AGW and Logical Rudeness

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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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74 Responses

  1. Avatar Kim says:

    One of my “friends” in college was libertarian. he said that we didn’t need to give money to the state for welfare/charity, that if we didn’t tax, that we’d just give away the money anyhow.
    I have multiple arguments against that (starting from the immorality of forcing people to bend the knee to your G-d in order to feed them. My True Rejection on this point might be simply to see Dominionists no longer be in control of segments of America. [ditto for other faiths, ain’t pickin’ on the christians.]), but my “it’s not human nature to be charitable in exactly the times people need charity the most” is certainly falsifiable (got a few more thoughts on teh subject, but they aren’t clear now)Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      It’s only charity when you do it with your own money. When you do it with other people’s money, it’s welfare.

      At least, “welfare” is the most agreeable term I can come up with for it.

      Am I parsing you correctly here, though? Are you really saying, “If it were demonstrated to me that Dominionists were no longer in control of any segments of America, I would be a libertarian?”

      If so, you should have a chat with Tom Van Dyke.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        … no, I have other reasoning, including what I outlined later in that post “it’s not human nature to be charitable when people need charity the most.” [you and I can both agree that’s falsifiable, right?]
        I’ll call it charity if it comes from the government, just as much as if it comes from private pockets. Because to me, charity is defined as justice — it’s definitional.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TzedakahReport

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          Then that wasn’t your True Rejection.

          As to the claim “it’s not human nature to be charitable when people need charity the most,” I think it’s probably true, but I don’t see it as a defeater of libertarianism. I think it’s a justification for permanent charitable institutions that are better attuned to these needs than the average donor.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            … and I’ll just go ahead and say that permanent institutions tend to be self-perpetuating.
            [I was noting part of my True Rejection, not all of it, and laying it out in two parts. My “don’t wanna be forced” argument seems a separate issue, but it definitely plays into my views, and would form a true rejection if you successfully countered the rest of my True Rejection.]Report

      • Avatar NoPublic says:

        It’s only charity when you do it with your own money. When you do it with other people’s money, it’s welfare.

        Corollary: It’s all other people’s money. You’re just temporarily holding onto some of it. The only pure charity is the gift of unburdened real property (and there’s bugger all of that in the world) or personal labor.Report

      • Avatar Jeff says:

        At least, “welfare” is the most agreeable term I can come up with for it.

        There’s “empathy”, but that doesn’t seem to be in the libertarian disctionary.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Empathy? Is that the thing that is sometimes accompanied by a copious discharge of hydrated chloride of sodium from the eyes?

          I’ve read about that.Report

          • Avatar James K says:

            Why would you discharge NaCL solution form your eyes? That’s a terribly inefficient way to preserve your electrolyte imbalance. It must have somethign to do with these “emotion” things I keep hearing about. I’ll have to pay someone to explain it to me some time.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              No, no, no. Empathy is the feeling you get when you take money that wasn’t yours and give it to someone else.

              At least, so I infer.Report

  2. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    Thank you for eloquently framing something I was beating my head over in the last two weeks far less eloquently.Report

  3. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    You forgot to put in the first part of the dialogue, which is:

    Liberal: There exists an overwhelming scientific consensus that Global Warming exists and is anthropogenic! [True Rejection: If the consensus didn’t exist then I wouldn’t make this claim.] [Alternate True Rejection: If the consensus were mistaken then I wouldn’t make this claim.]Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Fair enough. Consider them added.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      DD,
      my true rejection on this issue would require 10 years of counter-to-the-mean-model observations AND for those observations to be sufficiently under to reverse global warming.

      My true rejection on the issue of consensus would require your proving that my friend (whom I trust with my life) is a lying sack of shit — which incidentally would jeopardize quite a few research studies I believe you would care about.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        I didn’t say he was a liar. I said he might be wrong.

        If you’re going to assume that he’s always right because it’s rude to assume that a friend is wrong…Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          You have persistently dismissed his allegations of corruption of the anti-AGW side, via being paid — To A ONE by Exxon. This isn’t even getting into his survey of published research…

          You have called him a liar or a deluded fool, with your own words.

          Nah, plenty of my friends bullshit. This one doesn’t. When he says 10% chance of an American Civil War (c. 2008, when the shit done hit the fan), I fucking pay attention.

          I trust him because he’s right about a lot of things… and because he’s flat out smarter than me.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            … also because he understands game theory and information theory. he’s the foremost international expert on a subset of the latter (credit Bush for that).Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        And, while I’m at it, let’s remember that this thread isn’t about the validity of the arguments. It’s what would change if they were wrong. It’s asking you to understand what part of your belief structure comes from logic, and what part comes from ex post facto justification of a choice made in emotion.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          if you could prove that my friend was a lying sack of shit, then yeah, I’d eat my hat.
          if we had enough data that showed global cooling was going on, I’d eat my hat.

          Patrick’s been asking for your True Rejection for ages. How about answering him? (it can be multipart, ya…)Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            I guess you missed where I posted it, then.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              ya. plz post again here, or post a link.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                *sigh* The assumption that the consequences of global warming cannot be mitigated in any way short of a radical restructuring of human society involving, among other things, significant consolidation of population, large-scale deindustrialization, and heavy reductions in the overall expenditure of energy, all enforced by governmental decree.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                And this assumption is so obviously false as not even to need refuting.

                It’s preposterous to think that there are no policy changes that would (a) reduce global warming, yielding benefits amount to x, and (b) have costs that are less than x.

                There has to be some marginal improvement somewhere, no? I mean, given that we haven’t even tried to solve the problem yet?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Sorry, but no. You asked what it would take to convince me I was wrong. I told you that it would take incontrovertible proof that the only way to save the human race was to go back to starving in the cold, dirty darkness.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                So you are confident that no marginal improvement is ever possible in this area?

                How did you come by that conclusion?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                so you are a strawman. Nice to meet you.
                Read some Niven, or Brin, and have a nice life.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                At this point I can’t even figure out what you’re actually asking me anymore. Please confer with Kim and get your questions straight. I’m having two different conversations at once and both parties insist on reading my answers to the other as though they were addressed to them.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I’m not interested in conferring with Kim. She has shown no understanding whatsoever of the framework I’m working with. She also has a frightening propensity just to make facts up when they suit her argument. Not a trustworthy ally.

                Still I’d like you to tell me, regarding the following statement:
                *sigh* The assumption that the consequences of global warming cannot be mitigated in any way short of a radical restructuring of human society involving, among other things, significant consolidation of population, large-scale deindustrialization, and heavy reductions in the overall expenditure of energy, all enforced by governmental decree.

                ….what hypothetical, perhaps purely imaginary facts might get you to change your conclusions here, if you (hypothetically) came to believe they were true? They can be false, made-up facts. That’s the whole point of the exercise, in case you missed it.

                Use your imagination. Then pick the ones you think are most plausible.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                So you’re going to take offense to something I said to someone else, then complain that you aren’t talking to that person, and then YOU get all huffy with ME because I’m not playing the game the way you want?

                I don’t know if it’s me that’s having problems with True Rejection.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                My apologies, I’d thought the “please confer with Kim” remark was aimed at me.

                The game works like this.

                When you state a conclusion, please also state a set of plausible facts that might get you to rescind that conclusion — if they were true.

                Now obviously, you don’t currently think those facts are true. If you did, you wouldn’t hold the conclusion!

                I didn’t make the game. Mr. Yudkowsky did. I’m asking folks to play it. You may balk if you like, but I’d hope you would take the trouble to understand what it entails before doing so.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Oh, PS:

                “There has to be some marginal improvement somewhere, no?” [True Rejection: There isn’t.]Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Then you are not arguing in good faith. I’m done with you.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                dude, dude, duuuude.
                enforced by government decree?
                dear, without gov’t policy, as the price of gas goes up, we get MORE industrialization of America, as it’s no longer as cheap to get things from china.

                I put my damn money where my mouth is. and I’m betting on the value of in-city housing going up (or at least staying stable).Report

  4. Avatar GA Dean says:

    Alas, what you are calling “logical rudeness” is now, and probably has always been, the standard mode of discourse in political circles. There are dozens of hotly debated issues where both sides lob arguments that they really don’t believe, or shouldn’t believe.

    Perhaps a corollary to Logical Rudeness is the appeal to a grotesque oversimplification of a complex issue, a commonplace tactic. The simple stuff makes for great sound-bites, but it savagely distorts the issue. Look at current discussions of our financial challenges for easy examples.

    The scientific strength of the AGW idea became irrelevant once it moved into politics, where logic and reason don’t get votes.Report

  5. Avatar Koz says:

    Oh goody, let me have a try at this. I like this frame btw.

    The big-picture policy solution for AGW is actually pretty simple, for me at least. And AFAIK, nobody has stated it clearly (I think Jim Manzi has gotten the closest), so maybe I can claim priority.

    We should do nothing except maybe some basic cheap research because:

    There are three plausible resolutions of AGW.

    1. AGW is a hoax, or the consequences are neglible related to default or random climate changes.
    2. The consequences of AGW are significant, but mitigatable.
    3. The consequences of AGW are horrific, at a societal or civilizational level.

    The key point is, it doesn’t make any difference what we assign to be the probabilities of each. In the last case, which people tend to care about and argue about the most, the assumptions that create the disaster scenarios also prevent the solutions. People like mclaren can write radical scaremongering policies, but they wouldn’t solve anything if by some miracle we actually did them. (Furthermore, I’d also argue that ideas like his couldn’t be implemented even if we wanted to).

    Therefore, the logical rudeness business is actually reversed from the formulation of the OP. Why should we consider a course of action that destroys the economy as collateral damage if it doesn’t solve the problem it’s intended to address?Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      “also prevent the solutions”… because moving wall street to cleveland is suddenly impossible?
      or are you arguing about the current state of flood insurance in the american southeast?Report

      • Avatar NoPublic says:

        I think he’s saying “You can’t boil the ocean so f*ck ever making any tea at all”Report

        • Avatar Koz says:

          I’m not following either one of you. What I’m saying is pretty simple: under the various disaster scenarios, AGW problems are either insoluble or there’s no particular evidence that they are soluble under some policy path.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            … koz, if we go disaster scenario — and I mean 50 foot sea level rise, I’m confident that we can explode enough nuclear weapons to cool the planet down enough (people have been revising the studies done in the fifties recently). I’m NOT confident that we will actually tweak the parameters properly — we could very easily go into an ice age, if we tried that. Also, radiation.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      For claiming to like the frame, you do not appear to have employed it.

      What data would convince you that your three plausible resolutions are not the only three?

      What data would convince you that these categories are not necessarily watertight, and that there is a chance of passing from one to another?

      What data would convince you that a marginal change within perhaps any one of the categories can, at times, be worth making anyway?Report

      • Avatar Koz says:

        “What data would convince you that your three plausible resolutions are not the only three?”

        None. It’s a matter of reformulation for clarity if anything. The alternatives are intended to be exhaustive.

        “What data would convince you that a marginal change within perhaps any one of the categories can, at times, be worth making anyway?”

        None. The collateral damage is too high. If they could actually claim solvency that would be a game-changer though. This is actually a useful turn of intent btw. It’s much more useful to talk about solving things than zOMG when are we going to get the Republicans to stop carbon emissions.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          yarly. US needs new markets. we can generate new markets through investing heavily in green energy, which will be necessary/profitable in the future because of increased gas prices.

          I do good?

          Alternative: US needs new markets. we should invest in ways to make machinery more effective in the South, so things break down less. Since the south will continue to industrialize, we will have growing markets.Report

  6. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    — “What data would convince you that your three plausible resolutions are not the only three?”

    — None. It’s a matter of reformulation for clarity if anything. The alternatives are intended to be exhaustive.

    I’m asking you to use your imagination here. It can be literally anything, even if that thing isn’t real. If the heavens parted and God said “Koz, you’re wrong about this,” would you deny him?

    Probably not. There are probably other hypotheticals besides this one. Pick the least implausible of them, in your mind, and tell it.

    –“What data would convince you that a marginal change within perhaps any one of the categories can, at times, be worth making anyway?”

    –None. The collateral damage is too high.

    So… we’re facing a massive, worldwide ecological disaster (let’s say). And you’re saying there is no scenario in which one dollar of prevention could ever bring us more than one dollar of benefit? Not even $1.01? Never ever?

    Wow. You’re remarkably confident in your conclusions. That’s all.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      Okay, see, what’s happening here is that you’re trying to get us to say “thing”, so that you can smugly declare that “thing” is already true and has totally happened, and that the only reason we’re still foolishly denying the obvious truth of anthropogenic global warming is that we’re BASTARDS.

      In other words, you’re saying “assholesayswhat?” and hoping we’re dumb enough to say “what?”Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        Actually, I was hoping you could do better, and maybe we could discuss.

        But if the reasons behind your conclusions are really so fragile that they can’t be shown the light of day — well, I’ll let readers judge for themselves what their value is.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          It occurs to me to give you an example of what I’d like from you.

          And so I’ll answer the question for myself…

          Q: Jason, what would it take for you to reject the reality of AGW? What, in other words, is your True Rejection?

          A: Two plausible things at least. (1) Twenty years of global cooling. Or (2) a scientific discovery that explained climate a lot better than the models we have right now and that showed CO2 wasn’t worth worrying about.

          See? For my side, that was easy.Report

          • Avatar kenB says:

            Well, given that action is being urged now, having a True Rejection that requires a minimum of 20 years to be demonstrated isn’t particularly helpful in the context of an argument over AGW.

            Also, it’s sort of a curious thing anyway — why 20 years in particular? Doesn’t seem very scientific. What if even after that 20 years, there’s still a scientific consensus (maybe even more extensive than now) for AGW, and scientists have a plausible explanation for the 20 years of cooling (say, some sort of periodic weather phenomenon that just happened to occur in that span of time that threw off the numbers)?Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              You missed #2, and really, that’s the most important one. If there isn’t an alternative explanation for the existing data, and one that predicts new data as it comes in better than the current explanation, then there’s no reason to reject the current explanation. You can, and should, remain skeptical, because science is never complete, but you should accept that the best explanation says X, and work with that until something better comes along. Denialists aren’t skeptical, they’re obdurate for strictly political reasons. The sad thing is that they think it’s because global warming is a political conspiracy.Report

              • Avatar kenB says:

                If there isn’t an alternative explanation for the existing data, and one that predicts new data as it comes in better than the current explanation, then there’s no reason to reject the current explanation.

                I keep seeing this argument from various people, and I don’t think it’s a very good one taken on its own. Say an economist comes to you and declares that he’s worked out a model and plugged in a bunch of numbers, and he’s determined that the US GNP in 2075 will be X. I don’t have to provide a “better” model in order to plausibly reject his analysis — I can just say that the world is way too complex and unpredictable for him to be able to provide any sort of confidence in that prediction.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … kenb, I’d need to see the numbers on your “I can just say.” Because we can quantify such things.

                I believe that if our current models get things completely offbase, it’s time to junk the models. That they have been somewhat offbase, and have been changed in the direction of more AGW, not less, is a point in the scientists’ favor, on honesty and intelligent inquiry.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Except that you’d be a fool to reject it for entirely that reason.

                Here’s what we have: climate models (not just one) built on multiple data sources arriving at the same conclusion, making predictions that are both short term and long term, and making the same or even more accurate predictions consistent with that conclusion as more and more data comes in. If you reject that simply because you don’t think the world makes enough sense, you’re a fool.Report

              • Avatar kenB says:

                Right, so the question is not “is there a better competing theory” but “does this model provide a high-enough level of confidence to justify taking costly measures to mitigate risk”?Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Well, that’s a different question. The initial question was what is your true rejection. Mine is Jason’s #2, and I think that’s really the one one that makes sense.

                In answer to your question, when all the models say the same thing with a high degree of accuracy and agreement, and continue to do so as data accumulates, then yes, I think the confidence-level is pretty friggin’ high.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              Well, given that action is being urged now, having a True Rejection that requires a minimum of 20 years to be demonstrated isn’t particularly helpful in the context of an argument over AGW.

              I don’t understand what you mean by “helpful” here. A True Rejection doesn’t have to be likely, or timely, or even terribly plausible. For example…

              What’s my True Rejection to my belief that I’m male? One day, I find I have different anatomy.

              Not bloody likely. But that’s what it would take. And the same with AGW — my rejection of it isn’t too likely, and it’s not too timely, either. Sorry if you find that annoying. At least, though, I can state clearly what it would take. Far better than Koz, who appears to believe in the falsity of AGW as something like an analytic truth — nothing could possibly render “mankind has warmed the planet” a true sentence by his lights. Nothing whatsoever.

              As to why I chose 20 years, it was not arbitrary in the least. That’s roughly the time it seems to have taken to build an overwhelming scientific consensus on the matter, and it’s also roughly the amount of time that the planet of late has been decisively getting warmer. A cooling trend of the same length would be enough, I figured, to rattle the consensus. I admit I didn’t consider alternatives too likely.Report

              • Avatar kenB says:

                A True Rejection doesn’t have to be likely, or timely, or even terribly plausible.

                OK. But I suspect that’s not really your True Rejection, nor is the other. Your later statement gets to it:

                A cooling trend of the same length would be enough, I figured, to rattle the consensus

                It’s the consensus that provides your confidence. How would you identify a “better” theory if not by relying on the experts to validate it as “better”? Would you really disbelieve the consensus after 20 years if there was still widespread scientific agreement?

                Re Koz, I don’t see where he’s rejecting AGW itself. There are four basic claims on this topic that tend to get mixed up. Here they are in roughly declining order of confidence:

                1) The earth is warming
                2) it’s at least partially due to human activity
                3) dire consequences will/may result if the trend continues
                4) we can significantly mitigate the risk of #3 by taking drastic action that’s realistically possible.

                I see Koz as attacking 3 and 4, not so much 1 or 2.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                kenb,
                for me at least, I would trust my own damn models if necessary, and I _would_ be writing something if we saw 20 years of global cooling.
                And I know a maverick scientist (designated because he works in too many fields, and gets other people to publish/finish his work). He’s not the type to roll with consensus for no good reason. If he was rather troubled by a period of 20 years of global cooling, I’d be throwing the Global Warming Hypothesis back into the “hypothesis, yet unproven” territory and not “theory with reasonable data to back it” territory.Report

              • Avatar kenB says:

                Well, if you feel confident in your own ability to analyze the data, or if you have a particular trusted source, that puts you in a different position than most people who argue about this topic one way or the other.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … most computer scientists can write a model for climate, with a dash of research. Learning computer science isn’t that difficult.

                I don’t have time to investigate all the research questions I come up with on a weekly basis… but if things were really going haywire, I’d go investigate them. 😉Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Hmmm… Sometimes, Kim, you say things that are so absurd that I think your comments are essentially word association.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Chris,
                in my critical opinion, it’s more interesting to wonder whether I want you to believe my crackpot theories or not. (see the new york times trying to interview a bot story. Do I really want you to think of that as true?)Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Kim, no, someone trying to convince people of something wouldn’t say things that are patently absurd, like Sony has tanks, apple rot causes cancer, or most computer scientists can write a climate model (I’m assuming you meant a functional one, of course).Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Chris,
                okay. most physicists with a background in quantitative modeling can model the climate, with a reasonable amount of research. That more accurately describes my background, anyhow.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “Sorry if you find that annoying. At least, though, I can state clearly what it would take. Far better than Koz, who appears to believe in the falsity of AGW as something like an analytic truth — nothing could possibly render “mankind has warmed the planet” a true sentence by his lights. Nothing whatsoever.”

                Gotta admit Jason, I find this pretty frustrating. If you write complicated things, it’s reasonable to expect them to be misunderstood. But what I wrote seems pretty simple, and looks pretty simple as I read it again. What exactly occurs to you to represent me this way?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Apparently if you don’t agree with one part of the Global Warming Reasoning Chain, you’re required to disagree with the whole thing. “we don’t need to starve in the cold dirty darkness” is exactly equivalent to “nothing man does can ever affect the climate”.Report

    • Avatar Koz says:

      “I’m asking you to use your imagination here. It can be literally anything, even if that thing isn’t real. If the heavens parted and God said “Koz, you’re wrong about this,” would you deny him?”

      Hmmm, this is a weird one. Whatever it is that I missed, I’d probably pick the closest of the three alternatives and associate it with that one.

      “So… we’re facing a massive, worldwide ecological disaster (let’s say). And you’re saying there is no scenario in which one dollar of prevention could ever bring us more than one dollar of benefit? Not even $1.01? Never ever?”

      Well, at the very least I don’t what such a scenario would be if it exists. It’s plausible that there isn’t one, even if we stipulate that AGW is a disaster.

      But, this reverses the idea of logical rudeness. It’s much more coherent for an AGW advocate to say that policy X, Y, or Z creates some extra PV of benefit per $1 of investment today. It’s significant that there’s very little if any advocacy of AGW along those lines.

      (In fact, the one example that I heard of pretended that compound interest didn’t exist. I think that came from the UN or somebody like ten years ago.).Report

  7. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    “Logical argument isn’t about haggling. It’s not about starting high so that in the worst case you end somewhere in the middle. But of course, that is precisely what politics is about. Alas.”

    Alas indeed. What should we do about it?Report

  8. Avatar Russell says:

    Good post. The one thing it doesn’t take into account is that a lot of people don’t have a “true rejection.” So you see some on the left who reflexively oppose international trade agreements, regardless of how important trade is generally or the balance of issues in any particular agreement. Alas, that seems even more true on the right, today. For most, their opposition to global warming isn’t based on anything empirical, but on group creed. Even after every objection they raise is met, they will still oppose it, and cycle back to previous objections. Similarly, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that lowering tax rates raises revenues. Always. Which leads to the mathematical conclusion that a rate of 0% raises the most revenue. The more practical conclusion is that the respondent wants rates as near as zero as they can make them, and will participate in any social maneuver to get that, including the “logical rudeness” you describe.Report

  9. Avatar OhB1Knewbie says:

    Jeezus! I’m not sure if Jason was not clear or if some of those commenting are either hopelessly obstinate or simply dense. Or perhaps I am in a better position having come to Jason’s post having read both of the CATO articles upon which it is predicated. (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish”)

    Let me try to clarify. THIS IS A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT ! The purpose is not to win the argument. The purpose is to attempt a bit of self-examination and reflection. The goal of the game is to tease apart the two portions that form the foundation of any individual’s position. Any individual’s position has as it’s foundation an amalgam of logic/reason and emotion/faith. It is hoped that by separating these two constituents of the foundation that the part based on logic/reason may be examined to determine if in fact it is the True Rejection or if it is actually just a straw dog set up to protect and shield the emotion/faith based portion of the foundation of the individual’s position.

    The underlying thesis is that unless you are addressing the logical foundation rather than the emotional foundation you’re wasting your time and energy. Because only the logical foundation is susceptible to change by the refutation or amending of the facts upon which it is based, only that portion should be addressed while the emotional foundation should be set aside in recognition that it will only change after a long slow simmer in the soup of logic/reason.

    To honestly play the game, a player must search the cosmos of both the possible and the impossible to find something which would, if it were true, change their mind and hence their position. Failure to do so is to lose the game by default because you have refused to play. This is generally interpreted to imply that the logical foundation of your position is in fact only a straw dog intended to protect the emotional foundation which you have no intention of exposing or defending.

    Of course all of this is predicated on the idea that decisions should be based only on logic/reason and not on emotion/faith, the purpose of which is to separate the educated/civilized from the ignorant/barbarian within any individual. The game is structured in recognition of the fact that we are all human and therefore tend to obstruct even ourselves in the honest evaluation of our motives and therefore are assisted by the abstraction of our logic/reason that the game necessitates.

    I hope that helps. If not, well – at least I feel better.Report

  10. Avatar Andy Smith says:

    For an issue as complex as AGW, I don’t know that I could or at least would want to identify a clear-cut true rejection. But I can certainly list some facts/events that would lead me to question seriously my belief in AGW:

    1) A large number of scientists questioning it. There are some scientists who do now, of course, and I don’t believe every last one of them is in the employ of the oil industry, or has some other reason to oppose the implications of AGW (though a great many quite apparently do). I do take seriously the counter-claims of these scientists, and if there were a lot more, I would begin to question AGW more seriously than I do now. But currently it seems that over 90% of scientists working in some relevant area subscribe to some version of AGW. If there really are serious weaknesses with this theory, I would expect to see a much larger opposing group emerge.

    2) As Chris mentions, a more explanatory alternative model. The recently published study of cloud formation provides some support (or so some say) for the cosmic radiation theory, but there is still considerable evidence against this theory (e.g., it doesn’t account for temperature trends occurring several decades ago). But if better evidence for this or some other model were forthcoming, again, I would have greater doubts.

    As I think JK pointed out, it has taken quite a bit of time for the consensus to emerge, and it’s unrealistic to expect it to disappear rapidly under any conditions. There is no single study or finding that would convincingly disprove it at this point. I realize that this true rejection approach is simply a tool to get at our biasses and presumptions, but since what is created by these biasses is so complex and takes so long to form, I think partial rejections or “what would blow some holes in the hull of the ship” might be more appropriate.Report