The NY Times has a sort of amateur hour for pop philosophers whose pontifications can’t be contained by the local Starbucks. They call it “The Opinionator,” with a few categories; one of which is called “The Stone,” for no apparent reason other than I think today’s writer is high.
Today we hear from an actual published author! In The Price of Denialism, Lee McIntyre chastises those of us who have the temerity to challenge the “facts” of Anthropogenic Global WarmingTM and attempt to reconcile the glaring gaps between the raw data and the corrected numbers provided by various interested parties. Apparently there are facts that are simply to be accepted without question. Luckily he provides us with the tools to combat this horrible tendency on the part of some to think for themselves:
A good first step would be to distinguish between skepticism and what has come to be known as denialism. In other words, we need to be able to tell when we believe or disbelieve in something based on high standards of evidence and when we are just engaging in a bit of motivated reasoning and letting our opinions take over. When we withhold belief because the evidence does not live up to the standards of science, we are skeptical. When we refuse to believe something, even in the face of what most others would take to be compelling evidence, we are engaging in denial. In most cases, we do this because at some level it upsets us to think that the theory is true.
This is nothing more than an a priori assumption that AGW is true, simply because he and the right-thinking Übermenschen posit it to be true.
Notice there is no attempt to address the the issue that has us so exercised. No attempt to understand why so many people have legitimate concerns about data being hidden from the public (including other scientists) while it is massaged by complex algorithms designed to reach the only conclusion acceptable to the UN and Greenpeace and Oberlin College and the NY Times. No attempt to appreciate the basic scientific errors being made in the data collection. No attempt to examine the financial and political motivations behind the push for climate change legislation.
What our stoner writer does is a basic rhetorical technique….redirecting the argument from the facts to the integrity and motivation of those who are arguing against his point. Why, it’s almost as if Saul Alinsky has been reincarnated at the NY Times!
He does hit on some basic truths though, but it is an unintentional broadside against the very people he is defending.
So how to tell a fact from an opinion? By the time we sit down to evaluate the evidence for a scientific theory, it is probably too late. If we take the easy path in our thinking, it eventually becomes a habit. If we lie to others, sooner or later we may believe the lie ourselves. The real battle comes in training ourselves to embrace the right attitudes about belief formation in the first place, and for this we need to do a little philosophy.
That sounds like the Climate lunatics preaching the gospel of Global Warming.