Home > Critical Thinking, Science & Technology > The Edge of Rationality

The Edge of Rationality

While Al Gore is not in the news much lately, the Globaloney Warming, I mean, Climate Change Fanatics are still at it.  This post provides some data showing that critical thinking hasn’t totally departed the planet…yet.  The original post was in October, 2007.

A modicum of sanity has apparently returned to our cousins on the other side of the pond, as their Court finds that Al Gore’s popular fictionary, An Inconvenient Truth, is decidedly lacking in truth on at least eleven points, and really falls into the category of political propaganda. According to the New Party website [this website is no longer available, however, you can still find the story here and here, where the number of points is reduced to nine], the state of affairs, with the eleven “points to ponder,” is as follows, with emphases added by yours truly:

In order for the film to be shown, the Government must first amend their Guidance Notes to Teachers to make clear that 1.) The Film is a political work and promotes only one side of the argument. 2.) If teachers present the Film without making this plain they may be in breach of section 406 of the Education Act 1996 and guilty of political indoctrination. 3.) Eleven inaccuracies have to be specifically drawn to the attention of school children.

The inaccuracies are:

1. The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.

2. The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.

3. The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute oneoff events to global warming.

4. The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.

5. The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.

6. The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.

7. The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.

8. The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.

9. The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.

10. The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.

11. The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.

Does Mr. Gore have any response to this? It is unclear to me from the source cited (RightWingNews [Sorry, I tried the link I used here but got an Error 404, Page Not Found memo, with the additional message, “Sorry, This page is wanted by the police so it ran away to Antarctica. If You see it, please let us know.”]) whether this was in specific response to this or to previous criticisms and critiques of this baloney, but if he really said this at some point in time, it reveals much about Mr. Gore’s epistemology and commitment to truth (emphasis added):

In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don’t think there’s a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an overrepresentation of factual presentations on how dangerous (global warming) is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.

Really? You do realize what is meant by “overrepresentation of factual presentations,” don’t you? In other words, Mr. Gore can lie through his teeth if it’s for a good cause, “good cause” being something the rest of us idiots don’t realize because we are stuck on the facts. How about overmisrepresentation of the facts? How about, Liar! Liar! Pant’s on fire! (Oops, another contribution to globaloney warming?)

This is just another case of “inaccurate but true.” And here is where we step closer to the edge of the abyss of irrationality. Logic is the foundation for rationality, and all philosophy students learn that one of the most fundamental principles, indeed, a minimal, necessitarian methodological assumption that all humans must make to conduct themselves rationally in this world is the law of noncontradiction. Put philosophically, this law says that something cannot be A and non-A at the same time and in the same relationship. As an example, albeit perhaps not the best one, I can be a father and a son at the same time because they are different relationships. But I cannot be a father and not a father at the same time. Put another way, there is truth and there is falsehood, and it is generally possible to discover the status of any given proposition if the correct questions are asked and the right data is collected.

Mr. Gore’s statement above begs the question, is there a crisis that needs solving? You will note he wants you to assume that there is one, even if he has “overrepresented” the alleged facts. He is the Authority, thou shalt not doubt the Goreacle! But either globaloney warming is true or it is false. Either it is caused by man, or not. And look at the litany of phrases used to describe Gore’s case per the legal evaluation of the scientific evidence: “not correct,” “misleading,” “not possible,” “not the case,” “misread the study,” “scientifically impossible,” “could not find any evidence,” “no such threat,” “a false claim.”

It’s not rocket science, folks. Either you believe the data, or you believe the Authority. But don’t claim that something is true despite the data. That way lies irrationality, and it is a dangerous and stupid thing to dictate policy on irrationality.

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