Archive for the ‘Critical Thinking’ Category


Silly Kids, Tricks are for Rabbit

October 7, 2009

In response to the 9YQ — the nine-year question: about why it took so damned long for McIntyre and others to get the data — some have protested that the publication policies of Science are such that Briffa et al were obligated to offer up their data immediately upon publication.

In the original Hockey Stick Redux comments section, I replied at several points that there may be other plausible mitigating reasons why Briffa, or his proxies, would be released from fulfilling this alleged requirement.  I also confessed that if it were true that one condition of publication was that all data were categorically open for evaluation, and if it were true that this was a binding rule, then it would also be true that Briffa et al would be obligated to release the data.  I added, however, that it would not necessarily be true that there would not be other conventions that override the prima facie obligation on Briffa et al’s part.  I did not add, but wish I had added, that such a conclusion seems to me incomprehensibly strong, that it would be counterproductive in the extreme.  Scientists and researchers would likely never offer up their findings for publication, and thus, practically speaking, such a rule would be self-defeating.

Those are a lot of conditionals.  Such was my abstract little contribution to this otherwise scintillating debate.


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Small Fish

September 30, 2009

As usual, Jon Stewart presents trenchant analysis of and commentary on Sean Hannity’s recent bugaboo, the Delta Smelt:

Jon Stewart

What I appreciate about this, and what is nice about most of the humor on the Daily Show, is that the laughs depend not on silly equivocations or puns, as much humor does, but rather on identifying and calling attention to the variety of informal fallacies that politicians and political pundits employ. That’s the modus operandi of the Daily Show, and I often point out in my critical thinking classes that the best way to learn about the variety of informal (and in some cases formal) fallacies is not necessarily by sticking one’s nose in a textbook, but by watching the Daily Show.

So here, yes, the survival of salmon fisheries is a relevant fact to the allocation of water, just as Stewart notes. It’s a relevant economic fact, and it’s an equally relevant political fact. Similarly, the internal contradiction of lambasting government subsidies, while at the same time depending on government subsidies, demonstrates the inanity of Hannity’s faux stance.