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Carl Sagan’s Tools for Baloney Detection #3

3. Arguments from authority carry little weight-“authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They
will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.

I find this a lot in the global warming climate change debate.  A lot of authorities proclaim that global warming could only be man made.  Never mind the wild fluctuations in the past, and evidence of high levels of CO2 combined with lower temperatures.  There are experts in various aspects of climatology, but there is no such thing as a climatologist.  It’s too big and encompassing for anyone to be an expert in every single aspect of it.  It’s just like doctors, either they are general practitioners, or they are specialists in a field, not all or even some fields of medicine.  They have an understanding of what’s going on in other areas, but they rely on specialists in those fields.  I believe global warming is going on, but it’s not man made.  The only piece of evidence proving that global warming is man made is climate modeling.  In other words, we program computers to produce the results we are looking for.  This is called bias confirmation.  Everything else is pure speculation.

Ironically, I diverge from Carl Sagan’s belief in man-made global warming.

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Carl Sagan’s Tools for Baloney Detection #2

2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.

On the fringes of science, and well into the areas of conspiracy theory, there is no debate on “evidence.”  There is only one view, everything else is to be discarded.  The power of debate allows for a clearer picture and interpretation of the evidence to emerge.  In numerous cases, where people have come up with theories that go against the grain, debate and analysis of evidence has allowed a greater understanding to emerge.  For instance, stress was thought to cause ulcers, but one doctor noticed that patients had high levels of a certain bacteria that could be contributing to ulcers, he was mocked.  Turns out he was right.  Stress inhibits he bodies immune system allowing the bacteria to flourish.  In this instance, both sides were right, just one side had a clearer picture of what was happening.

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Carl Sagan’s Tools for Baloney Detection #1

1. Whenever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”

One of the things the Army taught me was if it’s important they’re lying.  A rather caustic view, but one that has proven too true.  There are more Army “regulations” than has ever been printed.  I had too many leaders and “barracks lawyers” quote fake regulations to me than I can possibly recount.  One good one was told to me when I wasn’t allowed to stop working to eat dinner.  “You are paid not to eat.”  Wow!  If only it were that simple.  Why not pay me more not to sleep?  The regulations stated that I had to be provided time to eat.  That time did not have to coincide with the chow hall hours.  For example, if the chow hall was open from 11:30 to 1:00, I could be sent to lunch from 10:00 to 2:00.  But I had to be allowed to go eat.  This was just one example of the great leadership provided by the Army.

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Carl Sagan Quote

Education on the value of free speech and the other freedoms reserved by the Bill of Rights, about what happens when you don’t have them, and about how to exercise and protect them, should be an essential prerequisite for being an American citizen – or indeed a citizen of any nation, the more so to the degree that such rights remain unprotected.  If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power.  But if citizens are educated and for their own opinions, then those in power work for us. – Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World.

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Function of the citizens

It is not the function of the government to keep the citizens from falling into error, it is the function of the citizens to keep the government from falling into error. – U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Robert H Jackson, 1950

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Latin Proverb

Ubi dubium ibi libertas

Where there is doubt, there is freedom.

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Two Presidential Views

Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity? – Ronald Reagan, campaign speech, 1980

There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature.  Knowledge is in every country and the surest basis of public happiness. – George Washington, address to Congress, January 8, 1790

Wow!  What a difference.

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Word of the Day

colonus
noun:
1: farmer
2. colonist, colonial, inhabitant

Came across this while reading about the Roman empire.  A colonus was essentially a serf.  Free, but tied to the land and could not travel.  Colo is apparently root for cultivate, till.  Which makes it obvious why colonies were called what they were.

I bet you thought it was going to be about the colon.  Now, how is the root colo and colon related?  In politics, where politician cultivate a lot of shit.  Maybe they could be called … colonicians?

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Word of the Day

hector
noun
1: (Greek mythology) a mythical Trojan who was killed by Achilles during the Trojan War
verb
1: be bossy towards
synonym: strong-arm, bully, browbeat, bullyrag, ballyrag, boss around, push around

Etymology

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The cruelty of truth

We also know how cruel the truth often is, and we wonder whether delusion is not more consoling. – Henri Poincare

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