sense of reality means making plans to find somewhere to live, rather than waiting for Jeebus to tote your stuff down the pike to glory. There is a difference, Duck. And Marx wasn’t endorsing the use of opium, even as he wasn’t insulting the masses.Report

              • Do you really believe that most theists will sit on a pile of their belongings, waiting for Jesus to come help them?

                I’ll note: real true believers often have a fairly robust support network. They might be in dire straits, but it’s also not terribly uncommon for other true believers to come and help them out. So they have that practical safety valve going for them.Report

              • Avatar sidereal in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

                As a practical matter, a religious philosophy that encourages people to sit around and hope they get saved would have a lot of useless/dead adherents and would be a memetic failure and likely die out.

                Thus, Jeebus helps those who help themselves.Report

      • Avatar Sideshow Bill in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Although trusting your faith experience in the face of their experience of science may be reasonable, it is still wrong. It is laziness and lack of mental agility/capacity to understand nuanced arguments that has gotten us into the pickle we’re in now in regarding science education (and no small part of that also is the result of willful misdirection on the part of religion and the media).Report

        • > Although trusting your faith experience in the
          > face of their experience of science may be
          > reasonable, it is still wrong.

          I happen to essentially agree with this statement.

          The conclusion is that to convince them they are wrong, you ought to first try to appeal to their reasoning capabilities, I would think.

          Yanno, rather than pulling out the mis-labled “unreasonable” label and then going 5 no-trump and adding “idiotic” and/or “irrational” on top.Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

      Chris, if the good General keeps up I’m going to Voegelin!Report

  15. Avatar t1 says:

    “Likewise, I do not see how it is the mark of an inherently unreasonable person to trust his interpretation of a holy book over the product of the scientific method.”

    Exactly right, praise be to Allah.Report

    • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to t1 says:

      Not to forget the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Divine Chicken Chasseur, and the Mouth-watering and Holy Gumbo! And there’s a damn sight more evidence for their existence and divinity!Report

      • Avatar t1 in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

        Yesiree, Bedford, spot on. What is it with all of these “scientists” presuming to tell us anything. The answers are all right there, already written down for us.

        And there’s the answer to this Obamacare nonsense, right there. Think how much money we would save on MRIs and CAT scans, and chemotherapy and drugs if all of these heathens would just consult the proper holy book instead of getting all hoity-toity with their scientific method and what not.Report

  16. Avatar Modulo Myself says:

    Unlike the above, this really is a sort of laziness. Once we choose to enter into the political realm, we are choosing to discuss and debate with all those who choose to do likewise. This, after all, is the very essence of politics. When we create litmus tests on some questions to define who is and is not worthy of engaging on all questions, we are taking a short-cut and refusing to do the heavy lifting that is necessary for a political system to function.

    What DougJ is claiming, I think, is that a high majority of Republicans and conservatives are refusing to do any of the necessary heavy lifting. If this is true, the question definitely is not ‘What more can I lift to engage you?’Report

  17. Avatar t1 says:

    “Likewise, I do not see how it is the mark of an inherently unreasonable person to trust his interpretation of a holy book over the product of the scientific method.”

    And, “Dianetics” will change your life, dude! And you don’t have to learn any languages other than English to read it in the original.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to t1 says:

      For the record, Dianetics did change my life.

      It convinced me that the world is full of people who are desperate for a new belief system, to the point where they will act like stone cold morons.

      Sadly, I’ve seen nothing to convince me otherwise.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger in reply to t1 says:

      I thought this bunk was solved a few weeks ago—Anthropomorphic Global Warming is the greatest fraud and hoax ever perpetuated on humanity. I’m not aware of a single atmospheric scientist who believes this asinine jackass silliness and if you find one, better get a search warrant and check his mattresses and freezer for lots, and lots of cold cash.

      Hey, guess what everyone–the earth is warming. And guess what else–it’s cooling. And guess what else–It’s been doing precisely this for the last freaking FIVE BILLION YEARS!! And I also have a boatload of bones and fossils to prove that monkeys evolved FROM us, not us from them. I’ll be giving a press conference from the Vatican in the very near future, so by all means, do stay tuned. Funny, you should mention “Dianetics”. The Global Warming crazies bear a striking resemblance to cults–Such as, the Jim Jones wackos–they REALLY did drink the Kool Aid, the Hale-Bopp loons (think: Heaven’s Gate), the Raelians who “cloned” a real live human being with one problem–he didn’t have a brain!, the Ho No Hana–they’re classic–Think the leader was the reincarnation of Buddha, Jesus, and Allah covered all bases–he had this disturbing foot fetish problem Even when the Climate Gate surfaced, the Warmers, or Coolers, steadfastly dug in their heels and blamed it all on shills for Big Oil. In the meantime, I’m collecting funds to help Al Gore pay his $30,000 monthly electric bill. He’s running out of space for all his “carbon footprints.” and might have to send them to the moon—also up for grabs, is his Nobel Peace Prize on eBay–it was so bad and deceitful, that the
      Brits won’t show it for students because there are at least 12 lies and fabrications. It’s absolutely worthless anyway–I couldn’t watch it for more than five minutes–no wonder he was raving like a lunatic over the “torture” incident–God knows, he certainly must know what torture is–he no doubt had to sit through an an entire screening of that cinematic monstrosity.

      t1, who are you guys? Welcome aboard! Hope you all stick around.Report

      • Avatar Simon K in reply to Heidegger says:

        I supposed the Argument from Personal Ignorance slightly beats out the Argument from Journalism, but its a close run thing.Report

        • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Simon K says:

          Simon K. I’m quite open for Enlightenment. If 95% of Libertarians are Left wing atheists, why even bother trying to cover this fact up with desperate, flaccid, attempts at “moderation.” Say it loud! Say it proud! I’m a card carrying Libertarian and there is no issue on this earth that we cannot escape from. We can dance on the head of pin like Astaire and Rogers. And being professional agnostics, no one can utter the words, perhaps, maybe, not sure but reserve right to change my mind–no one can do this more eloquently than a Libertarian.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Heidegger says:

            A surprising number of libertarians are atheists, thanks to the influence of Ayn Rand. 95%? Hardly. And relatively few are leftists, at least such as leftists tout court would recognize them.Report

            • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

              Jason, you are a wonderful exception to this rule–I find you refreshingly devoid of so many knee-jerk reactions–I dare say, you frequently shock me with your off the beaten path comments. Thank God! (is it alright to spell God with a capital G?) …Just jesting with Jason.Report

          • Avatar Simon K in reply to Heidegger says:

            I’m reasonably sure I don’t understand this comment. I’m sure its supposed to have something to do with global warming, but I can’t work out what.Report

        • Avatar sidereal in reply to Simon K says:

          It’s been trumped by the unassailable Argument from Al Gore Is FatReport

  18. Avatar gregiank says:

    Really good post Mark. If someone wants to discount science completely then their conclusions may be reasonable although not very workable in the 21st century. But they can reach logical conclusions from the premise science is useless. The big disconnect with a lot GW deniers is they want to discount scientific results only when it doesn’t suit their pre-existing beliefs. Taking planes, satellites, physics, chemistry, modern medicine because it suits you but ignoring GW is not consistent or reasonable.Report

    • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to gregiank says:

      How is it reasonable to discount something that works and produces results? I suppose you could fake up some tortured syllogisms, but that would be a perversion of reason, not a triumph of it.Report

      • Newtonian mechanics “works and produces results”. Point of fact, it’s even falsifiable and consistent and experimental and everything.

        And it’s demonstrably limited and in many ways broken. Which is why we have General (& Special) Relativity. Which is also demonstrably limited and in many ways broken. Which is why we have Quantum Mechanics.

        Which, according to two of it’s preeminent scholars, is *also* demonstrably limited and broken, which is why they’re working on the grand unification theory along with scads of other physicists.

        It’s one thing to *discount* something that produces results. It’s another thing to stop there, or assume something else produces no results because it’s not that thing.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

          Pat, brilliantly written. (I tried and failed to write this comment earlier.)

          I’d say that Popper’s point that science just helps us chip away at the number of things we don’t know aren’t false (yet) has a lot of explanatory power for how science evolves.Report

          • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

            Popper puts my teeth on edge just like Hume did, but they both had a point.

            I disagree with Popper to the extent that I think descriptive theories can be useful, just like predictive ones, so the falsification standard isn’t the only criteria to measure science. I don’t have a problem with a preponderance of evidence and I think the whole kerfluffle over induction is overblown.

            But yeah, any framework (scientific or no) can only cover what’s covered. You can’t prove the validity of a system using its own tools, even if that system is science. You also don’t discard something utterly when its utility is diminished unless it’s contraindicated by the case.

            I mean, crap, they don’t compute orbitals over at JPL using equations from special relativity. They still use Newtonian mechanics.

            And goddamn it, the next time I do an it’s/its I’m going to break one of my own freaking fingers in retaliation.Report

  19. Avatar sidereal says:

    Just to string this along for giggles. .

    The implication of DougJ’s original formulation, which I think has not yet been dealt with in any of the many responses, is that there is a sort of hierarchy of reasonableness. Some things require more irrationality to believe. And he’s selected his filter (GW + Evolution) at a level where he believes any source below that level of rationality is a waste of his time.

    So there are two potential critiques of this process. One is that the particular filters are inappropriately selected (that is, that there are many people who disbelieve that the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere is rising but have conservative insights that DougJ would find interesting).

    The other is that the methodology itself is flawed. . that there is no hierarchy of belief rationality. . . that some people who believe things that would, in my opinion, completely disqualify them from sensible conversation (like that a significant proportion of American liberals are secret jihadists) do in fact have interesting insights on orthogonal topics.

    In practice, I think DougJ is mostly right that some beliefs are naturally crazier than others and that a point along the spectrum can be used for easy filtering. I might pick a different point, though. I think that evolutionary theory applies to a process sufficiently distant from daily life that it wouldn’t take much ideological or religious pressure to push an otherwise rational person to stick to mysticism.

    On the other hand, he picked a couple of topics where the Republican ideological base has, as has been repeatedly polled, a distinct interpretation, so those filters could help identify conservative iconoclasts, who are probably more fun to read.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to sidereal says:

      > In practice, I think DougJ is mostly right that some
      > beliefs are naturally crazier than others and that a
      > point along the spectrum can be used for easy filtering.

      Mark T and I might disagree on this, but I think that’s a fair baseline, even though it is mildly dangerous.

      DougJ could have done so without the partisan filter, though. Rather than picking precisely and only those two points, and missing all the woo that orbits the left. If you’re talking about markers for “too crazy to take seriously”, I can think of tons…Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to sidereal says:

      The implication of DougJ’s original formulation, which I think has not yet been dealt with in any of the many responses, is that there is a sort of hierarchy of reasonableness. Some things require more irrationality to believe. And he’s selected his filter (GW + Evolution) at a level where he believes any source below that level of rationality is a waste of his time.

      I’m pretty sure he still thinks I’m a waste of his time, and I answered an emphatic yes to both his questions. I even volunteered — without him asking — that the Judeo-Christian God didn’t create life, and that humans were responsible for global warming.

      What else do I need to do to win this very reasonable fellow’s trust? (I know he’s asked me to badmouth my employer, but alas, I’m not about to.)Report

  20. Avatar LanceThruster says:

    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

    &

    “Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”

    Both quotes from George Bernard ShawReport

    • Avatar MFarmer in reply to LanceThruster says:

      “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.””

      Are you quoting this as an example of wisdom? This is an example of progressive delusion that’s caused so much harm. It’s the subjective mania which believes if you don’t like reality you just forcefully create the one you want.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to MFarmer says:

        It’s not true at any rate.
        “The reasonable man does not live in a house, but adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man lives in a house, adapting surrounding conditions to himself… All homelessness depends on the reasonable man.”
        No, thank you.Report

      • Avatar LanceThruster in reply to MFarmer says:

        It was posted not as wisdom set in stone but an offering playing on the theme/topic — “Reasonable” People — . It is similar to the expression that progress comes from the lazy man who is convinced thet there has got to be an easier way.

        Give me some of your favorite quotes and I’ll give counter-examples.Report

  21. Avatar LanceThruster says:

    BTW, my “reasonableness” indicators would be 9/11 truth (even those of the official commision admit to a cover-up of the truth), the facts of Israeli assault on USS Liberty, and the nature and extent of the Israel Lobby (and all that entails, including the IP confilct).

    It’s saved me considerable time and effort in trying to size up (from my perspective) someone else’s grasp of facts and history.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LanceThruster says:

      Welcome aboard.

      I’ve no doubt you’ll fit in seamlessly.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger in reply to LanceThruster says:

      LanceThruster, the assault on the USS Liberty was a 100% accident. There is not a single piece of evidence that can demonstrably prove otherwise. Why would Israel viciously attack her only ally when she was already being attacked by FIVE different countries? I’ve read all the communications between American ships and the Israeli Navy and nothing begins to even suggest or imply this was a deliberate attack by the Israeli Navy torpedo boats. It simply makes no sense and there is just a whiff of “grassy knoll” conspiracy-type paranoia to such claims. Hey, great name–with all due respect, a great porn name too!Report

      • Avatar LanceThruster in reply to Heidegger says:

        from: http://dissidentvoice.org/2007/06/israels-attack-on-the-uss-liberty-revisited/

        There’s plenty of evidence that US intelligence agencies learned on June 7 that Israel intended to attack the Liberty on the following day and that the strike had been personally ordered by Moshe Dayan.

        As the attacks were going on, conversations between Israeli pilots were overheard by US Air Force officers in an EC121 surveillance plane overhead. The spy plane was spotted by Israeli jets, which were given orders to shoot it down. The American plane narrowly avoided the IDF missiles.

        Initial reports on the incident prepared by the CIA, Office of Naval Intelligence and the National Security Agency all reached similar conclusions.

        [snip]

        More proof has recently come to light from the Israeli side. A few years after Attack on the Liberty was originally published, Ennes got a call from Evan Toni, an Israeli pilot. Toni told Ennes that he had just read his book and wanted to tell him his story. Toni said that he was the pilot in the first Israeli Mirage fighter to reach the Liberty. He immediately recognized the ship to be a US Navy vessel. He radioed Israeli air command with this information and asked for instructions. Toni said he was ordered to “attack”. He refused and flew back to the air base at Ashdod. When he arrived he was summarily arrested for disobeying orders.

        I have had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of one of the officers from the USS Liberty following a debate I was having in a particular forum. He countered every single lie, misrepresentation, and omission. Yet so many Americans, spoon fed the MSM pablum, prefer to take the word of the attacking nation over the accounts of eyewitness US military personnel.

        If the attack was “100% accident” as you say, why then the concerted effort to downplay or ignore the undeniable heroism of the crew? After all, that mistakes happen makes them no less courageous. In whose benefit is it to totally dismiss their sacrifice? There were lengthy media pieces on the 40th anniversary of the Sgt. Pepper album, or the introduction of the Ford Mustang…but for the 40th anniversary of the attack on the Liberty?…all I saw in my two newspapers was a tiny “On This Day in History” blurb right below the horoscope.

        Read the extent of the valor of the Liberty crew and ask yourself if they deserve the treatment they’ve received since the attack. (See: http://www.ussliberty.org/pdf/vfw_ussliberty.pdf )

        As I said, I am totally satisfied that how one views the conflicting versions of the Liberty attack is basis for determining a person’s ability to discern truth from whitewash.

        Thanks for the props on the name. Though I see the double entendre, it was originally coined to be reminiscent of Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers.Report

        • Avatar Heidegger in reply to LanceThruster says:

          LanceThruster, thanks. That’s a helluva reply and I’m very much interested in discussing this further with you–have to run now–back soon. I think (and hope) this can be resolved without machetes and pitch forks. My father and uncles were all big Navy guys and this incident never ceased go be an open raw wound with them. Oh no–is this going to be another DougJ mudfest? You know, interjecting father kind of dust up–please, may it not–if it even has to the potential to be thus, please delete this. Thanks.

          By the way, are you the infamous, “LT”? And here I thought it was the former great LB for the NYGiants. Did I blow that one!Report

  22. Avatar dmbeaster says:

    Here from BJ – nice site.

    It is a mistake to reposture DougJ’s question as an issue of trust, as with “So DougJ’s questions would perhaps have been better phrased as “when scientific consensus conflicts with the views of your religious or ideological leaders, which do you trust more?”.

    While it is a necessity to rely to some degree on non-analytic devices such as familiarity, trust, etc. in trying to gauge the analysis of people far more schooled and learned on a subject, it is wrong to suggest that this element of trust is at the core of what we do or should do in order to make that judgment call. I dont find myself persuaded regarding global warming because of a trust component, although I am inclined to put a lot of trust in the scientific method and people who have demonstrated a desire to comply with its methodology.

    No, what is persuasive about it is that it is possible to understand the elements of the argument, and look for the counter-arguments regarding those elements. I can read the NOAA data maps on worldwide temperature readings, and see that they show overall global warming (which also means some areas get a little cooler as a result of the changes). I can review the various anecdotal data of warming: polar ice caps melting, worldwide massive glacial retreat, northern trend of species and plants based on warming, etc. People with the opposite view can present their competing data and arguments, and one can use some degree of common sense to weigh them. And it is stupid to see scientists as ideologically oriented to one point of view. If good data and arguments existed on the other side, scientists by their nature would be advocating it. That is inherent in the scientific process – they love to undercut each other if they can based on the data and science.

    What is persuasive then is not trust, but our own abilities to use reason to understand to some degree what is being argued. The global warming deniers simply have the crappy argument – so crappy that it is fair to call them deniers. To counter global temperature data based on suspicion regarding the means of reading temperature – that is really weak (and the same alleged error would still show the increase – why would the error be selective for an increase in recent times?). To counter it by suggesting there is some form of scientific bias in favor of global warming is laughable. It is nutty conspiracy thinking.

    There simply is no solid factual support to the counter argument. Who then puts more weight on trust in one’s ideological leaders (whether political or religious) to influence one’s opinion versus an effort to understand the argument? By definition, unreasonable people.

    The human element in causing global warming is a trickier question, but the key evidence is that based on what is known about long-term shifts in global weather (paleoclimate), there is no other good candidate other than greenhouse gasses as a cause. And the science that greenhouse gasses cause warming is pretty solid, although correlating specific levels to specific outcomes is another story. This greatly complicates the cost-benefit analysis of what to do, but that is not the debate for the most part. We dont even get to that point since so much energy is devoted to pretending it isnt happening.

    Again, trust does not determine how to look at the question. Preferring to rely on trust over some effort to grapple with the data and arguments is what gets us into this mess of denial of science based on faith.Report

    • Avatar GeneralNBForrest in reply to dmbeaster says:

      What the deniers tend to forget is that many of those who accept climate change as a reality would love to be shown a factual argument that proved the contrary. We don’t like the vision of future disaster that science is showing us, we wish desperately that it were otherwise – but the deniers aren’t giving us anything like enough facts to convince us – despite the fact that we wish they would.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to GeneralNBForrest says:

        And many deniers would love to be taken seriously when they do present factual arguments that prove the contrary. Instead they’re told all about how their anti-science denierism is blinding them to the obvious truth, leading them to err in their interpretation, leading them to cherry-pick data, leading them to assume all the errors will go their preferred way…Report

        • Avatar Simon K in reply to DensityDuck says:

          You’re perfectly at liberty to make an actual scientific case against AGW if you have one. Do you have one?Report

        • Avatar dmbeaster in reply to DensityDuck says:

          They are taken seriously… until they then demonstrate a denial of fact, evidence and argument. I have not seen anything from the skeptics that meaningfully contradicts the evidence and argument concerning the fact of global warming.

          The disappearance of vast quantities of arctic sea ice over the last several years is a truly alarming piece of evidence. Its not just the extent of coverage diminishing, but the overall volume as the coverage thins vertically. There is zero evidence of this happening at any time in known human history. Predictions were made in the 90s by many scientists concerning the likelihood and extent of arctic sea ice loss in the coming decades, which involved a range of outcomes. The actual data has exceeded the worst case scenario. Predictions that the arctic will be ice free in summer by 2030 were once viewed as alarmist – that is now the consensus of climate scientists based on recent data and trends.

          I just dont see any logic in the denial position that global warming is not even happening.Report

          • Avatar Will H. in reply to dmbeaster says:

            I haven’t seen anything conclusive about AGW either.
            A trend line is simply that– a trend line.

            But for the record, let me state again that,
            1). I do believe that human activity is a significant component of climate change;
            2). Consideration of the cause in no wise relieves us of any responsibility to act; and
            3). The data is compelling enough to be taken seriously.

            But conclusive? No.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to dmbeaster says:

      > And it is stupid to see scientists as ideologically oriented
      > to one point of view. If good data and arguments existed
      > on the other side, scientists by their nature would be
      > advocating it. That is inherent in the scientific process
      > – they love to undercut each other if they can based
      > on the data and science.

      As Simon points out below, this isn’t entirely stupid. *I* think it is, but I work at a fairly prestigious research university and I’m in a degree program myself and I’ve seen enough of the “making sausage” aspect of science to know what goes on during the daily grind.

      I mean, if you’ve never seen a crowd of people at a conference rip a presenter to pieces, tromp on the pieces, and the go out with the presenter after the talk and have a good-natured chuckle over a beer you might fall for the “ivory tower is full of self-confirming elitists” canard.Report

  23. Avatar Simon K says:

    I don’t think its an argument from authority to trust scientific conclusions more than a holy book. Or at least its a special and different kind of argument from authority – I don’t accept uncritically the conclusions of any particular scientist or group of scientists, or the content of any particular theory, as Catholics are supposed to trust the Church, or Evangelical Protestants the Bible. Rather I trust the process – even though we may currently be wrong about many things, even everything, the process is such that the current scientific consensus is typically the best approximation to the truth that we’re going to get.

    I realize I’m in a priveleged position in being able to use and participate in that process. That gives me a lot more confidence that if I push down into the details of climate research or evolutionary biology I’m going to find good justifications for the high level conclusions, and I know what the outputs of good scientific work tend to look like, versus the kind of fake science the intelligent design types or some (not all) anti-AGW types produce. Most people, even very smart people who don’t have any scientific education, don’t know what the scientific process actually looks like when its working, or the kinds of outputs it tends to produce, so they don’t know how to think about it. Scientists don’t help matters, since most of them don’t know how to communicate their findings, and some of those who do have ideological axes to grind and tend to overplay the level of certainty that we really have.

    The public at large, I think, doesn’t have any good grounds to differentiate between faith in science and faith in holy books, because they don’t have any experience of the scientific process as such, only scientific facts, which seem superficially to be on the same level as divinely given facts. It would be nice if science education helped people with this, but unfortunately the scientific method is about finding out new things, and above all else about being wrong about them, where formal education tends to be about learning lists of things people already know and being right about them. Most practicing engineers, scientists, mathematicians and so on learn how to actually do science through common sense and a kind of osmosis from their colleagues, rather than through their formal educations. Maybe it has to be that way, but its unfortunate.Report

  24. Avatar brantl says:

    ” The scientific method, for the most part, is not experienced in recognizable ways by many people.” If you really believe this, you are an inherently ignorant person. People use the scientific method every day, most people use it, and they recognize it when they do, if they’ve had more than a 4th grade education.Report

  25. Avatar gVOR08 says:

    I’m not sure y’all are getting the point to DougJ’s question. To quote your guy Jason, “To everyone who eagerly broke out the metaphorical popcorn in DougJ’s comments — I’m sure I could come up with some patronizing questions for you, too. Would you like that? I’m not sure I would, which is why I haven’t, yet. But I’m sure I could.”

    One, I followed DougJ over here because I’ve been looking for reasonable conservative voices.

    Two, I could have gotten through a couple bags of popcorn while following this. And I’m sorry, you guys are way more entertaining than OTB.

    Three, do it. Come up with two statements of demonstrable fact that a majority of liberals would disagree with. Show me Colbert was wrong.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to gVOR08 says:

      Come up with two statements of demonstrable fact that a majority of liberals would disagree with. Show me Colbert was wrong.

      I don’t really feel I need to do this. I’m not a conservative. Culturally, I’m a liberal. Economically, I tend to mistrust the government and support a market that keeps political intervention to a benign minimum.

      As I’m not a conservative, I don’t have a hard time saying what follows — I generally agree that American conservatives take a lot more things on faith or dogma than American liberals. Sometimes, these dogmas run smack into the wall of reality, and it hurts.

      I suspect that American liberals’ dogmas, where they do exist, are about things much more abstract and hard to demonstrate — that, for example, a democratic government almost always has the ordinary people’s interests at heart, or that a president with a D after his name will really end all the bad policies of his predecessor, who had an R after his name. I tend to mistrust both of these.

      These aren’t scientific facts, but claims that have still often been falsified, and that American liberals nonetheless believe.Report

  26. Avatar gVOR08 says:

    Jason–I sincerely appreciate your response to my challenge. However, your two statements are myths you think liberals believe, not, as I suggested, “demonstrable facts that a majority of liberals would disagree with.” However, no, I don’t believe either. I doubt you’d find many liberals who do.

    ” …a democratic government almost always has the ordinary people’s interests at heart”. Did you mean capital D? No, most of us recognize the truth of the charge that Democrats are Republican Lite. We liberals are the guys who disliked the DLC, until it folded because they succeeded.

    “…that a president with a D after his name will really end all the bad policies of his predecessor, who had an R after his name.” No. We don’t think Obama is ending all of W’s bad policies. Many of us hoped Obama would, I personally never thought it likely. The crap’s to built into the system. We may suffer another terrorist attack and O’s not going to open himself up to a charge it’s because he lightened up. He wants to close Gitmo, but he can’t because of GOP opposition and because the legal tangle W created will be impossible to unravel.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to gVOR08 says:

      Here are my two myths that Liberals believe in:

      Gonzales v. Raich was decided correctly.
      Kelo v. New London was decided correctly.

      Want a third?
      The New York Times Company should not be protected by the First Amendment.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        uhh yeah, because opinions on those rulings have the same scientific proof and objective support as evolution. I think you are confusing taste and evidence.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

          Put your hand in the mouth of the gargoyle and testify.

          Show the world how reasonable you are.
          Or, alternatively, show the world exactly how much integrity you’re willing to sacrifice in order to communicate group membership.

          The gargoyle is, of course, made of stone. Of course it won’t bite if you lie.Report

          • Avatar Bo in reply to Jaybird says:

            This could revolutionize Constitutional scholarship. Now we just need to translate it from your beautiful moon language.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Bo says:

              Is it your position that:

              Raich v. Ashcroft was decided correctly?
              Kelo v. New London was decided correctly?

              For my part, after getting the mockery of the questions out of my system, I answered them. Just sayin’.Report

              • Avatar Bo in reply to Jaybird says:

                You see, I’m stuck with a textual interpretation problem: If by “decided correctly”, I take the meaning “decided by the correct protocol”, I’d answer yes, appeal to the Supreme Court is the Constitutionally approved method of deciding Constitutionality. But if I take the meaning “agree with the results of the decision”, I’d answer no. This problem, where deceptively simple text has multiple correct interpretations, even to the point of requiring separate answers, apparently often arises in Constitutional analysis as well…Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Bo says:

                But this isn’t the case *IN PRACTICE*, is it?

                Remember DougJ’s original questions?

                With the exception of one (or two?) commenters, everybody answered “correctly”. Yet the animus did not decrease at all… why? Because of the same sort of thing as the Constitutional analysis deals with.

                It’s not because of whether we agree with established science. It’s what conclusions we’ve reached when we interpret deceptively simple texts differently.

                That’s what makes us “glibertarians”. Not our attitude toward science.Report

              • Avatar Bo in reply to Jaybird says:

                But this isn’t the case *IN PRACTICE*, is it?

                Sure it is. That’s why a majority of 9 highly experienced judges in the United States Supreme Court can fail to “decide correctly” over and over again, while a random libertarian on the internet can bat a thousand.

                As for the rest, well, ressentiment is never pretty, but I’ve always found the level of animus over differing Constitutional interpretations to be much higher emanating from the libertarian camp. YMMV. DougJ’s probably more animused because you want to kill sick people and turn the US into Somalia.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

                Views on physical reality versus views on what two-century-old laws mean in today’s social environment don’t equate. Whatever a person’s views on those cases, he would stake less integrity (not none, but far less) by outsourcing them to a favored political coalition than he would by staking his views on evolution or relativity or climate to his politics. The law is political (sacrilege! sacrilege!), and simply doesn’t have the degree of absolute meaning that physical reality, and our attempts to describe it, do. Ultimately, what we decide about the meaning of our laws actually affects their meaning in reality in a way that the representations we create to describe physical reality do not actually alter the workings of physical reality they attempt to describe.

                That said: Kelo is wrong; Raich is borderline.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Views on physical reality versus views on what two-century-old laws mean in today’s social environment don’t equate.

                I suspect they do, and here’s why:

                Bleeding edge progressives agreed with “established science” in the early 1900’s… and this meant a handful of theories that have since been discredited. Yet, at the time, those who disagreed with the theories were sneered at.

                I’m pretty sure that, in 100 years, we will be looked back upon with a mixture of amusement and pity at our backwards assumptions the way we look at how Helen Keller was a fan of eugenics.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                As far as I can tell, both of these are correct interpretations of the law, even though I don’t like either decision. And of course the Times right to publish a newspaper is protected by the First Amendment. That doesn’t mean it also has the right to buy elections.

                Given the way you phrased these questions, apparently libertarians believe a Supreme Court decision is correct only when they like the result.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Given the way you phrased these questions, apparently libertarians believe a Supreme Court decision is correct only when they like the result.

                The way you say that makes me wonder if you think it is possible for a Supreme Court decision to be anything *BUT* correct.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                You know what I think of Corporations United.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                You probably only think a decision is correct if you like the result.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                What about “As far as I can tell, both of these are correct interpretations of the law, even though I don’t like either decision.” is unclear?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I just thought that “You probably only think a decision is correct if you like the result” was something that you said if you wanted to wave away the other person’s position without engaging it.

                Was I using it incorrectly?Report

              • Avatar Bo in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                It’s been so long I forget who’s rubber and who’s glue.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I didn’t think “Liberals like X because they’re in favor of all expansion of government power (you know, like sodomy laws)” was worth engaging.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Do liberals like Kelo? about 50-50 in my experience. Californians tend not to like government subsidies to private parties, which is why our sports arenas tend to be old (49ers, Raiders, and A’s), privately built (Giants), or non-existent (LA football). Reich? in general no, we approve of medical marijuana, which is why it’s popular in places like California.

                Why, then, do you assume liberals like those decisions? I’m presuming its because they increase the power of government.Report

              • Most Californian’s don’t give a rat’s about Kelo because you couldn’t do the same thing here.

                I found Kelo to be massively offensive and I have no problem saying the court decided it incorrectly. Hell, I even have SCOTUS judges who agree with me.

                I think Raich is ridiculous since I don’t see under what logic you can claim commerce is involved when you’re not buying anything from anybody. Again, I have SCOTUS judges who agree with me.

                Funny how O’Conner penned both dissents. The Republican, appointed by Regan, was probably my favorite judge on the Court in both decisions.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Why, then, do you assume liberals like those decisions?

                I look at how the various justices voted.

                Look at the names on this side v. that side of Kelo. Does that make you knit your brow at all? Raich?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Ah, you made the mistake of thinking there are any liberal justices remaining.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Perhaps.

                I imagine that I have a great deal of company in doing so.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                All the people who think Obama’s a socialist, to start with.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I doubt that they’re even a plurality.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                @Pat Calahan:

                I think Raich is ridiculous since I don’t see under what logic you can claim commerce is involved when you’re not buying anything from anybody. Again, I have SCOTUS judges who agree with me.

                Agreed. Now let’s extend that logic to people who decline to buy health insurance. Not buying anything. From anybody.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                @Pat Calahan:

                I think Raich is ridiculous since I don’t see under what logic you can claim commerce is involved when you’re not buying anything from anybody.

                Is this a consequence of the fact that marijuana is grown rather than manufactured, or does it extend to “I cooked the meth in my basement lab for my own personal use”?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Does it extend to “you had sex with your wife and according to craigslist in your area that is a $200 transaction therefore you need to be taxed $20”?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Is that a flat 10% or is it a progressive in-and-out-come tax?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Wouldn’t either be Constitutional?

                Or is one Constitutional while the other wouldn’t be?

                Let’s pick the Constitutional one, in any case.

                We could use the revenues to help poor people raise children.Report

    • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to gVOR08 says:

      The DLC is dead, thus “liberaltarianism.” Read and weep, EDK, and all those who came too late to the party [Democratic, in this case].

      http://volokh.com/2011/02/10/the-demise-of-the-democratic-leadership-council-and-the-future-of-liberaltarianism/

      I mourn the loss, mind you. I was good with Bill Clinton and later Clintonism [after he let his wife’s healthcare progressivism fail via decided inaction]. I mourned not a whit when my party’s candidate, the solid and stolid Bob Dole failed to unseat him.

      You have decided to jump on yet another sinking ship: the Democratic Party rejects reform—choosing instead to double down on Eurostatism—just as the other one finds itself obliged to embrace it.

      http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/143641-tea-party-wins-house-gop-spending-bill-cuts-at-least-100-billion

      Your search for the center remains unrequited, perhaps too clever for its own good.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to gVOR08 says:

      I don’t actually dispute that the left is vastly better on questions of science. They are.

      I dispute left-leaning views in economics; I find the left’s theories of rights and is models of how government works to be flawed.

      These aren’t so easily settled by scientific experiment, so I might just have to concede your challenge.Report

  27. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Take two for science-related questions for “The Left”. We need a time machine, however.

    Let’s go back to 1910. 100 years, right?

    The two questions for Progressives:

    Are White People genetically smarter than the Irish, Negroes, or Indians?
    Should babies with abnormally large Thymus Glands have them irradiated in order to help prevent SIDS?

    What would a good, educated, bleeding edge Progressive have answered to these questions in 1910? What would established science have said?

    What is the difference between the assurance you have with your answers today and the assurance that good, educated, bleeding edge Progressives had when they would have answered those questions in 1910?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      Changing your views in the face of new evidence is a good thing. One might even call it “Scientific”. (Quant Suff!)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Changing your views in the face of new evidence is a good thing.

        I’m not really interested in your answers to my two questions.

        I am interested in the answer to the last one, however.

        What is the difference between the assurance you have with your answers today and the assurance that good, educated, bleeding edge Progressives had when they would have answered those questions in 1910?Report

  28. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Biology and climatology aren’t the hardest of sciences, but they’re a lot harder than “race science” or medicine, esp. medicine as it was practiced in 1910. (Nor is evolution “bleeding edge”, of course — it’s a theory that has stood the test of centuries.)Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Are you saying that with the benefit of hindsight or was that a particularly common viewpoint among the sciences in 1910?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        It’s difficult to look at 1910 without hindsight, but it’s certainly the opinion I have of “cutting edge” stuff like sociobiology today. We keep learning new facts about human evolution, which force us to make adjustments around the edges, but the principles are not in doubt.. And certainly the more we learn about human biology and the genome, the more idiotic polygenism looksReport

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          And certainly the more we learn about human biology and the genome, the more idiotic polygenism looks

          No doubt! No argument! None!

          Do you see what the thought experiment is driving at, though?

          Do you doubt that, one hundred years hence, we’ll be looked at similarly to how you look at 1910? Perhaps not with regards to evolution or global warming… but surely you admit that there are at least a couple of science questions that, with benefit of hindsight, they’ll be able to say that we *SHOULD* have asked?Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

            I certainly hope that in 100 years we’ll have learned more about the way the world works. Perhaps we’ll have a genuine understanding of how racial genetic differences are expressed, and think that all sides in 2010 were equally ignorant. (Though this is such an emotionally and politically fraught subject that I’m not counting on it).

            I don’t think you have kids. If you did, and they’d become teenagers, the notion of looking foolish to younger generations would not be merely a thought experiment.Report

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