What exactly is critical thinking?

by Judith Curry

Everyone applauds the idea of critical thinking, and liberal arts colleges often make their ability to teach critical thinking a key selling point. But no one seems to define what they mean by that term. – Paul Gary Wyckoff

Paul Gary Wyckoff has written a good essay in Inside Higher Ed, entitled What exactly is critical thinking?  The essay is short, and I reproduce it here in its entirety:

As I prepared for the start of classes this fall, I tried to pinpoint the critical thinking skills I really want my students to learn. And as I listened to public debates on everything from tax policy to Obamacare, five essential thinking skills seemed to be missing, again and again. So, based on our dysfunctional national dialogue, here are the “core competencies” I hope to instill in my students:

1. The ability to think empirically, not theoretically. By this I mean the habit of constantly checking one’s views against evidence from the real world, and the courage to change positions if better explanations come along. I have great admiration for scholars like Richard Muller, the University of California physicist and global warming skeptic, whose work was heavily funded by the conservative Koch brothers. When new, more comprehensive data from his own research team provided convincing evidence of global temperature increases, Muller changed his mind, and later sounded the alarm about carbon dioxide emissions.Unfortunately, however, much of our public debate on many issues seems to be a clash of theoretical world views, with neither side willing to dispassionately examine the evidence or modify their views. In Congress, the individuals most willing to change their minds – the moderates – have been systematically driven out by more extreme candidates who are dedicated to holding fast to their predetermined positions, regardless of subsequent facts.

2. The ability to think in terms of multiple, rather than single, causes. When you drop a book, it will fall on the floor — a single-cause event. But most of the interesting things in the world have multiple causes; educational success, for example, is affected by a student’s aptitude, but also by the educational achievements of the student’s parents, the quality of the school he or she attends, and the attitudes and intelligence of the other students in that school. In such cases, simple comparisons become unreliable guides to action, because the effects of intervening variables haven’t been screened out. So, for example, judging a president by Reagan’s famous question – “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” – implicitly assumes that presidential actions are the only variable affecting the economy. This is, of course, nonsense – our globalized economy is affected by a huge variety of factors, including exchange rates, oil prices, the fate of the European Union, the strength of the Chinese economy, and so on. In these situations, we need higher-order analysis that adjusts for these external factors to gauge the true effect of a policy.

3. The ability to think in terms of the sizes of things, rather than only in terms of their direction. Our debates are largely magnitude-free, but decisions in a world with constrained resources always demand a sense of the sizes of various effects. For example, President Obama contends that investments in education and infrastructure are crucial to the nation’s future growth. And it makes intuitive sense that better-educated workers would be more productive, and that repaired highways could transport goods to market more quickly and at lower cost. But Republicans are dead-set against new taxes to pay for these investments. In such a polarized situation, the only way to finance these programs would be to borrow money, and these days much of the government’s borrowed funds are supplied by overseas investors from places like China and Japan. The interest payments on government bonds, then, are a real hindrance to economic growth. The wisdom of these investments, therefore, depends critically on the magnitude of the two effects. How big are the payoffs from investments in education and infrastructure? How much of our debt is owned by foreigners, and what interest rate will we have to pay to them? These kinds of debates cannot be solved by looking only at the direction of anticipated effects, because without quantification, we have no basis for comparison of those effects. In politics and policy, size matters.

4. The ability to think like foxes, not hedgehogs. In his seminal book, Expert Political Judgment, Philip Tetlock followed Isaiah Berlin in distinguishing between hedgehogs, who know one big thing and apply that understanding to everything around them, and foxes, who know many small things and pragmatically apply a “grab bag” of knowledge to make modest predictions about the world. In his study of hundreds of foreign policy experts over 20 years, Tetlock showed that foxes outperform hedgehogs in making predictions, and hence tend to make better decisions. But our current political climate favors hedgehogs, because they tend to be more confident, forceful, and predictable in their views. Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate can be seen as an attempt by a fox (Romney) to capture some of the allure and excitement surrounding a hedgehog (Ryan).

5. The ability to understand one’s own biases. An expanding literature in psychology and behavioral economics suggests that we are full of unconscious biases, and a failure to understand these biases contributes to poor decision-making. Perhaps the most common and dangerous of these is confirmation bias, the tendency to seek out information in accordance with our previous views and ignore or dismiss information contrary to those views. This undermines our ability to weigh the evidence in an evenhanded manner. Our media culture reinforces this problem, as liberals have their MSNBC, The Nation, The New York Times and think tanks like the Center for American Progress, while conservatives have their Fox News, the National Review, The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation. In the current world, no one need bear the inconvenience of contrary information.

In general, our public debates are textbook examples of non-critical thinking. But these five traits can provide a foundation for a more enlightened dialogue in the future. And students with these skills will think about their world in a deeper, more constructive way.

JC comments:  It is certainly a challenge to instill critical thinking into the academic curriculum, and insufficient attention is paid to this.  Lets take this opportunity to critique ourselves (the Denizens of Climate Etc.) in this regard.

422 responses to “What exactly is critical thinking?

  1. I applied all five of these to myself, and you know what? I’m still right!

  2. I teach under more, visual, lateral and critical thinking at the Maastricht School of Management (The Netherlands). I found an interresting and very practical reference book by Stella Cottrell: Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument (Palgrave MacMillan, Publishers, 2nd edition, 2011) [isbn 13 978 0 230 28529 3] (paperback edition).

    I have absolutely no link with neither the author nor the editor, but all the echoes I heared about this book from my students are extremely positive. I can only simply recommend it. I hope the readers will enjoy as much as I did.

  3. Possibly Prof. Wyckoff could apply his critical thinking to detect Prof. Muller’s decades-long belief in AGW before his recent conversion to… AGW.

    • “Some scientists, such as Richard A. Muller, believe that geomagnetic reversals are not spontaneous processes but rather are triggered by external events that directly disrupt the flow in the Earth’s core.” Wikipedia. Even though external (impact) events correlate poorly with reversals. Internal events though, that unforced variability bugaboo, do tend to correlate. So climate science, like critical thinking requires a little introspection during the precession of time :)

    • The lack of critical thinking demonstrated in a discussion of critical thinking does tend to reduce his credibility just a tad.

  4. Prof. Wyckoff’s list is good but my impression is that many people, especially liberals, believe they adhere to such a checklist and don’t.

    I suggest simply studying the standard rhetorical fallacies and practice applying them to speeches, editorials, blog comments etc.

    • Prof. Wyckoff’s list is good but my impression is that many people, especially liberals, believe they adhere to such a checklist and don’t.

      The irony at this site is truly stunning sometimes.

      One wonders what might happen if huxley actually tried to apply these principles of critical thinking even as he opines about people other than himself differentially fail at critical thinking, and even more, people a particular political ideology correlates with degrees of critical thinking?

      The first step, huxly, would be to formulate some causal theory to support your explanation. Please, give that a try. I’d be very interested to read it.

      • Joshua: That is my impression. I stand by it. I was liberal for most of my life. I became conservative as I found myself unable to maintain that position. I noticed that most of my liberal friends believed they were open-minded, but almost never read both sides of the issue.

        I did say it was an impression not a hard fact of reality. Your first step, Joshua, would be to read comments more carefully.

      • The fact that you have changed your political orientation is, in no way, an indication that you are above bias.

        So let’s hear your explanation for the causality, huxley. What is the mechanism by which liberals are more likely to mistakenly think that they adhere to practices of critical thinking? Is there some mechanism by which being liberal affects ones brain? Is there some mechanism by which having a certain cognitive attribute leads someone to be liberal? And if either of those is the case, then how do you reconcile that with your switch from being a liberal to being a conservative?

        Do you have any quantified and/or validated evidence to back up your impression?

        If not, don’t you think that it’s rather ironic that as a “conservative” your are saying that liberals are more fail to check their views against the evidence?

      • Joshua: I don’t claim to be above bias and I never claimed to be above bias.

        I said it was my impression. I added that my impression was based on subtantial experience as a well-informed advocate from both sides, which I suspect you do not have.

      • . I added that my impression was based on subtantial experience as a well-informed advocate from both sides,

        So what? My “impression” is that your personal experience isn’t germane to the issue we’re discussing. Your having been an advocate on both sides in no way implies that you are any less biased.

        Again, I ask you – what is the causal mechanism you offer to help substantiate your analysis? Do you have any? Why would “liberals” be more out of touch with critical thinking than “conservatives?” How does that work?

        Do you have some theory? Something about brain chemistry? I’ve asked you these questions a couple of times now. What are your answers?

      • Joshua: You’re welcome to your impression. Feel free to declaim your opposing impression, assuming you oppose my impression and are not just playin your usual devils advocate.

        You can proclaim your opposition to the high heavens for all I care.

        Nonetheless, if I want to add two words about my impression, I will. If you don’t like it, you can say so, and that’s fine with me. Am I allowed to have my impression about liberals?

      • Simple causal hypothesis: Liberal self-image is tied up in being smart. Conservative self-image is tied up in being strong. (Both want to be virtuous, though in different ways, so that cancels out.) So a conservative is more likely to admit that he doesn’t understand something and try to learn from others. A liberal is more likely to face image-threat from having his ideas disconfirmed because it makes him worry that he isn’t smart.

        Counterargument: A really smart liberal wants to prove his objectivity to himself, so will go out of his way to try to avoid confirmation bias. Also will be afraid of being wrong in public, which will reinforce his caution. Conservatives, on the other hand, may fear that changing their minds makes them look weak.

        Synthesis: Smarter liberals are likely to be more open minded than conservatives, who may see conceding on a point where they’re not sure as weak, but average conservatives are likely to be more open-minded than average liberals due to the self-image threat.

        Now, how would you test something like that?

    • Steven Mosher

      Huxely.

      perhaps you should examine your own biases against “liberals”.
      Instead, hedgehog like, you apply the same tool to every problem.
      You havent thought empirically, you’ve applied a pet theory about liberals.
      It seems like when you find something you take issue with “liberalism” must be the cause. There are many causes to why people don’t think critically, first and foremost perhaps is the fact that thinking critically doesnt always work.
      A) sometime a theoretical as opposed to an empirical approach gets the job done.
      B) searching for one dominate cause as opposed to analysis paralysis of multiple causes is sometimes the better path.
      C) Hedgehogs make great team members if a fox knows how to manage people.
      D) Bias can be a great tool if properly managed and balanced. The whole red team/blue approach works because of it.

      Critical thinking, to be critical, is just another tool. Liberals can use that tool. Conservatives can use that tool. There is nothing inherent in one’s political philosophy that determines the tools one chooses to use.

      Everything is not political.

      • Mosher: Again, I was liberal for most of my life. I know both sides better than most people. On that basis, I said it was my impression believe that they are abiding by Wycoff’s list. Indeed Wyckoff himself demonstrates his bias against conservatives quite well in the examples he chose.

        I’m not terribly interested in being lectured by you or Joshua on this score. Perhaps you should read my posts more carefully, rather than jump to conclusions about how biased I am.

      • Perhaps you should understand the first word in my comment. two can play the..my impression.. game. what we can agree on is that your impression may be wrong. it would be harder for you to liberals clearly. you understand why that would be. right?

      • Mosher: “Perhaps” you should understand that I choose my words carefully. “Perhaps” it is possibly that one side or the other could be more likely to believe that they are exercising critical thinking but not really.

        You understand why that would be, right?

      • Steven Mosher

        i do understand that you chse your weasel word wisely. which is why i wrote perhaps–hoping that you be smart enough to see that i had chosen wisely as well. alas i overestimated your abilities

      • “Everything is not political.”

        Not true. Lots of things are political. Of course, not everything is political, but so many things are that saying that everything isn’t political simply flies in the face of facts.

      • > Not true.

        Was that a political statement?

      • PBS recently demonstrated how Liberals say they examine both sides of an issue then proceed to try and muzzle an opposing perspective.

      • Mosher, The term “Liberal” has completely lost its meaning.
        Suffice it to read this column above and see the examples the author has chosen to know EXACTLY what are his views and what is his way of thinking. For instance, he could have chosen another person who changed his mind (really, not for the records only), such as James Lovelock…
        Liberalism used to be about accepting the different views of people. Not any more.
        It seems Huxely’s real mistake is he neglected to put the term in parentheses.

  5. When one side of an issue uses images to connote facts that are false — e.g., think of the stranded polar bear on a floating berg or the surprised look on the little girl;s face to insinate she was being mooned by Romney — then, your job of critical thinking should jump to why they’re lying not if they lie.

  6. Pingback: Critical Thinking | Professor Brian Blais' Blog

  7. Critical thinking is something every human being is convinced both to have, and to share with just a handful of other human beings.

  8. #1 – Muller was never a climate skeptic – this has been very well documented in his own words. He agreed entirely with the consensus on the effects of CO2 on the atmosphere. He was only ever skeptical of apocalyptic claims of some advocates, and of the paleo-climate Team. To use and accept empirical evidence, one needs to KNOW the empirical evidence.
    #2. – Example used – the conservative (Reagan) was wrong.
    #3. – Example used – the liberal (Obama) policy is the intuitively correct one, and the conservatives stand in the way.
    #4. – Example used – the conservative (Romney) goes against accepted wisdom in choice of running mate.

    #5. – “The ability to understand one’s own biases?!”

    So critical thinking (for a liberal academic) means understanding how one’s ideological opponents get things wrong. And he says it with a straight face. Because everyone he knows agrees with him.

    Sorry Dr Curry, but critical thinking begins at home. As for me, I find that a major portion of the denizens are incapable of thinking critically. They parrot what they’ve read somewhere incessantly, and seem incapable of responding to the topic at hand. Then there are those who actually discuss climate topics, but are only interested in fringe topics, and never look at the big picture. The arctic ice cap has, in fact, shrunk dramatically over recent years. The inability to admit that the fact is a good point for the opposition does not flatter them. Those who never grant their opponents a good point are difficult to take seriously.

    All in all, I rarely find a commenter here who I could say I stand with in any but the most limited sense. And I consider myself a strong skeptic of what has become the consensus on AGW – the apocalyptic version. I’m a luke-warmer, and my skepticism is rational and scientifically based. I consider the certainty of climate scientists on this matter to be pure hubris. Climate science was a backwater of physics until very recently. I can find no evidence that they now understand all of their chaotic subject – if they did, they could explain all the changes that have gone on over billions of years. They base their certainty on being able to hindcast for a few decades out of those billions. I am not impressed.

    Climate science is not a rigorous science. There are no experiments, much less any repeated experiments. Climate science is based on physics, but it is totally lacking the rigor of science. And when they claim that the results of model runs as data, they lose me. I don’t deny the science, I point out how poor the science is, compared to the claims.

    The best criticism of myself is that I lack the technical background and the knowledge of the literature to be able to detail failures. But my criticisms are not in the details of the work. They are in the sum totals of work – how they do – or don’t – add up. And the inability of the field to police their own stands as a black mark against them – and as a legitimate cause for skepticism of their own work.

    • markbul | October 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Reply

      The best criticism of myself is that I lack the technical background and the knowledge of the literature to be able to detail failures. But my criticisms are not in the details of the work. They are in the sum totals of work – how they do – or don’t – add up. And the inability of the field to police their own stands as a black mark against them – and as a legitimate cause for skepticism of their own work.

      You are the perfect example of uncritical thinking and the hubris that goes along with it. Critical thinking is about the little details found in the weeds, not the 20,000-ft fly-by of the big picture.

      Your focus on political views is more evidence that your thinking style is superficial and verbal. The exact opposite of what is required in science and engineering. In your defense, I’m sure the ladies at the nail salon are impressed with your diatribes.

      • “Your focus on political views is more evidence that your thinking style is superficial and verbal.” That focus is the exact outcome to be expected under Post-Normal Science.

        “The exact opposite of what is required in science and engineering.” Indeed, politics is the “opposite of what is required in science and engineering.”

        Carlin, Alan. “Comments on Draft Technical Support Document for Endangerment Analysis for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under the Clean Air Act (Based on TSD Draft of March 9, 2009).” Scientific Blog. Carlin Economics and Science, March 16, 2009. http://www.carlineconomics.com/files/pdf/end_comments_7b1.pdf

        I do not maintain that I or anyone else have all the answers needed to take action now. Some of the conclusions reached in these comments may well be shown to be incorrect by future research. My conclusions do represent the best science in the sense of most closely corresponding to available observations that I currently know of, however, and are sufficiently at variance with those of the IPCC, CCSP, and the Draft TSD that I believe they support my increasing concern that EPA has not critically reviewed the findings by these other groups.
        As discussed in these comments, I believe my concerns and reservations are sufficiently important to warrant a serious review of the science by EPA before any attempt is made to reach conclusions on the subject of endangerment from GHGs. I believe that this review should start immediately and be a continuing effort as long as there is a serious possibility that EPA may be called upon to implement regulations designed to reduce global warming. The science has and undoubtedly will continue to change and EPA must have the capability to keep abreast of these changes if it is to successfully discharge its responsibilities. The Draft TSD suggests to me that we do not yet have that capability or that we have not used what we have.

        ———. “Comments on Proposed EPA Endangerment Technical Support Document.” Scientific Blog. Carlin Economics and Science, July 9, 2009. http://www.carlineconomics.com/archives/1

        On June 25th the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a draft copy of my report critical of the science underlying EPA’s proposed position on Endangerment under the Clean Air Act and the role of CO2 in global warming saying:
        “The released report is a draft version, prepared under EPA’s unusually short internal review schedule, and thus may contain inaccuracies which were corrected in the final report. While we hoped that EPA would release the final report, we’re tired of waiting for this agency to become transparent, even though its Administrator has been talking transparency since she took office. So we are releasing a draft version of the report ourselves, today,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman.
        CEI noted that: Internal EPA email messages, released by CEI earlier that week, indicate that in their view the report was kept under wraps and that I was silenced because of pressure to support the Administration’s agenda of regulating carbon dioxide.

      • Dr. Alan Carlin’s academic qualifications and CV are here:
        http://www.carlineconomics.com/about

      • Re “silenced”:
        Kazman, Sam. Letter to Environmental Protection Agency. “Re: Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171”, June 23, 2009.
        http://cei.org/cei_files/fm/active/0/Endangerment%20Comments%206-23-09.pdf
        Email # 3, Page 2: March 17 email from Mr. McGartland to Mr. Carlin, stating that he will not forward Mr. Carlin’s study.
        “The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision.…
        “I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.”

    • Steven Mosher

      #1 – Muller was never a climate skeptic – this has been very well documented in his own words. He agreed entirely with the consensus on the effects of CO2 on the atmosphere. He was only ever skeptical of apocalyptic claims of some advocates, and of the paleo-climate Team. To use and accept empirical evidence, one needs to KNOW the empirical evidence.

      lets compare him with Anthony Watts.

      1. Critical of mann’s Hockey Stick? Watts: yes; Muller yes
      2. Critical of Actions in Climategate: Watts yes; Muller yes.
      3. Critcial of the land record: Watts yes, Muller yes.
      4. Believes C02 will cause warming: Watts yes; Muller yes.

      I guess you have a choice to make. what does it mean to be a skeptic.

      • David L. Hagen

        Steven Mosher
        May I encourage you to extend your effort in critical thinking to Watts’ latest paper. See Watts et al. 2012 draft

        Well sited stations consistently show a significantly lower trend than poorly sited stations, no matter which class of station is used for a baseline for comparison, and also when using no baseline at all. Comparisons demonstrate that NOAA adjustment processes fail to adjust poorly sited stations downward to match the well sited stations, but actually adjusts the well sited stations upwards to match the poorly sited stations. Well sited rural stations show a warming nearly three times less before USHCNv2 adjustments are applied. It is also demonstrated that urban sites warm more rapidly than semi-urban sites, which in turn warm more rapidly than rural sites. We document this large urban bias in station siting on the U.S. Historical Climate Network. We find these factors, combined with station siting issues, have led to a spurious doubling of U.S. mean temperature trends in the 30 year data period covered by the study from 1979 – 2008.

      • come on we know the Watts initial draft is wrong, and so the conclusion you quote is unsupported.

      • David L. Hagen

        lolwot
        You provide no evidence. Consequently your comment has no scientific value.

      • David

        You are so right. Mr. Wot is totally unscientific to the max. He, nor anyone else in the whole entire Universe, does not know if Watts, et al 2012 is complete garbage or the second coming because Watts has refused to share data and code with the public, thereby preventing a full and complete vetting of the work that they withdrew in shame and embarrassment.

        Mr. Wot should have stated that anyone quoting the Watts non-paper is not a thinker. What do you think?

      • David L. Hagen

        Howard
        From my preliminary reading, the thorough work on the Surface Stations project, and the quality of his co-authors, I know that Watt’s draft cannot be “complete garbage”. Based on the foremost authority on the issue, I know it cannot be the second coming. cf Acts 1:7
        Watts et al. are to be commended for posting preliminary draft for peer review discussion and incorporating that feedback.
        I look forward to their completed paper. I expect that the data and code will be made available for verification at that time.

        PS I look forward to growing in wisdom and knowledge and elevating the level of your posts. You could begin by constructing grammatical sentences, logical arguments, and addressing the scientific issues involved.

      • David L. Hagen

        Howard
        Correction: “PS I look forward to YOUR growing in wisdom and knowledge . . .”

      • lurker, passing through laughing

        So Watts still thinks there is warming. Just less than some others.
        Mosher is right on.

      • Too clever by half. #4 is the real litmus test as to skepticism, but it’s a matter of degree. Hard pressed these days with the exception of some stubborn outliers, to find anyone who doesn’t accept that Co2 causes *some* warming.

      • +1 a real Litmus test with degrees.

      • Hard pressed these days with the exception of some stubborn outliers, to find anyone who doesn’t accept that Co2 causes *some* warming.

        Not hard at all. They are all over these threads – despite the oft’ made claims that they are so few in number. And they exist in large numbers outside of the confines of this particular website.

        http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/q50.jpg

      • I guess you have a choice to make. what does it mean to be a skeptic.

        The problem, Steven, is that would require critical thinking. Fairly ironic given:

        They parrot what they’ve read somewhere incessantly,…

        By what application of objective criteria is this following statement supported?:

        #1 – Muller was never a climate skeptic – this has been very well documented in his own words.

        First, one would need to reach some unarguable definition of “skeptic,” – which I would argue is impossible. And secondly, even if one could do that, one would need to prove that all of Muller’s statements, all of them, conform to only one side of that definition – something that I would suspect (can’t say for sure until a definition is provided) would not be possible given the largely contradictory statements Muller has made.

        I think that this thread will top the all time Climate Etc., irony charts; I’ve already seen quite a few that would be first-ballot entries into the Climate Etc. Irony Hall of Fame.

      • that was the paper anthony took down because of questions raised by zeke and me. Im still waiting for

        a. his ranking
        b. the photos he used to rank
        c. the code.
        d. the field experiments leroy conducted to establish the rankings.

        when he actually produces a-d i will look at it. but if he plays the same data hiding code hiding grey literature games im not inclined to waste my time

      • David Springer

        Watts has a real funny way of taking a paper down given its prominent perpetual advertisement at the top of his blog.

        http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/watts_et_al_2012_button.png?w=180&h=180

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        If the Watts paper is ever finalized, for it to be valid, it will have to modified significantly from the original, which was simply hurried up as a reaction to Muller’s editorial coming out.

      • “4. Believes C02 will cause warming: Watts yes; Muller yes.”

        They are pseudo skeptics. They are real CO2 believers the difference is with Watt has a coat of skeptic and Muller naked.

      • That should be
        4x. Believes MAN MADE C02 has caused recent warming: Watts NO; Muller yes.

        Muller was never a AGW skeptic.

      • Mosher tells a wopper by obfuscation.
        “4. Believes C02 will cause warming: Watts yes; Muller yes.”
        the truth is
        4x. Believes MAN MADE C02 will cause warming: Watts NO; Muller yes.

        Muller was never a AGW skeptic.

      • So Muller did not change his mind at all. He (according to Mosher) allways thought like Watts.

    • “The arctic ice cap has, in fact, shrunk dramatically over recent years. ”

      I assume you mean arctic polar sea sea. Rather than Greenland.

      “The inability to admit that the fact is a good point for the opposition does not flatter them. Those who never grant their opponents a good point are difficult to take seriously. ”

      I believe we could see the polar sea ice be what is called “ice free” in a summer before the year 2100- meaning most polar sea ice area [rather actually all ocean areas including bordering Greenland].
      And given that think there has been global warming since the end of the Little Ice Age, I expect such changes to occur.
      But quite different then wild prediction in 2007 which considered we would be ice free by 2012 [within 5 years].

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        “I believe we could see the polar sea ice be what is called “ice free” in a summer before the year 2100- meaning most polar sea ice area [rather actually all ocean areas including bordering Greenland].
        And given that think there has been global warming since the end of the Little Ice Age, I expect such changes to occur.
        But quite different then wild prediction in 2007 which considered we would be ice free by 2012 [within 5 years].”

        _____
        The 2007 prediction of 2012 for an ice free summer Arctic was a bit extreme (but just a bit). Comparing “before the year 2100″ as a prediction to “by 2012″, as it seems 2016-2020 seems increasingly likely for a summer ice-free condition in the Arctic, 2012 is closer to this time frame than the year 2100 is. Thus, the “wild” 2007 prediction showed a better grasp of the the underlying sea ice dynamics, which is of course driven by the extreme loss of sea ice volume, shown by PIOMAS modeling in and confirmed by CryoSat-2 data this summer.

  9. What exactly is critical thinking?
    Critical thinking would require that those that lie, falsify, steal, or in any way misuse the public trust, will go to jail and pay back the cost of their crimes.

    So, how are we doing?

  10. I agree with Wyckoff. I can’t think of anything to add to his list, but I will give it more thought.

  11. Dr. Curry, a good posting. The need for critical thinking is pervasive, and is the core topic of my forthcoming book, The Arts of Truth. Examples contain the essence of three previous guest postings here, plus much more on very different subjects like education and healthcare. As important as what critical thinking is, equally important is what it is not. A set of “artful techniques” appear over and over in ‘informed’ discussion to obscure or confound ‘truth’. The last chapter uses climate change to illustrate everything previously discussed with other examples. I hope that you and some of your readers will find it interesting, perhaps even entertaining.
    It is in press, and should be available next month.

    • My own book, The Art: Soft Ruth, a retrospective of iconoclastic renderings of Old Testament female figures through the ages, is due to go to press next summer.

      Artful techniques including brush selection, use of the palette knife, and tempura vs. burnt ochre will be discussed at length. (There will be a brief discussion of agitprop and pseudoreligious appeal to dogma as a sidebar on the page covering proportion.)

      There’s not much education or healthcare in the Old Testament, or the next US President’s budget, so those won’t be discussed much.

      There will be a chapter on how climate change affects preservation and restoration of oils, in particular in Italian works.

      I hope no Denizens bother with it, as I’m not overly impressed with the level of aesthetic appreciation here.

  12. Re #5 The ability to understand one’s own biases.

    I know I have biases, but I’m not sure I fully understand how they came about. I guess some go back to childhood.

  13. Nulius in verba…magistri.

  14. Pete in Dublin

    Masterful piece of fisking by markbul, the Prof is outed by a complete failure to recognise his own confirmation bias, seems he is unable to think critically according to the 5 points in his own essay.

    • I don’t think you’ve grasped what “confirmation bias” and “critical thinking” are.

      • Pete in Dublin

        I think markbul and I identified prejudice and/or bias in the examples the good doctor supplied in 4 of his 5 points. And since critical thinking (according to wikipedia) “includes identification of prejudice, bias, propaganda, self-deception, distortion, misinformation, etc”, I believe some critical thinking was demonstrated. But thank-you for your rational and fulsome critique of my capabilities.

  15. Joe's World(progressive evolution)

    Judith,

    Again, you ONLY see what your brain has been taught to follow.

    That book you dropped did far more than you are considering such as displacing the atmosphere with the density of the book falling.
    When it hits the floor, does it open or is closed?
    What is under the book?
    What is the book made of?
    Did the book hit something on the way down?

    No, you just see a single incident in a complicated process.

  16. What is the sound of a book, falling…

  17. 6. The ability to consider whether the working axioms are true axioms, and are really working.

  18. What is Wyckoff’s field? I doubt it addresses the USA Constitution. Neither education nor ‘infra-structure’ is a national responsibility; hence, both are proper concerns for either market opportunities or governments at other levels [Magnitude vs Direction - Wyckoff].

    !rhetoric alert: apply Critical Thinking
    re ‘dead-set’
    “… But Republicans are dead-set against new taxes to pay for these investments. In such a polarized situation, …”

    The author’s self-esteem seems elevated.

  19. David L. Hagen

    Congress encouraged critical thinking
    A legislated recommendation for teaching critical thinking made its way into the Congressional Report on the No Child Left Behind Act, (via the Santorum Amendment):

    “The Conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.”

    (Emphasis added). See Santorum Amendment, Congressional Record, June 13, 2001, p. S6147-S6148; and the 2001-107th Congress-1st Session-House of Representatives Report-107 334 No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 Conference Report to accompany H.R. 1.

    There are many “philosophical claims” regarding “climate change” (aka “global warming” aka “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”) that are made “in the name of (climate) science”. This Santorum Amendment language should continue to support educators’ efforts today to teach “critical thinking” regarding climate science.

    May educators indeed “help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society “, including on the evidence, models, ethics, and policies on anthropogenic global warming.

    PS For the import of this language see the letter by Boehner, Gregg & Santorum. Similarly see the legal review by David DeWolf, The “Teach the Controversy” Controversy, Univ. St. Thomas J. Law & Public Policy especially pp 339-340.

    Conference Report language is often used by courts as a supplement to statutory language itself and, so long as there is no conflict with the statutory language, is treated as part of the statute itself.

    See further background, links.

    • The motive for the stuff you quote is to get creationism taught in schools.

      I guess it’ll be useful for climate denial too though.

      • If you taught that in US schools it should be taught as a part of a class examining various superstious beliefs.

      • not if some people have their way

      • David L. Hagen

        lolwot
        Your post is a classic example of why the “Santorum Amendment” was needed to promote “critical” thinking to address the full range of scientific issues involved rather than superficial rhetoric. I recommend you study the issues at least sufficiently to distinguish between “evolution” (including “atheistic evolution”, “theistic evolution”); “scientific creationism” versus “biblical creationism”; and “intelligent design”.

        The scientific method is founded on objective evidence, formulating hypotheses, and testing those against the evidence. Your burden is to show how the Origin Of Life (OOL) to a self reproducing cell, and then to macro evolution within unguided stochastic (random) processes using the four laws of nature. To date I have seen no mathematically sound example. e.g., see quantitative evidence on mutations by Douglas D. Axe, or Michael Behe. See resources at the Evolutionary Informatics Lab. Compare Hubert P. Yockey, or Fred Hoyle.

        A similar methodology can be applied to studying the range of issues in “climate science”.

      • David Springer

        David L. Hagen | October 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply

        +1

      • Humans are an intelligent design? HA HA !

        I could use another set of arms and some eyes in the back of my head.

      • David L. Hagen

        Max_OK
        Your ability to think, laugh, use your arms, eyesight at least are evidence of intelligent design, as is the controlled energy you leverage, the design of the computer and communication systems you are using, the coded communications, grammar, purpose and intention in your communication. None of that can be explained by stochastic processes based on the 4 laws. Cf Werner Gitt, In the Beginning was Information, and William Dembski etc.
        PS Scoffing is not a scientific argument.

      • David L. Hagen | October 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm |

        “The scientific method is founded on objective evidence, formulating hypotheses, and testing those against the evidence.”

        Since you’re such a fan of argument from authority, could you cite your authority for this premise?

        Because Newton’s Principia disputes your authority’s view.

        Exodus:20-12

      • David L. Hagen said onOctober 12, 2012 at 10:28 am
        “Max_OK
        Your ability to think, laugh, use your arms, eyesight at least are evidence of intelligent design… ”
        _____

        No, not a very intelligent design. A robot designer could do better.

        Of course, I’m not just speaking of me personally.

      • David L. Hagen

        Lolwot
        Cornelius Hunter shows an excellent example of critical thinking in: Mohamed Noor: Evolution is True Because We Say So

        . . .Noor began with the usual equivocation when he defined evolution as “change through time” that occurs over multiple generations. . . .
        Before evolutionists present their evidence, they frame the theory and its evidences in a cultural mandate. First and foremost, evolution is true from the start. Next evolution is cast as objective science in pursuit of the good. And skeptics are cast as forces of ignorance and darkness. It is the standard presentation of evolution that is full of bad science and bad history. . . .
        The professor is apparently unaware of life science research showing the enormous complexity that must have existed in early life if evolution is true. . . .
        evolutionists have been forced to conclude that the last common ancestor of eukaryotes must have had not only the vast majority of the complex DNA replication, RNA splicing and interference, and protein translation machinery, it was also capable of advanced movement and was equipped with versatile energy conversion systems.

        I encourage studying the logical errors exposed.

        Re: “We know humans and apes share a common ancestor.”
        No we don’t “know”. The genetic evidence provided is only a handwaving hypothesis presuming stochastic natural processes. The evidence provided is only shows necessary not sufficient evidence. You also have to provide some way for forming the FULL new genome including all the “junk” DNA for which we are just discovering the purposes.

        Per Feynman, Evolution is but an equivocation and a “vague theory” that can neither be proved or disproved, hence . . .one cannot claim to have gained any knowledge from them.

        If you a priori exclude intelligent design, you cannot disprove it!
        By recognizing the logical possibility, now you have to examine the evidence relative to both theories to see how they compare! i.e., apply critical thinking of ALL the options.

      • “Your burden is to show how the Origin Of Life (OOL) to a self reproducing cell, and then to macro evolution within unguided stochastic (random) processes using the four laws of nature.”

        Irrelevant. We know humans and apes share a common ancestor.

        How that happened? Science says the explanation is entirely natural. It probably is indeed random mutation coupled with natural selection.

        What are you suggesting as an alternative? Something supernatural? Aliens did it?

      • David L. Hagen

        lolwot – See answer above.
        Re: “Science says”
        No, some people hypothesize that “the explanation is entirely natural”. You cannot prove that. Per Feynman, you can only see if you disprove by comparing against evidence. Equivalently, you have to compare the evidence with the logical compliment – intelligent design.

    • David L. Hagen

      Intelligent Design methodology to detect Anthropogenic Global Warming.

      In applying Critical Thinking to climate science, it would be helpful to compare the formal methodology advanced by William Dembski for detecting Intelligent Design.

      William Dembski’s Explanatory Filter
      Is it Highly probable? If Yes then its a Law.
      If No, has it Intermediate probability? – If Yes then its Chance.
      If No, has it Specified small probability – If Yes then its Design.

      This methodology is commonly applied in forensics and portrayed in numerous crime/detective TV shows. Intelligent Design (ID) practitioners seek to provide a very high certainty of parts per 10^80 (or 10^120) or better in detecting evidence of an intelligent designer.

      In climate science, instead of “specified small probability”, those modeling Anthropogenic Global Warming seek to distinguish anthropogenic from natural causes with a modest probability.
      Anthropogenic Global Warming is still seeking clear parts per 10^1 evidence on the magnitude of the anthropogenic vs natural causes of “recent” global warming (aka “climate change”).

      The first challenge is to distinguish historic anthropogenic from natural impacts on climate and to verify and validate the models. The methodology is similar in needing to identify and incorporate all known natural laws into the Global Warming Models. Then the “chance” of chaotic fluctuations and uncertain natural “forcings” need to be accounted for. Including uncertain sources and sinks, varying and different solar visible and ultra violet forcing, cosmic rays, and geomagnetic fields.

      For comparison, detecting the time differentiated carbon 14 signatures of each atomic explosion given the specified dates of their occurrence, and determining that probability versus natural occurrence of carbon 14, would be an example of seeking very clear unequivocal evidence for intelligent causation in climate.

      In evaluating the potential impacts, the highly uncertain variations in regional economic growth and anthropogenic impacts then need to be accounted for in projections. The installation and operation of coal fired versus natural gas, versus wind and solar power plants would evidence historical and future anthropogenic energy/CO2 impacts. Farms and cities provide further anthropogenic impacts. Etc.

  20. The art of critical thinking is no more and no less than the the art of learning to muddle thru efficiently.

  21. I find Mr. Wyckoff’s essay entertaining but little else. Critical thinking begins with reductionist logic, the ability to break down a complex claim to its constituent assumptions, deductions, inductions, and speculations. Once we have identified the critical components of the claim, we apply a set of tools. The first set of tools allows us to strip away rhetorical devices such as character assassination (she can’t be trusted on x because she believes in y), post hoc arguments about probability, etc. Next we look for logical fallacies, for example the tendency to mistake correlation for causation. The conclusion as to the merit of the claim is based upon an objective scorecard, solid inductions and deductions minus fallacies, unsupported assumptions, and speculations. To borrow a bit from the late Carl Sagan, we are done with critical thinking when we have applied all the pertinent tools in our “skeptic’s toolbox.”

  22. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    The critical assessment of climate-change science increasingly requires mathematical maturity, and with regard to the concrete elements of “mathematical maturity” there is a broad consensus among mathematicians:

    Mathematical maturity

    •  make and use connections with other problems and other disciplines,
    •  fill in missing details,
    •  spot, correct and learn from mistakes,
    •  winnow the chaff from the wheat, get to the crux, identify intent,
    •  recognize and appreciate elegance,
    •  think abstractly,
    •  read, write and critique formal proofs,
    •  draw a line between what you know and what you don’t know,
    •  recognize patterns, themes, currents and eddies,
    •  apply what you know in creative ways,
    •  approximate appropriately,
    •  teach yourself,
    •  generalize,
    •  remain focused, and
    •  bring instinct and intuition to bear when needed.

    As for teaching mathematical maturity … perhaps Richard Feynman said it best (in quoting the historian Edward Gibbon):

    “The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy, except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous.”

    Please let me wish for you every success in imparting these hard-to-learn skills, Professor Curry!;)   :smile:   :grin:   :lol:   :!:

    • Your inability to comment without pulling in random authoritative links is a brilliant example of why you cannot think critically. Lose the crutches and free your mind.

    • Fan, “recognize and appreciate elegance” … that rules me out it seems, I claim to dress with “casual elegance,” but the river-side dossers often take me for one of their own.

      (Silly mode still enabled.)

  23. “JC comments: It is certainly a challenge to instill critical thinking into the academic curriculum, and insufficient attention is paid to this. Lets take this opportunity to critique ourselves (the Denizens of Climate Etc.) in this regard.”

    “Critical thinking clarifies goals, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, accomplishes actions, and assesses conclusions.”- wiki:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking#Meaning
    Wiki goes on:
    “To add further clarification on what is meant by thinking critically, Richard Paul (1995) articulated critical thinking as either weak or strong.

    The weak-sense critical thinker is a highly skilled but selfishly motivated pseudo-intellectual who works to advance one’s personal agenda without seriously considering the ethical consequences and implications. Conceived as such, the weak-sense critical thinker is often highly skilled but uses those skills selectively so as to pursue unjust and selfish ends (Paul, 1995).”

    And as topic of critical thinking, this: “So, for example, judging a president by Reagan’s famous question – “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” – implicitly assumes that presidential actions are the only variable affecting the economy. ”
    Is example of the “weak-sense critical thinker is a highly skilled but selfishly motivated pseudo-intellectual who works to advance one’s personal agenda”
    Obviously, Paul Gary Wyckoff has bias in which feels Obama should re-elected.
    Any critical thinking would come to this conclusion.
    Critical thinking would not dismiss Mr Wyckoff because he has such a bias, but it would recognize it, as one of the first steps.
    If you share this bias [and being familiar with your own bias is needed] then one should on guard against that. And if don’t share his bias then one must realize this could prejudice you against Mr Wyckoff.
    I seems to be reasonable question to ask, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”
    Because the reason you vote for any president, could be that one could hope the person elected will do something to make the country better.
    And they certainly make these kinds of promises.

    So first paragraph:
    “1. The ability to think empirically, not theoretically. By this I mean the habit of constantly checking one’s views against evidence from the real world, and the courage to change positions if better explanations come along. I have great admiration for scholars like Richard Muller, the University of California physicist and global warming skeptic, whose work was heavily funded by the conservative Koch brothers. When new, more comprehensive data from his own research team provided convincing evidence of global temperature increases, Muller changed his mind, and later sounded the alarm about carbon dioxide emissions.”

    There so much nonsense in there. Let’s say it’s not a good example which clarifies what is meant by “The ability to think empirically, not theoretically.
    Instead it might be an example of “I like people involved with science, they think empirically”, for example Richard Muller and his involvement with BEST.
    Continuing:
    “Unfortunately, however, much of our public debate on many issues seems to be a clash of theoretical world views, with neither side willing to dispassionately examine the evidence or modify their views. In Congress, the individuals most willing to change their minds – the moderates – have been systematically driven out by more extreme candidates who are dedicated to holding fast to their predetermined positions, regardless of subsequent facts.”

    I think it not unfortunate that there could be ” public debate on many issues seems to be a clash of theoretical world views”
    Instead there is lack of them though, rather then being some overabundance of them.
    Frankly, the perception due to lack of public debate with clash of theoretical world views, gives the impression that politicians are a bunch morons [which probably isn't entirely true].

    “Congress, the individuals most willing to change their minds”.
    No. That is moronic. Congress must willing to find ways to compromise, which is not the same as change their minds. The voters selected them for the minds they had [hopefully].

    “– the moderates – have been systematically driven out by more extreme candidates who are dedicated to holding fast to their predetermined positions, regardless of subsequent facts.”
    I get the feeling the only extreme candidates are the “right wingers” and imagine someone like, Joe Lieberman is not the moderate we looking for.
    And Nancy Pelosi is the bastion of moderate.

    No, I would say [must be my bias] the moderates were driven out by thugs.
    Or Chicago-style politics: “is a byword used to designate a set of characteristics associated to the less commendable aspects of the recent political history of the American city of Chicago, Illinois, (i.e., corruption, patronage, nepotism, authoritarianism) which is often cited as an example of blatant corruption. A study conducted by the University of Illinois has found that since 1972 three [Illinois?] governors before Governor Blagojevich, and a total of 1,000 [Chicago?] public officials and businessmen have been convicted of public corruption since 1970.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago-style_politics

    • Does anyone actually read comments like this?

      • Yes. And while I’m not a fan of Fan, I preferred his comment to your replies to it and gbaikie.

      • Thanks for the info! I wish I had your spare time

      • It was a bit long. And said then rather than.

        Anyhow, I was thinking about the aspect too many debates, maybe it had to do with the last debate that had over 70 million viewers.
        I wonder how many will watch the debate tonight.

        70 million is somewhere 1/2 Superbowl audience, and there was no amusing commercials!

      • David Springer

        Howard | October 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Reply

        “Does anyone actually read comments like this?”

        No one who matters.

  24. “For example, President Obama contends that investments in education and infrastructure are crucial to the nation’s future growth. And it makes intuitive sense that better-educated workers would be more productive, and that repaired highways could transport goods to market more quickly and at lower cost. But Republicans are dead-set against new taxes to pay for these investments. In such a polarized situation, the only way to finance these programs would be to borrow money…The interest payments on government bonds, then, are a real hindrance to economic growth. The wisdom of these investments, therefore, depends critically on the magnitude of the two effects. How big are the payoffs from investments in education and infrastructure? How much of our debt is owned by foreigners, and what interest rate will we have to pay to them?

    Notice the implicit, unstated assumption here (i.e. the bias). That is, there is a cost to borrowing money but there is no cost to raising taxes.

    The interest payments on government bonds, then, are a real hindrance to economic growth.

    I wonder if sky high taxes are a real hindrance to economic growth?

    • Depends on what the “sky high taxes” are used for. If used to pay down the national, economic growth might be hindered. If used to improve infrastructure, maybe not.

  25. The difference between certainty and certitude is illustrative. In short, certainty is being certain, certitude is feeling certain.

    To bridge the gap between certitude and certainty (thereby obtaining validation and presumably funding), those holding to certitude posit potential consequences are discussed with the goal of coercing the skeptic to accept as “certain” that which derives from certitude. Yeah, I know…the grammar lesson and the long sentence ares a pain but they point to the fundamental cultural flaw in climate science. That is, the climate science culture embraces certitude in the name of morality (i.e. save the world) rather than actually pursing conclusions based in certainty. (Note that even inconclusive results can approach certainty if the inconclusiveness is acknowledged and quantified.) Given the nature of the problem (i.e. a noisy signal), I believe that the conclusions in this area will always contain a fairly substantial component of uncertainty…but I could be wrong.

    The embrace of certitude to the exclusion of certainty I think usually derives from hubris. While we usually bring that forward to modern context as “pride,” it more fully references a pride which causes a break from reality. (Okay, technically the fabric of reality in example: In Shakespeare’s context, The Chain of Being. In the ancient Greek’s context: The gods are wicked pissed.) If warmists would admit, embrace and pursue their uncertainties and recognize the limits of their observation, I’d be inclined to listen more closely. However, instead of holding my breath waiting for that to happen, I will instead follow JC and the few other blogs/pages that pursue the information with a degree of critical thinking that seems to be quite unusual in this particular field.

  26. “Critical thinking” in science is also known as “rational skepticism” or “scientific skepticism”.

    Wiki defines “scientific” (or “rational”) “skepticism”, as follows:

    Scientific skepticism (also spelled scepticism) is the practice of questioning whether claims are supported by empirical research and have reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing “the extension of certified knowledge”.

    I’m all for it.

    It is the keystone of the scientific method (Feyman, Popper)

    But we all have to be careful that we don’t get “locked in” to a particular point of view to the extent that we reject all data points that tend to falsify our paradigm (see Kuhn).

    Keep an open mind.

    Of course, this goes for both sides in the ongoing scientific debate surrounding AGW.

    The key to rational critical thinking, as far as I am concerned, is that a premise (or hypothesis) must be supported by empirical scientific data, for example from actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation, before it can be accepted as certified scientific knowledge.

    Outputs from model simulations, based principally on theoretical deliberations, do not count

    The IPCC notion that AGW from human GHGs has caused most of the warming since 1950, and thus represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment has not yet passed the test of empirical scientific evidence.

    But I will keep my mind open.

    As soon as it does, I will accept it.

    Max

  27. Critical thinking is what is taught by genuine “science communicators.”

  28. I think there are several aspects of critical thinking that were missed.
    Identifying assumptions. Ex: a debate about HOW to reduce obesity presupposes that the government has the right to interfere in people’s lives and that it is not ok to be fat and happy.
    Separating motive from results. Ex: often people are satisfied that their do-gooder activity is good simply because they have good motives, but the consequences may not be so good.
    Do conclusions follow from the data? Ex: In many social science experiments a very specialized study of college students in an artificial setting with a low explanatory power (but p<0.01) is taken to be adequate to give people advice about living or marriage. Too much conclusion from too little science. As another example, it is often said that exercise makes you live longer, but perhaps people who have chronic illness don’t feel good enough to exercise. The correlation of wine with lower heart disease is said to be positive, but perhaps people who drink wine compared to those who drink beer are better educated and wealthier and both of these factors increase health. To take only a few examples.
    Contradictions matter. Ex: if your theory critically predicts X and X is found to never occur, or your theory forbids Y and Y occurs, this can not be ignored. It indicates something seriously wrong. But people tend to ignore unpleasant data. This is a big problem in the climate debate. Yes, if some tree ring series go down after 1960 it “matters” and if the MWP was warm it “matters”.

    • I think there are several aspects of critical thinking that were missed.Identifying assumptions.

      How is that not covered by the following:

      By this I mean the habit of constantly checking one’s views against evidence from the real world, and the courage to change positions if better explanations come along.

      isn’t checking views against evidence the way to identify assumptions?

      • In the example I gave the assumption can not be checked against evidence, it is a view of the valid purposes of government. Other assumptions might be that a theory is assuming point masses (as per Newton’s celestial mechanics) which might not work with objects traveling through air or water.

      • You need to check your assumptions:

        a debate about HOW to reduce obesity presupposes that the government has the right to interfere in people’s lives and that it is not ok to be fat and happy.

        This is false. Although it may, for some, in some cases, include such a position, the goal of reducing obesity presupposes none of what you describe.

      • In other words, you failed to check your assumptions against evidence. You would need to see that all debates about such efforts presuppose what you suggest. If you look at, say, vast CDC research on how to address obesity, you those presuppositions are certainly not uniform, let alone prevalent.

      • Joshua, I did not say ALL debate about obesity, but for example Mayor Bloomberg’s war on soda and the new school lunch programs in many areas that force “healthy” food on kids with perhaps portion sizes too small for active teens.

      • I don’t know the details but from what you say it doesn’t sound unreasonable. While children are at school the school has a duty of care and that includes giving them decent food. Of course they should get adequate portion sizes but that’s a separate issue.

      • Craig -

        There is no doubt that obesity is a risk factor for a variety of morbidities – but even still, public health initiatives seek ways to reduce obesity through programs that encourage good diet, not programs that force healthy diets (not the least because such efforts wouldn’t work).

        The fact that a mayor seeks to make the lunch options offered to students more nutritious, or seeks to limit the size of sodas that can be purchased, does not presume “that the government has the right to interfere in people’s lives and that it is not ok to be fat and happy.”

        You’re making all kinds of logical leaps: No one is forcing children to eat nutritious food (as opposed to offering them more nutritious food, or less unhealthy food). No one is preventing children from drinking as much soda as they want (as opposed to making purchases of large sodas more difficult). No one is presuming that fat kids may not be happy (as opposed to acknowledging that obesity is a growing health complication for youth – at a great cost to society).

        As for what you said – grammatically speaking, this statement:

        Ex: a debate about HOW to reduce obesity presupposes that the government has the right to interfere in people’s lives and that it is not ok to be fat and happy.

        Implies that any debate about how to reduce obesity makes such a presupposition. (i.e., “a debate does [presupposes] X….” as opposed to “a debate that does [presupposes] X….”)

        That you clarified is an improvement – but your argument fails to check your assumptions against evidence.

      • Craig, I think Joshua’s refusal to recognise your point is illistrative of a particular mindset. +1

    • Craig Loehle

      Excellent.

      Max

    • > If the MWP was warm it “matters”.

      Why?

      • willard

        If the MWP was as warm as today or warmer it “matters”, because IPCC claims just the opposite, based on since discredited work of Mann plus copies.

        And since there are many independent studies from all over the world using different paleo-climate techniques, a fairly extensive historical record as well as actual physical evidence, which indicate that the MWP was at least as warm and most likely warmer than today, it would be better for IPCC to simply leave out this doubtful claim.

        So this is yet another case of IPCC distortions, exaggerations or fabrications it its reports – all aimed at making the current warming look more unusual and warmer than it really is and resulting in skepticism of the objectivity of its conclusions.

        That’s why it matters.

        Max

      • “And since there are many independent studies from all over the world using different paleo-climate techniques, a fairly extensive historical record as well as actual physical evidence, which indicate that the MWP was at least as warm and most likely warmer than today”

        So far all efforts to create global or hemispheric reconstructions suggest recent warming to be anomalous in the past 2000 years. There is no rapid warming found in previous centuries compared to the last 100 years.

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/compare_recons_with_crutem_1.png

        If skeptics think other proxies show otherwise why not put them together into a single global or hemispheric reconstruction and demonstrate that the *global average* at some point in the past 2000 years was warmer than today?

      • Manacker,

        I’m not sure I follow your reasoning, but before paying due diligence to it I’d like citation and a quote for that following claim, pretty please with some sugar on it.

        > If the MWP was as warm as today or warmer it “matters”, because IPCC claims just the opposite[.]

        ***

        You still have a quote to provide on that other thread:

        > The quote from Mitt Romney’s (allegedly “ghostwritten”) book points to the conclusion that the USA should do more oil and gas exploration (“drill, baby, drill”) including shale deposits, to get more “energy independent” (combined, of course, with supporting basic research for new energy technologies).

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/10/08/whats-the-best-climate-question-to-debate/#comment-252011

        I have no reason to trust your reading skills.

        ***

        I also remind you that you still jest while you have homework to do:

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/10/02/rs-workshop-on-handling-uncertainty-in-weather-climate-prediction-part-i/#comment-248950

        ***

        Besides, I’d like you to acknowledge this hit and run over there:

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/10/08/whats-the-best-climate-question-to-debate/#comment-252594

        Your algorithm might have been mischaracterized.

        Your hit and runs are building yourself a nice homework list, Manacker.

    • David Springer

      Ripple and MD 20/20 don’t seem to have very healthful effects for the class of people who favor them. Maybe they got left out of your survey of the affluence of wine drinkers.

  29. In general, this article is a classic example of non-critical thinking. It is loaded with the author’s own bias, and he is oblivious to the fact.

    Critical thinking, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone can have their won definition, especially in our current post-dictionary world. But there is an easy test to see if you are capable of it.

    Pick a topic on which you have a very strong position. Then sit down and articulate, fully, fairly and honestly, the opposing position. If you can’t do it because you don’t really know what the other side really believes, then find out. If you still can’t articulate the opposite position fairly, you are simply not capable of critical thinking.

    In 12 years of primary and secondary education, four years of college and three years of law school, I never had one teacher or professor try to teach this skill.

    Want to see genuine critical thinking in action? Have one consensus denizen here argue the skeptical side of the debate, and one conservative skeptic argue the consensus view. My bet would be that the skeptic denizen would have no trouble arguing the consensus side, but the consensus denizen would sound like Skeptical Science, making only straw man so as to “throw the match.”

    But it would sure be fun to watch.

    • As another object lesson – an example of what critical thinking is not, I offer this post from GaryM:

      http://judithcurry.com/2012/10/02/rs-workshop-on-handling-uncertainty-in-weather-climate-prediction-part-i/#comment-249066

      Because of a total failure to think critically, he reaches a flat out completely incorrect conclusion, and goes on to in fact, invent a fantasy to explain how he reaches his incorrect conclusion.

      Not quite as succinct as Latimer’s effort I linked below – but it has it’s own form of beauty nonetheless.

    • Steve Milesworthy

      GaryM

      Want to see genuine critical thinking in action? Have one consensus denizen here argue the skeptical side of the debate, and one conservative skeptic argue the consensus view. My bet would be that the skeptic denizen would have no trouble arguing the consensus side, but the consensus denizen would sound like Skeptical Science, making only straw man so as to “throw the match.”

      I would like to see this being put to the test as one of my irritations is climate scientists being assigned with views they don’t hold for reasons that don’t make sense. Eg. above where someone claims that the science is based on ability to hindcast a few decades despite an inability to understand millions of years of climate change.

      Can you give an example of how the consensus denizen would sound, as I very rarely read Skeptical Science. How could you sound like Skeptical Science if you’ve only got a few papers from Lindzen, Spencer, etc. to cite from?

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        You get a lot of the SS arguments repeated here by consensus denizens. Here is a Cliff’s Notes version of such a straw man argument.

        For instance, a consensus advocate will claim that skeptics think that the fact there have been natural periods of warming in the past proves that the current warming is also natural.

        This misstates what most skeptics would actually argue – that the fact that there were prior periods of natural warming means that the current warming COULD also be natural. That we just don’t know enough about the climate to attribute current warming to CAGW.

        It is a refutation of the common claim of the consensus advocates that, since their models cannot explain the current warming without significant forcing from anthropogenic CO2, then it is highly likely that ACO2 is causing the current warming.

        It is just much easier for consensus advocates to caricature the skeptic argument and cut down the straw man than read about, consider, and actually address skeptics’ actual arguments.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        This misstates what most skeptics would actually argue – that the fact that there were prior periods of natural warming means that the current warming COULD also be natural. That we just don’t know enough about the climate to attribute current warming to CAGW.

        I wouldn’t personally fall into this trap.

        I just did a Google search on “the climate is always changing”. I got a mix of results (from sceptic and AGW side) some of which put the wrong (in your view) case, and some which put the right case. Here are two (the top search items) that put the right case to the test:

        http://grist.org/article/climate-is-always-changing/
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/12/previous-temperature-climate-change

        But even where I found the “wrong” sceptic claim presented in the headline (eg. the Skeptical Science answer), the answers address the right claim – ie: by saying that past climate demonstrates the sensitivity of the climate so we cannot dismiss the current CO2 emissions, or current climate is better observed so we can rule out many of the likely causes of past climate change. Both these rebuttals address both the “could be natural” and the “must be/is natural” arguments.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        I also intended to add that while it is easy to present an argument based on unknown unknowns which is what a lot of sceptic argument is based on, including the argument you pose. Natural variability *could* have caused the recent warming, but there is no reasonable observed cause that *sufficiently* rules out an impact from CO2. Remember that the “consensus” position does allow sensitivity of only 1.5C which is very close to lukewarmer territory and which must implicitly be allowing for more natural warming.

        In a sense, what I am saying is that as well as sceptics arguing for unknown unknowns, they usually argue against the CAGW “strawman” as opposed to the AGW case.

      • Steve Milesworthy.

        On the other hand, skeptics regularly engage the actual arguments of the consensus. But there is no reasonable, rational response. There are of course skeptics who engage in hyperbole and straw man arguments, but that is not ALL you get from skeptics. That is pretty much all you get from consensus advocates.

        Again, many skeptics can articulate consensus arguments. Consensus advocates on the other hand are almost universally incapable of doing so with respect to skeptic arguments..

    • consensus denizen believes that Earth would be frozen without there being CO2. That CO2 is a control knob. That with CO2 in the atmosphere and the presence of water [another greenhouse which is very significant but does not control or force a temperature increase] that earth has liquid water and is 14-15 C in average temperature as it is currently.
      Such denizen believes that CO2 levels play a significant role to increasing global temperature when the Earth is in glacial period. But also consider that other factors are involved in cooling and warming of these glacial and interglacial periods.
      Such denizen thinks that human emission CO2 is causing an unnaturally rapid warming which is quite different and possibility quite dangerous than as compared to nature fluctuation in CO2.
      many denizen may think of global global climate as in a delicate balance, that even without human involvement climate can suddenly and catastrophically change. That earth climate is similar to canoe and human standing up in the canoe. Thereby at hasten if not causing wild and dangerous possible climate.
      They believe that current increase temperature have already caused earth to become dangerous warm- that earth has already been make instable and further increase in CO2 will surely cause at least minor harm and may be so severe as to cause many extinction of life including the the human species [as the human species is ecology web dependent on all life on the planet.

      Whereas a skeptic doesn't necessary hold the above beliefs though perhaps may hold many of them.
      Some skeptic may merely disagree about the possible limit of warming due to CO2 [whereas consensus denizen may unwilling to believe there is no practical limit to how warm Earth can become- that is possible that high enough CO2 level [and/or Methane and other greenhouse gases] may cause the Earth’s oceans to boil]. Generally a skeptic would regard the unlimited degree in which CO2 could warm the planet as somewhat unhinged or dislusional.
      So a skeptic may consider that the earth could warm by about 1 C per doubling of CO2. Perhaps also thinks that 1 C of warming would have much effect.
      Skeptics might think that CO2 is not a knob which causing warming, that water vapor can “force” warming.
      perhaps skeptics might think that lacking CO2 would not neccessary cause the planet to be frozen solid. Perhaps Earth would have average global temperature of say 0 C yet still not be frozen solid [tropics could have average temperature of say 10 C and have rest planet cooler which brings down the overall average temperature- just currently tropics is around 28 C and average global temperature is 14 to 15 C.
      In addition one simply can not have zero CO2 levels that instead probably lowest Global CO2 levels is somewhere between 100 to 200 ppm. And in terms “recorded” levels the lowest has been around 180 ppm.

      Skeptics can wide number of beliefs and above given are just examples which some may have. The main skepticism is in regard to CAGW- and don’t CO2 levels will rise as much some think it’s possible to rise and do not think dangerous levels of warming and polar ice cap melting is reasonable within a century or so in the future.

      • My opinion of “global warming”, “climate change”, AGW, and/or CAGW is that it’s pseudoscience. Or it’s ideas which are related to science.
        What is true is that recently, beginning of 20th century to present, has been a warming period.
        I would say the beginning of AGW, started with news scare regarding the fear of global cooling around the 1970′s. At that time there was some debate over whether glaciers were continuing to retreat, or whether there was signs of beginning of reversal and that glaciers [globally] could begin to advance. And if glacier did advance for decades into the future, how important this could be [why was it an exciting news story].
        But the evidence was against such an idea that globally glacial were starting to advance- it was shown that we were continuing to warm globally or most glaciers were still retreating.

        At one time it was thought that Venus [and Mars] could have atmosphere conditions which could support life [similar to earth]. With the beginning of the space age [we developed the capacity sending spacecraft into space] it was discovered that Venus was not what some people imagined.
        It was discovered that Venus had very thick atmosphere [92 times the mass of Earth's atmosphere] and was comprised mostly CO2. And at it’s surface it was extremely hot with pressure similar max submarine depth on Earth [33' times 92 = equal ocean depth of around 3000']. For life to exist in such conditions was generally regarded beyond the reach of fantasy. And was a bit of disappointment to some who at that time held such hopes/fantasies.
        And there was the mystery of why Venus was so much dissimilar to Earth.
        One hypothesis was that Venus was once like Earth- blue skies, oceans, and perhaps life, but it had what could called catastrophic warming- a runaway greenhouse effect.
        One need to realize how stupid we were back 40+ years ago. To give some idea of how little we knew, plate tectonics wasn’t accepted, nor was the idea that earth [and Venus and Mars and anything else] were in terms geologic time, constantly being bombarded with space rocks.
        And it wasn’t until we landed on the moon, that idea began to sink in that newly discovered crater impacted Moon was Earth minus plate tectonic removing the most of the evidence. Though once this was broadly realized and people actually started looking, we found large craters all over the Earth:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_impact_craters_on_Earth

        So in the beginning of Earth, Earth wasn’t Earth. And to me it seems unlikely that Venus [or Mars] resembled earth early in their histories.
        Or that Earth resembled Earth only a bit later in it’s geological history.
        See once it was thought, the earth came first and then life evolved, but what happened was Earth was being formed, and around this same time life evolved. Quite different world views.
        See I think the most plausable theory of where moon came from was from large object hitting proto-earth. And Venus and Mars lack such a large moon. And the dramatic effect of such a large moon.
        And this I believe is the consensus view [not my wacky idea].
        Or if want to say Venus and Mars was like the proto-earth- that isn’t telling us anything, because that proto-earth could been similar to either these planet as they are today.
        So quite simply I think runaway greenhouse effect of Venus, is based on a false sense of a starting point. Or there isn’t any empirical proof of any “runaway greenhouse effect”.
        And since think Earth started very hot [having a Mars size impactor- does that] if Earth was to have runaway effect, it would have stayed hot- or cooled down less.
        And there were other somewhat large impactors [no nearly as large- not +1000 of kilometer in diameter, somewhere around 100 km or less.
        So a 1000 km diameter rock, really messes up a planet, but 100 km rock really messes up the surface of a planet- it's a near total extinction of all life, level of destruction. A rock around 10 km is the dinosaur killer rock. And if you halfway between, pick say a 50 km rock it's iffy whether anything lives thru it. Here video [not great or I think accurate] of a 10 km rock:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qJPTjMnwNk

        One can’t say a 10 to 50 km diameter space rock impact a Earth will not have tremendous effect upon global climate. And it should not only affect the weather, but deeper or more profound effect, of changing geology or the surface crust of Earth.

      • “…nor was the idea that earth [and Venus and Mars and anything else] were in terms geologic time, constantly being bombarded with space rocks.”

        Btw, on this topic, Earth is in terms of human timescales being bombarded with small space rocks. Rocks the size of cars or buses [though because cars and buses are essential designed to be hollow shells, the rocks the size cars or buses have more mass].
        Very roughly rocks smaller than 1 ton impact earth, daily to weekly, 10 tons monthly, 100 ton in timescale of years to decades. And these are impacting the atmosphere and are going at faster velocity than Apollo spacecraft returning to Earth- most going twice as fast. Or it would challenging to design anything that survive such high velocity “re-entry” into Earth’s atmosphere. In terms of engineering one has two basic aspects: heat and gee loads. The higher the allowable gee load, makes it easier to design. And space rock basically “failing” due to have too much gee loads- the rocks structure can not withstand the load [they break up and then explode]. At high speed the atmosphere resembes a wall more than something you can move thru, and as in this analogy, big rocks generally go through walls better than smaller rocks, and continuing analogy rocks go thru wall more easily if hitting the wall at an shallow angle. So velocity, angle and structural strength of space rock determine if a rock can punch thru atmosphere and hit the ground.
        And the these small rocks don’t generally hit ground unless it’s in pieces after exploding in atmosphere.

        But issue I think is interesting is the rocks missing Earth, the vast amount of “rockage” passing near Earth- every rock impacting earth, thousands are missing. Earth isn’t vacuum or magnet for space rocks, rather it’s a bull-eye running across a gun target range- or battlefield with many machine guns firing.
        So if think of space near Earth as say out to the Moon distance- than Earth is a rather small target. And what I think of as near Earth is a distance of about week of travel time from Earth [Moon is 3 days]. Or about 10,000 space rocks to to one earth impactor.
        Take grid 1 million km square it has it has 100 10,000 Square grid boxes a earth fits in one of them- so 100 by 100. A supermarket of variety of different rocks with variety of different velocities and vectors.
        Or in one year one gets at least 10,000 years of rocks which could impact earth.
        So if you want to mine space rock and the region of mining is within 1/2 million kilometer from earth. And your time horizon is within a 10 year period- you looking at around 100,000 years of the “kind of rocks” that impact earth in such a period of time.
        So this means a few 100 meter diameter rocks and hundreds of rocks around 50 meter in diameter and thousands rocks 10 meter or so in diameter- or around hundred of tons of material. And instead limiting it to 1/2 million km, 2 million km from earth might be a more reasonable outer limit for selection of space rocks.

  30. As a partial step towards answering your question, Judith, I offer a very succinct and beautiful example of what critical thinking is not (with specific reference to points #1, #2, and #5).

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/10/08/whats-the-best-climate-question-to-debate/#comment-252467

  31. Critical Thinking is the method I use to approach and crack problems.

    Scientists also use Critical Thinking as a key part of the brilliant work they do day in day out.

    • You’re a marvel!!

    • lolwot

      Those scientists that have just been awarded Nobel Prizes (for an achievement) have, indeed, done “brilliant work”.

      And there are many others out there, working for corporations, on government grants, etc.

      Mann, Jones, Hansen et al. do not fall into that category.

      Get it into your head, lolwot – all is not good in the kingdom of climatology (i.e. there is something rotten).

      Why else have close to 70% of all poll respondents in the USA concluded that climate scientists fudged the data?

      I believe that this is an epidemic that was caused by IPCC’s “consensus process”, which in turn was caused by IPCC’s “brief” and political agenda from the start.

      Not necessarily a conspiracy, mind you, just a collusion of interests that formed following the major screw-up of creating what turned out to be a bumbling monster..

      Max

      • Dr Micheal Mann, Dr Phil Jones, and Dr James Hansen are brilliant scientists. Each of them have advanced knowledge in their respective fields.

      • David Springer

        Strawberry fields, evidently.

      • lolwot

        Dr Micheal Mann, Dr Phil Jones, and Dr James Hansen are brilliant scientists.

        They are “scientists”, for sure.

        They may have a high IQ, as well – i.e., they may be “brilliant”.

        They may even have advanced specialized knowledge (most everyone does, in some field).

        BUT they do not compare with the scientists, who have just received Nobel Prizes.

        And their behavior has been one of “advocates” for a political cause, rather than objective and impartial “scientists”.

        Max

      • Latimer Alder

        Is that the field in which Jones ‘lost’ his confidentiality agreements? Or was it truly a field of dreams?

      • lolwot,
        Biggest joke (or BS) of the day, lolwot. Dr Micheal Mann, Dr Phil Jones, and Dr James Hansen are climate modeling jesters, not scientists.

      • (I believe) I have a highly honed fraud sniffer, BS detector, and appreciation for brilliance when in its presence (even if I don’t always “get” it all).

        From what I’ve seen and read from all three, I’m amazed anyone could think of a one of them as brilliant, on any level. I’d guess that their aptitude, creativity, and, even, education, is slightly substandard. (It seems they all slept through Stat 101.) What they all have an excess of is ego. And opportunistic, political luck. ….to date, so far.

        Can you sense the tension, edge of the seat excitement reading, watching Richard Feynman or Freeman Dyson? Even Steve McIntyre, Willis Eschenbach, Anthony Watts — or Judith Curry? Compare that to the TED talks Hanson did, or Michael Mann. Different leagues.
        ….Lady in Red

  32. Critical Thinking came out of the theoretical work in Critical Theory (see Frankfurt School, but was known as far back as the Greeks) and is centered around reflective thinking and practice (autonomy) rather than blindly accepting a consensual canon of knowledge and practice (hegemony). In education one might look to Paulo Friere and his book the Pedagogy of the Oppressed or Foucault, Wilfred Carr, Habermas or Bourdieu. One of Foucault’s tools for critical thinking was looking at what was missing, for he argued, those without power are not heard or seen, and that applies as much to quantitative as it does to qualitative evidence.
    Bonner’s book, Critical Theory A Very short Introduction, might be a good place to start.

    • In education one might look to Paulo Friere and his book the Pedagogy of the Oppressed

      A favorite book – although I’m not sure how you’re linking it to critical thinking. Might you explain?

      • Friere looked beyond ‘banking’ of knowledge (hegemony) and that even though oppression existed, transformation was possible through reflection (critical thinking) and action (praxis) especially looking at problems in a social context, so that knowledge emerged through re-invention.

      • Chapter 2 Page 56 of his book,
        ‘Banking education treats students as objects of assistance; problem-posing education makes them critical thinkers,’

        He was using banking as a metaphor.
        I guess I must be ready to give my lecture on this tomorrow morning…

      • Interesting – thanks.

        I tend to think of Friere predominantly w/r/t the weakness of a bureaucratic approach to education – and yes, such an approach is antithetical to critical thinking – but I never really put it together in the way that you describe; I mostly think of his work as speaking to the bureaucratic restriction on creativity – emphasis on conformity and convergent thinking as opposed to divergent thinking. The linkage between creativity and critical thinking is an interesting one. Unfortunately, sometimes people tend to view them as being in opposition to one another (logico-mathmetical reasoning versus being artistic or skilled in a craft, say).

      • Joshua, creativity often involves making linkages which others haven’t. This tends to occur in my experience in the deeper part of the mind, but critical thinking can provide a basis for such intuitive leaps.

  33. thisisnotgoodtogo

    Could it be said that Dr. Muller is Dr Curry’s Paul Ryan ?

  34. How sad, “Joshua.” (Given your deeply annoying habit of putting skeptics in demeaning quotation marks, I think it should be “joshua” from now on.)

    For the first time in memory you seem to have (in your mind anyway) “won” (note the demeaning punctuation) some obscure debating point. So sweet was the moment evidently, that you can’t help reliving it over and over again.. Let me ask you “Joshus,” how many times now have you read the exchange through?

    • Another object lesson in what critical thinking is not.

      For the first time in memory you seem to have (in your mind anyway) “won”

      Assessing whether one has “won” or not in these debates is obviously entirely subjective. That said, you are formulating a conclusion that stands in contrast to much available evidence. To the extent that we can boil down these debates to such simplistic classification, I think that I have “won” many debates on these threads. If you’d like some examples, just go back an look at mostly any of the exchanges you and I have had (as opposed to some of the other “denizens” who actually do apply critical thinking in their analyses).

      Notice that the obvious failure in your critical thinking is not contingent on some “objective” evaluation of what I have or haven’t won. The only evidence necessary to prove your failure of critical thinking is for me (in my mind, anyway”) to have thought that I won.

  35. Hey, I kind of like the typo. “Joshus” Even better.

  36. Some books that illustrate critical thinking while never mentioning them per se:
    The Black Swan by Taleb
    Stephen Pinker’s books on language & thought
    Malcolm Gladwell’s books
    1421 by Gavin Menzies

    • Craig

      I corresponded with Menzies about ’1421′ and it was taken apart by critical web sites. The British mounted an expedition to try to find a north east passage route to China in 1553 and some archive material seems to suggest that the Russians may have found their way there (or got close to) around that time. Menzies claims though were overblown and, in the end, unsubstantiated.
      tonyb

  37. Paul Gary Wyckoff’s essay on “critical thinking” was not specifically directed at “critical thinking in science” (i.e. rational or scientific skepticism), but rather more in the political sense.

    But the logic is largely also applicable for science, including climate science.

    His five points (and my assessment of the IPCC crowd versus skeptics of the IPCC CAGW premise)

    1. The ability to think empirically, not theoretically fits like a glove. Theory is nice, but without empirical evidence it is meaningless. The IPCC CAGW premise is based on GH theory and model outputs rather than empirical data from actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation. Unfortunately, Wyckoff makes much of Richard Muller’s “conversion” from “skeptic” to believer. Believer in what? His extensive data showed him it had warmed on land. So he now “believed” that it had warmed. More importantly, he made a “leap of faith” that this warming must have been caused primarily by human GHG emissions. Here he was not thinking empirically (he had no new empirical evidence to support this view), but rather theoretically. Skeptics insist on empirical evidence, hence think empirically

    2. The ability to think in terms of multiple, rather than single, cause Yes. Here the IPCC approach has been weak. The consensus process fixates myopically on human-caused warming, specifically caused by GHGs, essentially ignoring or playing down the many possible natural causes of warming. Many skeptics have concluded that there are many natural causes for the past warming, rather than just one primary man-made cause.

    3. The ability to think in terms of the sizes of things, rather than only in terms of their direction. I don’t see that the IPCC consensus process has a particular problem here – it has concluded, based on model simulations, that (2xCO2) climate sensitivity is between 2 and 4.5 °C, and has stuck with this estimate consistently. Skeptics simply ask for the empirical data to support this premise.

    4. The ability to think like foxes, not hedgehogs Although this is directed at politicians, it could be argued that the IPCC consensus process is “thinking like a hedgehog” (i.e. knowing one big thing [AGW] and applying that to everything Many skeptics use more of the fox approach, positing many small climate changes to many different things.

    5. The ability to understand one’s own biases The IPCC consensus process does not leave much room for this; conflicting data, reports or conclusions are rejected or simply ignored. But many skeptics also fall into the same trap (at least one could argue that it’s not institutionalized in the case of skeptics).

    Now you’ve seen the rating on the IPCC group versus skeptics of that viewpoint (as seen by a skeptic).

    I’d be interested in reading how a supporter of the IPCC CAGW premise sees this.

    Max

  38. Can we assume that Climate Skeptics tend the fox side of things and Climate Warmists tend to the hedgehog?

    • stuartlynne

      That was a “wiley” assessment.

      (I agree 100%).

      Max

      PS Can we accept “Tetlock’s conclusion that foxes outperform hedgehogs in making predictions, and hence tend to make better decisions.”

      Hmmm…

      • From the “rational skeptic” who (at least in some easily proven cases) fails in accountability when he is wrong.

        What a shock that Max agrees that some categorical distinction relative to critical thinking can be applied according to sides of the climate debate.

        Once again, an object lesson in a failure of critical thinking. No checking of assumptions against evidence. Blind acceptance of an assumption – despite the fact that true skepticism would require checking against obvious biases.

      • Joahua

        I see that you do not come with specific examples, as I did.

        Whassamatter? Cat got your tongue?

        Or do you not have anything specific to say?

        Max

      • Joshua – sorry for misspelling your name

    • Is that the royal we? I think *We* can assume that some moths are attracted to the apparent brightness of buzz words to install a psychic buffer from their pathological ignorance.

  39. Who can we be sure that the famous examples of critical thinking are not just yet another example of evolutionary selection pressure on groups of biases. If an explanation for something requires 10 building blocks and there are three or four possible flavors of blocks, it could just be that some people are luckily in the right place at the right time. Fred Hoyle could be the greatest physicist of all time if matter spontaneously came into existence in vacuum. Even cosmic back ground radiation can be used as an argument for the ‘Steady State Theory’.
    What if most of the examples we have of ‘critical thinking’ are just as good as all the ideas that were completely wrong?

  40. But no one seems to define what they mean by that term. – Paul Gary Wyckoff

    Might I humbly suggest that Mr Wyckoff needs to take some time out and do a bit of reading, his suggestion is, to put it politely, naive.

    http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766

  41. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    I would amend #1 to say: always check the empirical evidence for any proposition. Propositions, including mathematical equations, are generally simpler than reality and are at best only approximations, so also be alert to the case that a proposition may be “supported by evidence”, but not be exact. (For example, pi is irrational, so any short number like 3.14159 is “incorrect”, but in some circumstances pi = 22/7 may be “accurate enough”, whereas pi = 3 seldom is accurate enough.)

    Thus, for some climatological purpose, it may be accurate enough to portray the earth as a flat homogeneous surface with uniform insolation; whereas for other purposes it may not be accurate enough.

    Then I would add #6: be alert to the logical contradictions that arise sometimes when thinking theoretically. This is like plaezme above on checking that assumptions are logically consistent.

  42. An example of critical thinking is to realize that the single most meaningful inference from all of the available information is that AGW True Believers have knowingly and purposefully exaggerated the role of human CO2 in global warming.

  43. Stopped reading after 3. Anyone who can manage to slip liberal bias into an essay on critical thinking isn’t worth my time.

    • Was a bit of that I noticed. But please call them Progressives. They don’t deserve the noble title of liberal.

    • +
      I read all of the essay, solely because I trust Dr. Curry. Wyckoff joins Joshu[s/a] in the rubbish bin, as of now.

    • Steve Milesworthy

      As a probable liberal (whether of the noble or ignoble type, I’m not sure – what’s the difference, Bill?) who also spotted the slanted views in the various illustrative examples, why would slipping such bias into an article about critical thinking necessarily undermine the points on critical thinking?

      Perhaps he put it in deliberately to show up the people who are susceptible to confirmation bias. Are you “confident, forceful, and predictable” in your view that no liberal can be trusted on any subject?

  44. Wyckoff fails to apply critical thinking, however defined, with his comment that “In such a polarized situation, the only way to finance these programs would be to borrow money, and these days much of the government’s borrowed funds are supplied by overseas investors from places like China and Japan. The interest payments on government bonds, then, are a real hindrance to economic growth.”

    No, Paul, if you believe that education and infrastructure should have a higher priority than other options, then you can switch funding from lower priority options. More broadly, rather than depend on “intuitive sense,” you could seek evidence and apply the principles of opportunity costs and cost-benefit analysis to determine your optimal spending priorities. You might even find that tax reductions have the highest return.

    Wyckoff appears to approach everything here from a leftist perspective, perhaps he doesn’t understand his own biases. Hard to foster critical thinking if you can’t do it yourself.

  45. For critical thinking to develop, we need to train for an open mind, through perhaps overcoming our very human nature (ego, ignorance).
    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/frontal-cortex/2012/06/daniel-kahneman-bias-studies.html#commentAnchor_nyr_2000000001806080
    And so this will allow a more open rational mind, not leaning either to the left or to the right, or favouring certain ideology, but rationality in which to realise the good and bad values/views held by both the left and right groups. Once we overcome that, we will tend to be a better person with more compassion, more understanding, less biased. Having said that, a healthy brain is required for this, we need to eat well, rest well, and have a balanced lifestyle, and a calm mind by minimising stress (i.e., need to manage ourselves better in our daily life). To overcome our ego, or perhaps it’s sufficient just to be aware of it, is not easy as we were born with it, but maybe not impossible, and we shall strive for that in our daily effort.

    • Well said. It’s very hard though not impossible to eradicate the ego, it is possible to weaken it, through direct experience with an equanimous mind of reality as it manifests in our own mind and body. This means going beyond the rational mind, of course, observing rather than analysing and opening up the much larger part of the mind rather than just the so-called conscious mind.

      • Faustino | October 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Reply

        This means going beyond the rational mind, of course, observing rather than analysing and opening up the much larger part of the mind rather than just the so-called conscious mind.

        You need an E-Meter to do that.

    • This is a recipe for human sheep or monks, not critical thinking.

      • Yeah, if this ‘recipe’ (if one perceive that as a recipe) is administered to the extreme or blindly, one may become a ‘monk’ – either a wise one, or a vegetable one (a monk wannabe/fool) – but the idea is to watch our ego in action, not blindly following or parroting others. There is also a tendency for us to view/accept/prescribe things as recipe or instruction. It’d be great to be able to see things in the bigger picture.

      • You are correct as I was being a sarcastic jerk objection to the ego-rational mind stuff, which tends to be abused, but not in your example. However, I don’t necessarily believe good mental health is related to objective critical thinking required to solve tough problems in science, engineering or technology. Being cranky and a bit of a misanthrope helps.

        Also, the big picture is over-rated, unless you are meaning that in the big picture, we are 100% insignificant, so don’t take anything too seriously. In problem solving (unless you are a ubermensch), the big picture comes at the end of a long hard slog.

      • Like Thoreau, perhaps?

        > Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.

        http://www.gutenberg.org/files/71/71-h/71-h.htm

  46. The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

    Every one of the skills outlined by Wyckoff is the heart of being a true skeptic (in the sense as outlined in The Black Swan). The last point, about understanding ones own biases is especially important for critical thinking, and I would add: know the sources of your biases as well. From family upbringing to political, religious, social, business, and educational background, all these things have helped to form our biases. If you want to be true, open-minded critical thinker, you’ve got to know both what your biases are as well as what has formed them.

  47. Critical thinking is often inimical to urgent action. Obviously the IPCC group think, lowest common denominator, was that urgent action should be the priority. Thus they labeled 1940 climate as normal, though many of their scientists must have objected, on the alter of urgency. The rest is history. They never did investigate the roots of anthropogenic global warming in enough detail to realise that it was a limited phenomenon.

    A more general view might be to beware of linear thinking. Of course linear thinking has been tremendously valuable to scientists in a natural world that is often non-linear. Before the invention of the computer, there was not much choice but to linearise a part of the problem, simplify and solve the differential equations. Artificial as it was, these simplifying assumptions often worked. A few rugged individuals using desk calculators spent years manually solving the non-linear equations, but when they had finished, people had lost interest in the problem.

    While I decry linear thinking in climate, other aids like conceptual models should not be ignored and are often the starting point for elaborate simulations. Indeed the structure of a computer mathematical model (programming or coding is a separate issue) relies on a good conceptual model for a start. Most of the more serious critics in these columns seem to have some sort of conceptual model in mind, even if it is some vague notion of natural forces. One way to start is to try to construct a mental narrative of climate from the beginning of the 20th century and see where this leads. My website above has an example.

  48. Okay boys and girls. Here is how to be a critical thinker:

    1) recognize that all humans are morons, present company included
    2) recognize that we live in a bull$hit universe (indifferent, entropy, a mystery)
    3) be dismissive in a positive way
    4) relax
    5) collect the data yourself
    6) assume the data was collected by a moron
    7) never fear
    8) work for yourself
    9) collaborate with other morons who know they are morons
    10) make it fun

  49. Being a mathematician, I’d take exception to the first item on this list stated as “The ability to think empirically, not theoretically.” While theory contradicted by experimentally determined facts must give way, too often people fail to think logically in making conclusions.

    Observations will tell you that the planets do not circle the earth, but Newton derived his laws of motion using a mathematical theory he also developed and Einstein developed relativity by theoretical thinking, even if motivated by small empirical failures of Newton’s theory.

    Empiricism will only take you so far — to rise above the surface of the earth (or the surface of some social, scientific or engineering problem), you need theoretical thinking as a significant part of your critical thinking skills.

    More than anything, you need to realize not all people you encounter are Newton or Einstein. Some of them may be wrong whether they are talking theory or experimental results — so a critical think skill is a constant attitude of evaluating what is being said — that is, a very important critical thinking skill is to be skeptical.

    • Instead of a tired opposition, the author could have opposed theory to models (gasp!), or to prevent any gasping, simply to praise looking for specific cases, or something like that.

      This reminds me the notion of witnesses and the notion of prototypes:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witness_(mathematics)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prototype_theory

      In auditing sciences, this principle is seen in the eternal replays of the crucifiction of Mann.

    • Philip Lee | October 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Reply

      Being a mathematician, I’d take exception to the first item on this list stated as “The ability to think empirically, not theoretically.” While theory contradicted by experimentally determined facts must give way, too often people fail to think logically in making conclusions.

      This is a great point. You nailed it.

      What is really amazing is that scientist and engineers frequently ignore old simple theories that have been verified by empirical evidence over and over again. This, of course, gives hope and opportunity to the moronic critical thinker who stays in the weeds and applies simple theory to *modern* problems.

  50. On the opposite side of this coin, overuse of modal operators (always, never, none, absolutely, every, totally, zero, 100%…) is often a sign of distorted thinking. If a poster cannot state another’s case in language acceptable to them they are usually burning strawmen.

    [Example: replace "often" with "always" and "usually" with "certainly" above...]

    • Agreed.

      I think that the importance of this as a marker for critical thinking cannot be overstated:

      If a poster cannot state another’s case in language acceptable to them they are usually burning strawmen.

      But I would extend it farther. This is not just a requirement of commenters on blogs, but for analysts more generally. In working with students writing in the sciences (as well as other subject areas, but in particular in the sciences), it is interesting to see how few of them grasp the concept that a thesis must be arguable and you haven’t successfully proven your thesis if you haven’t tackled plausible counterarguments. What is even more interesting is that relatively few of their professors make such a requirement of their students’ writing.

      IMO, the best critical thinking I see in academic literature is when authors include a “limitations of this study” section. Unfortunately, often authors seem to think that it behooves them to shortchange such a discussion.

    • And just to add, it is interesting just how often I have read “skeptics” complain when at the types of qualifiers you describe are included in scientific writing.

      Seems to me (btw, “seems to me” and “in my opinion” are another type of important qualifier that is often left out) that such disdain for qualifiers is the antithesis of skepticism (and results in “skepticism).

      • Josh, as you often say “I think” your comment suffers from several problems that, unfortunately, cast a long shadow over its entire content, including over-generalizations, restricted views, isolated conclusions, omission of important information, unsupported opinions, broad speculation about “great” crtical thinking, and a few conspicuous errors. However, these shortcomings are distractions. What one won’t find in this comment is food for thought—irritating, poorly explained, as usual opinionated, but not particularily nourishing to brain and soul.

      • Let’s start with the first one. Where did I over-generalize?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        When did you ever not?

      • Chief -

        When did you ever not?

        First, Brian’s charge was in reference to a particular comment of mine. Do you see an example that supports his charge?

        Second, I have no doubt that I sometimes over-generalize. However, I’m pretty careful to control for that logical flaw. If I do it always – as you charge – surely you could just scan through a couple of my comments to provide examples.

        And I would suggest that after failing to fulfill my challenge, you take a look a just a few of your political rants – where you will find that they are built on a foundation of over-generalizations. I would be happy to provide you with examples if you have trouble seeing it for yourself.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Is Joshua worth engaging in debate with? No science – just some pathetic pop psychology used to justify a perceived moral equivalence. You object to free markets, free peoples, democracy and the rule of law? You call those essentials of our liberal enlightenment heritage political rants? You know I hold you in utter contempt. Why should I waste my time considering your nonsense for more than the time it takes to toss of a dismissive reply? Why on Earth should I consider that anything you say has any depth or relevance? Why would you imagine for a moment that anything you say has any concrete significance? Hence – everyhing is an absurd high level generalisation. Sans meaning. Sans common sense. Sans me. Don’t ring me – I’ll ring you.

      • +1
        “it is interesting just how often I have read “skeptics” complain when at the types of qualifiers you describe are included in scientific writing.”

        See the comment below. “weasel words” <— That's the phrase they regularly use to describe it, as if scientists are being cowardly by qualifying their statements.

        And when they don't a bunch of different(?) skeptics then complain they are hiding uncertainty.

        Perhaps(!) the wish is for the scientists to stop writing anything!

      • David Springer

        You mean like Pekka “The Weasel” Pirila? That cat is so slippery I made it my pet name for him.

    • Ammonite: You are describing *weasel words* that every insured scientist/engineer uses to maintain coverage. They are, in effect, uncertainty colloquialisms. These words are very important to those impressed with verbiage over reality. Not that there is anything wrong with that. What you are speaking of appears to be (instead of *is*) a sophisticated hedge that gives certainty a patina of plausible deniability. It’s just another form of distortion in it’s own right.

      • Joshua said: “it is interesting just how often I have read “skeptics” complain when at the types of qualifiers you describe are included in scientific writing.”

        I was going to +1 him and find some examples, now I don’t need to.

        thanks.

      • Howard: Which statement below is best reflective of reality?
        1. Consecutive words in this blog never contain the letter ‘w’.
        2. Consecutive words in this blog rarely contain the letter ‘w’.

      • David Springer

        Wonderful wisdom without which we would waver, willingly wandering, walking wistfully wherever we went wishing, wanting woefully, what we wearily work with wasn’t weird.

        Whatever!

      • Wow!

      • Your word word question is silly. Science and engineering problems are not clear cut. I don’t view WW’s with scorn, nor do I exaggerate their importance. They are used, I use them all the time, it’s what *we* do to protect our licenses and maintain E&O coverage.

        I’m not sure how denialists use them. Just because these idiots scorn their use is not evidence that WW’s are scientifically useful. It is well known among most critical thinkers that WW’s are, quite often, very unscientific estimate of uncertainty. WW’s usually mean, we are 100% sure(wink, wink), so go this way or that, but we might be off by a bit, so don’t make a federal case out of it if we are overly optimistic. In many instances, they are used in place of a detailed (and costly!) uncertainty analysis.

        As useful and necessary tricks of the trade, WW’s should always be viewed with a skepticism because they are a cheap and easy substitute for critical thought.

      • Howard: Thankyou for the clarification.

  51. randomengineer

    Irony.

    Example #2 re Reagan misses the point. The president sets the VECTOR, which essentially steers the policy direction. If the vector is crap, then the various things that can go wrong multiply. Conversely a proper vector has the tendency to lessen the impact of things that will invariably go wrong.

    In #3 the standard leftist refrain of Obama makes intuitive sense re education and the bad republicans are preventing this is spin. The republicans don’t want to raise taxes to continue what is currently the fees for higher learning, they want to fix the reason the prices are what they are in the first place.

    And this is in a piece from an academic who fancies himself as having the ability to critically think.

  52. Joe's World(progressive evolution)

    Judith,

    Many times I have tried re-applying the current models to an actual rotating planet and they fail spectacularly. Especially with timelines…
    Many parameters are said as being interesting but NOT included as there is no mathematical equation for it…so there is no room for it and it is dumped into the ignored section.
    We still use old LOD and other junk that misses planetary tilting and velocity changes that shifts the atmospheric air and gives us seasons.

    Complexity evolves into extraordinary complex.
    We ONLY evolved to walking on land when the land became fertile with organisms…Receding water would do this by lost water by the evaporation process to space.

  53. I’m not pleased with the form of the question, “What exactly is critical thinking?”

    I prefer ‘rigorously’ in place of ‘exactly’. But we go with the question we have, not the one we wish we had. (And I ought note, so far Steven Mosher has come closest in this thread to exhibiting rigorous critical thinking.)

    There is no critical thinking without critical writing. Critical writing is the discipline that exercises and develops the faculty of critical thought.

    Critical writing is not, despite the example I set here, the writing of critical-sounding snipes at one’s correspondents or the subjects of one’s thoughts.

    Critical writing is a discipline of careful, structured composition and revision through many iterations to examine a specific chain of thoughts in a reasoned and precise manner.

    (We ought applaud beesaman | October 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm | for contributing http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766 to this topic. It sets out a nice statement of some of the reasoning that might be applied in critical writing.)

    Perhaps the ultimate decantation of critical writing is computer programming (or at least well-done computer programming, which is rarer than one imagines), where the compiler and CPU render code into behaviors, and those behaviors can be tested to an objective standard, if the coders are so ambitious in their project as to attempt to capture some meaningful action. Strangely, some of the poorest critical writers and thinkers are computer programmers.

    All critical thinking relies on a rigid and inflexible use of a reasoning system appropriate to the subject. In computer programming, this will be a system little different from pure Logic, with some excursion into the tools built upon computer logic systems (some of these add-ons as illogical as could be wished, in some limited sense). In Astronomy, for example, a system reliant on Motion at a Distance, a form of reasoning that is not strictly logical, the reasoning of a computer programmer is on the contrary utterly inappropriate, and vice versa.

    Just the same, the best critical writing on religion requires entirely different reasoning systems than critical writing on Science. For Science, there is little better foundation than Newton’s Principia, after almost 300 years since its final edition, still the starting point for any serious critical science thinker.

    So, what exactly is critical thinking? Critical thinking is an aspirational method, where one seeks having practiced arduously perhaps a minimum of five thousand hours of independently validated and verified (ideally that produces actual working models, prototypes and production systems where possible) critical writing germaine to a field, to apply suitable reasoning and rigorous and precise method to examine a subject.

    And even then, one is quite often wrong, or at least must admit one does not know. But at least one isn’t so spectacularly wrong as those Dunning-Krugerites who think they’re right even though they’ve never attempted anything like rigor, and haven’t put in the time or work or obtained verification of the validity of their reasoning.

    • Joe's World(progressive evolution)

      Bart,

      Why do scientists exclude physical mechanics from our knowledge base on where, what, when, how and why or planet moved, evolved and is in constant change?
      The whole area of “common-sense” is excluded for studying a 150 timeline out of 4.5 billion years.
      Do you not think the current theories are missing a great deal?
      That would be F A C T S and E V I D E N C E ! ! !

      • Joe’s World(progressive evolution) | October 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm |

        It seems you may have wasted your 5,000 hours.

        Practice makes reflexive. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

    • “I prefer ‘rigorously’ in place of ‘exactly’. But we go with the question we have, not the one we wish we had. (And I ought note, so far Steven Mosher has come closest in this thread to exhibiting rigorous critical thinking.)

      I concur Steven Mosher has exhibited rigorous critical thinking, except on CO2 warming the atmosphere. Very unfortunate.

      • SamNC | October 12, 2012 at 6:58 am |

        4,999 hours, 59.5 seconds to go. You’ll get there yet. Maybe start with writing out Steve Mosher’s recent record of statements on CO2 and the atmosphere, and meet each of his comments with substantive source data and rigid logic, to see if your foregone conclusion has any merit, or changes when you explore it fully.

      • Steven Mosher

        Sam.

        C02 does not warm the atmosphere any more than a thermos warms coffee or a hat on your bald head warms you outside when its cold.

        1. C02, H20, and other green house gases retard the amount of energy earth loses to space via radiation. We know this from lab experiments, we know this from measurements made from space. We have theory to explain this. That theory is working physics. ie, engineers use it to build things that protect our country and make life more enjoyable.
        2. When you increase the concentration of these IR filters the system cools less rapidily than it would otherwise. You see this for yourself when you compare the temps on a clear night versus a cloudy night. The clouds dont warm the surface. They reduce the rate at which energy is lost to space. the same way a sliver lining on your thermos keeps the coffee warmer than it would be otherwise.

        These two facts. C02, H20, etc filter or partially block the transmission of IR, and the earth responds by cooling less rapidly are known physics, practiced engineering. ‘settled science’. Which means this: no scientist or engineer who values his time will waste the effort to prove or disprove these tenets.

        The real debate is this: If we double c02 will the planet warm by 1C? 3C? or 6? That squishy area gives everyone here plenty of latitude to have scientific based discussions

      • +1,

        +10 if you’d said: The real debate is this: If we double the tropospheric CO2 over a short period of time, such as a few hundred years (and CO2 then stopped rising), what will the final equibriium temperature of the troposphere be? What about other layers of the atmosphere? What will happen to the cryosphere? How much energy will other regions of Earth’s non-tectonic energy system, such as the oceans, gain?

      • Steven,

        “C02 does not warm the atmosphere any more than a thermos warms coffee or a hat on your bald head warms you outside when its cold.”

        Critical thinking should be the differences. A thermo does not warm coffee. It reducess coeffee heat lost by reflection and by thermal insulation as well as comparable mass. A hat keeps your head loose less heat by insulation. Which CO2 property has that effect? CO2 mass is minimal compared with the atmospheric mass. CO2 is not significantly better (actually significantly less with the miserable 400ppm) in insulation than N2 or O2.

        “1. C02, H20, and other green house gases retard the amount of energy earth loses to space via radiation.”

        All materials can retard the amount of the Earth energy loses to space. Unfortunately 400ppm compared with ->100% atmospheric air mass has minimal effect in retarding the Earth energy loses by any means including radiation.

        “We know this from lab experiments, we know this from measurements made from space. We have theory to explain this.”

        What makes you so sure CO2 is a significant factor in those experiments and measurements? Have you ever critically think about it yourself that you could have been taught wrong about CO2. Which CO2 physical property that could warm up the whole mass of air. How do you explain with their specific heat capacity terms. How air gets warm by that miserable 400ppm.

        “That theory is working physics. ie, engineers use it to build things that protect our country and make life more enjoyable.”

        Be specific here.

        “2. When you increase the concentration of these IR filters the system cools less rapidily than it would otherwise.”

        Be specific here about your IR filters and how they work with their physical properties, especially specific heat capacities.

        “You see this for yourself when you compare the temps on a clear night versus a cloudy night.”

        Clouds reflect some IR and absorb some. Clouds have minimal CO2 in it. 400ppm CO2 in a cloud has minimal effect in reducing IR radiation and does not reflect IR and let most IR directly pass thru to the space. CO2 has no reducing energy loss effect on a cloudy day or night.

        “The clouds dont warm the surface. They reduce the rate at which energy is lost to space.”
        Agreed.

        “ the same way a sliver lining on your thermos keeps the coffee warmer than it would be otherwise.”

        Not quite the same if you think critically.

        “These two facts. C02, H20, etc filter or partially block the transmission of IR, and the earth responds by cooling less rapidly are known physics, practiced engineering.”
        You messed up CO2 with H2O physical properties. I would have agreed with you if you leave out CO2.

        ‘settled science’. Which means this: no scientist or engineer who values his time will waste the effort to prove or disprove these tenets.

        No real scientist or engineer bother to waste time on CO2 BS. Only non-crictical thinking persons believe it in the climate modeling GIGO (famous old computer term garbage in/garbage out in the ‘70s) land.

        “The real debate is this: If we double c02 will the planet warm by 1C? 3C? or 6? That squishy area gives everyone here plenty of latitude to have scientific based discussions”
        Actually, no warming from CO2. None of the CO2 physical properties can warm the massive air mass by 0.0000000000….. degree C.

      • SamNC | October 13, 2012 at 1:25 am |

        4,999 hours, 55 minutes left to go.

        Oh, one ought note, just because writing employs some of the techniques of critical thinking, there is no guarantee it will produce correct conclusions.

        As we see from yours.

        But keep trying!

  54. The term ‘critical thinking’ has been perverted to sophistry; use ‘analytical thinking’ instead. Some will understand the distinction.
    =========

  55. global warming seems to have become a new battleground where egalitarian communitarians launch ad hominem attacks on analytical science methodologists.

  56. Critical Theory and critical thinking developed from a dissatisfaction with post-war and post-colonial modernism which in itself was a continuation of Kant’s Enlightenment which sought to find the limits of human thought and promoted egalitarianism. Critical thinking sought to go beyond the boundaries of accepted human thought and instead sought emancipation for all. It has a deep connection to literary criticism less so to other disciplines though this is changing.

  57. Is there something about progressivism that prevents critical thinking? In part. But it is more a lack of critical thinking that leads many people to adopt progressive positions.

    What is the primary argument made by CAGW advocates to non-scientists? Appeal to authority. Why do most non-scientist CAGW advocates accept CAGW? Same reason, reliance on authority.

    Why this preference for authority over critical/analytical thinking?

    Because the core of progressivism is elitism. The belief that a small set of superior people should make decision for the masses. Appeal to authority, rather than analysis, reflection, self-criticism and debate, is thus the modus operandi of progressive policy makers.

    Progressives vilify even the outlets through which contradictory thought is made available to the public. Talk radio doesn’t follow the party line? Try to pass the faux fairness doctrine. Internet sites make contrary information available? Castigate them and try to marginalize them.

    Defame your opponents. Ridicule them. Convince your followers to not even expose themselves to heretical thought.

    This is why progressives avoid debate like the plague. This is why progressives can only argue using straw man arguments ala Skeptical Science. They do not even know what their opponents really think. How can they critically compare their own positions then?

    This is why progressives, including virtually all CAGW advocates, are incapable of articulating their opponents’ positions. It is the ego, the belief in one’s own superiority, that leads one to become a progressive in the first place. It is that same ego, or vanity, that prevents the progressive from even learning about, let alone considering, opposing views.

    Critical thinking requires humility. And humility is the opposite of the character trait, vanity, that leads most to become progressives. If you are vain enough to think that you are capable of planning an economy of 300,000,000+ people; if you can control the climate with the force of your intellect; if you can halt the rising of the seas by merely being elected, why ever would you need to be critical of your own august opinions?

    Yet most conservatives were more progressive in their youth. They have virtually all discarded beliefs they originally held. They have, in short gotten to where they are through critical analysis. They are capable of articulating their opponent’s views because they have heard and read about them. Many have shared them in the past. Do conservatives always engage in critical analysis? Certainly not. But the vast majority have already engaged in it on their path to becoming conservatives.

    There is no symmetry in the climate debate (or in the larger political debate for that matter), on this issue.

    Show me a humble progressive and I’ll show you a…oh wait, you can’t.

    • CAGW is not a progressive idea. It’s a rational conclusion based on the scientific evidence at hand.

      “What is the primary argument made by CAGW advocates to non-scientists? Appeal to authority.”

      A valid appeal to authority. The reason it’s the primary argument is because it’s a lot faster to make and as you point out many non-scientists accept it.

      “Why do most non-scientist CAGW advocates accept CAGW? Same reason, reliance on authority. Why this preference for authority over critical/analytical thinking?”

      Because many people don’t have the time or ability to learn modern climatology and figure it out themselves so they defer.

      Just as many people don’t:

      -have the time to learn modern medicine so they defer judgement to doctors.

      -have the time to learn auto mechanics so they defer judgement to auto mechanics.

      -have the time to learn how computers work so they defer judgement to computer repair specialists.

      When people talk about “getting a second opinion” or even a third, what are they doing? They are trying to establish what the consensus of experts is. Evidently they find it useful to know, despite climate skeptics trying to tell us the concept is some kind of evil.

      This is the problem for climate skeptics: A large proportion of the population will continue to accept CAGW so long as a majority of climate scientists do. If you can’t convince the climate scientists that CAGW is wrong, you can’t win.

      • “A valid appeal to authority. The reason it’s the primary argument is because it’s a lot faster to make and as you point out many non-scientists accept it.”

        When you can copy and paste, time isn’t a factor.

        “Because many people don’t have the time or ability to learn modern climatology and figure it out themselves so they defer.

        Just as many people don’t:

        -have the time to learn modern medicine so they defer judgement to doctors. ”

        Sooo, your if your tummy hurts, Dr Z says you should get a gall badder operation??
        Or you should go to emergency room, because that what a TV show said you should do?

        You don’t see the problem, here?

        “This is the problem for climate skeptics: A large proportion of the population will continue to accept CAGW so long as a majority of climate scientists do. If you can’t convince the climate scientists that CAGW is wrong, you can’t win.”

        70% of population believe in UFOs, it doesn’t mean much.
        Or:
        “-More than three quarters (77 percent) of those surveyed believe there are signs that aliens have visited Earth, and over half (55 percent) think Men in Black-style agents threaten those who report seeing them.

        -More than a third (36 percent) believe aliens have already visited.

        -Eighty percent believe the government has hidden information on UFOs from the public.”
        http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/06/28/most-americans-believe-government-keeps-ufo-secrets-survey-finds

      • Latimer Alder

        @lolwot

        Which definition of ‘Catastrophic’ are you using to support your sweeping generalisation that ‘the majority of climate scientists’ support it?

        IIRC the only consensus that has any documented proof is that ‘the planet is warming and human emissions have probably played a part’ – or a close cousin of that statement. Even I don’t have too many problems with that.

        But you claim the majority of climate scientists support ‘Catastrophic’ AGW, which is a beast of a very different colour.

        Where can I see the data to back up your claim please? TIA

      • Latimer Alder

        @lolowot

        Thank you for your reply.

        ‘I am using the same definition of catastrophic as in CAGW’

        But I fear that there appears to be a certain circularity in your argument that may escaped your attention :-(

        If you define CAGW as Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming and then define ‘Catastrophic as in CAGW’, then we are in an infinite loop n’est-ce pas?

        Is it possible you could define one or the other for us using external rather than internalised terms? Then we will all be able to follow your discussion about ‘the majority of climate scientists supporting CAGW’.

        Thanks so much.

      • I am using the same definition of catastrophic as in CAGW

      • lolwot

        You have explained the CAGW “credo” in nice words.

        But we all know that “argument from authority” is a logical fallacy.

        What is needed is “argument from evidence” (Feynman, etc.)

        And that is precisely what is lacking for the CAGW premise.

        While this is another topic, it just isn’t true that a “large portion of the population accept CAGW”.

        Check the poll results.

        In the USA almost 70% have said they think climate scientists have fudged the data.

        That’s a pretty damning result for the public credibility of climate scientists and the CAGW premise, which IPCC is trying to sell to the public.

        Max

      • Heinrich the Norwegian Elkhound

        70 % !!! Oh noes!

        Why that’s the same fraction of USA-ians that believed that Saddam Hussein flew the planes into the WTC towers!

        One can never overestimate the gullibility of the citizens of TV-nation.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      People will believe in global warming if it keeps warming. Most climate scientists accept decadal variability – if they don’t well it is hardly science or ctitical thinking is it?

  58. Oh, speaking of, an interesting toolset used in medicine:

    http://www.aaos.org/research/evidence/levelstables.pdf

    Though perhaps there are some questions to debate about adapting the approach to climate.

    • David Springer

      Bart R is an interesting toolset.

      Well maybe not that interesting but he’s definitely a tool.

    • Bart R

      The criteria you cite for decision-making in medicine are all based on argument from evidence

      This is precisely what is lacking for the CAGW premise of IPCC.

      Max

      • manacker | October 12, 2012 at 8:13 am |

        Well, at least you haven’t stopped making assertions that are bald-faced lies and illogic. For CAGW to be an IPCC premise, it’d have to have been a premise of it’s initiators and sponsors: the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53. (http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/43/a43r053.htm)

        Concerned that certain human activities could change global climate
        patterns, threatening present and future generations with potentially severe economic and social consequences,

        Noting with concern that the emerging evidence indicates that continued growth in atmospheric concentrations of “greenhouse” gases could produce global warming with an eventual rise in sea levels, the effects of which could be disastrous for mankind if timely steps are not taken at all levels,

        Recognizing the need for additional research and scientific studies into
        all sources and causes of climate change,..

        See, the premise isn’t CAGW. The premise is concern about what could happen based on emerging evidence. The opposite of your claim.

        Sort of comforting, that some things in this world can always be relied on. Old Faithful’s geyser, the tides, the phases of the Moon, and manacker being just plain wrong.

        Read the table.

        Replace “Therapeutic Studies – Investigating the results of treatment,” “Prognostic Studies – Investigating the effect of a patient characteristic on the outcome of disease,” “Diagnostic Studies – Investigating a diagnostic test,” with the appropriate chapter or section headings from each IPCC report; heck, you don’t even have to change “Economic and Decision Analyses – Developing an economic or decision model”.

        What _level_ of evidence does the IPCC provide in each category?

        Compared to your Level VI evidence, can you see why you’re so often wrong?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Replace the lies and distortions from the man who has earned the nickname of scatological spice – and you are left with nothing scientific at all.

        http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch2s2-9-1.html

        Add to that the familiar decadal patterns – http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-3-23.html – and the frail conclusions falter.

        What causes these ‘low frequency climate variations’ referred to by the IPCC?

        And indeed we know that translates into drought for the US of dust bowl proportions for decades yet – as we have been warning for some time.

        http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/oceananddrought.html

        Bart message invariably comes from supplanting understanding with scatology.

      • I thought Bart R was Delusional Spice.

        Is Scatological Spice supposed to be a better try?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Willard – it is far too late to save poetry. In fact poetry doesn’t want to be saved. Poetry wants to be left alone to do whatever the f_ck she wants without advice from irrelevant dipsters. The only thing I regret is bad climate poetry.

        One thin September soon
        A floating continent disappears
        In midnight sun

        Vapors rise as
        Fever settles on an acid sea
        Neptune’s bones dissolve

        Snow glides from the mountain
        Ice fathers floods for a season
        A hard rain comes quickly

        Then dirt is parched
        Kindling is placed in the forest
        For the lightning’s celebration

        Unknown creatures
        Take their leave, unmourned
        Horsemen ready their stirrups

        Passion seeks heroes and friends
        The bell of the city
        On the hill is rung

        The shepherd cries
        The hour of choosing has arrived
        Here is your tool

        Al Gore

        Is meds the best he can do – do we not call that concern trolling? Is the scatological imperative too far fetched for such an obvious turd merchant?

        No response to actual science or linkies from the space cadets? Not that I expect any.

      • Chief Hydrologist | October 12, 2012 at 11:15 pm |

        Meds. Get back on yours. We worry about you.

      • I don’t know BartR, he just hears the mermaids singing while you tend to just see the rent seeking asphalt junkies. The Gulf Stream link you posted earlier may contain a message, doncha know.

  59. Berényi Péter

    Stage zero in “critical thinking” is to accept and internalize deeply the following pair of maxims:

    1. We think we think clearly, but that’s only because we don’t think clearly
    2. Assumption is the mother of all f@@kups

    The next stage is learning to utter the magic phrase “I do not know”, whenever it actually happens to be the case. And don’t just mutter it under your breath, but say it in public, loudly & clearly.

    Your general stance should always be that of humility.

    About the “The ability to think in terms of multiple, rather than single, causes.” the one thing you should always be aware of is that such ability does not exist. If the question gets convoluted enough that the analytic method is not applicable, that is, one can’t break down the system into single cause threads and the interaction between them, then no method is applicable at all. In cases like that no amount of thinking gets you anywhere, for the so called holistic approach is nothing else but to act on gut feeling (with no thinking whatsoever, that is).

  60. Clever, clever humans created critical language, science and its methods. Aristotle’s syllogisms and logical fallacies, Socrates’ skepticicism and
    Nullis in verba, Galileo’s empiric test and be damned. Bold analogies Followed by rigorous testing and … ‘fly us ter the moon!’

    Bright side, dark side. Such clever humans but sometimes we fergit
    What the old masters told us regarding hubris., Sophicles in
    ‘ King Oedipus, ‘Euripides’ in “Media,’ -that pride goes before a fall

    Here, at the Climate Etc Agora, as elsewhere round the traps,
    Does measured uncertainty reign, fall like gentle rain
    Upon the place beneath? … Nope!

    Here, like there, maybe everywhere … is where ignorant armies
    Clash by night, or day, depending on time zones, fall into sloughs
    Of bias, the troops firing off ad hominums and strawmen,
    While shielded by noble and confirmation confusion …you bet!

    The troops ability ter think in terms of multiples and dynamic complexity? Some do and some do not. ‘ The Republican or Progressive Brain?’
    Say, Its hedgehogs all the way down! Two legs good, four legs bad!

    So science is predictive? Rigorous science, sure, but social sciences?
    Taleb and Tetloch show us how we mostly miss the big event
    And make excuses fer our failures … or jest plain fergit!

    Critical thinking’s linked ter empiric data, but sometimes …
    Tirra lirra … scientists and others In cloud towers,
    Modelling complex climate science or etcetera,
    Happily while away the tenured* hours.

    Ultimately, it’s nature that rules, regardless of the models’ oracular
    Projections, there’s the rub ter confirmation bias, though
    Doubtless, those dis-satisfied, their theories down the drain,
    Soon find a way ter put a spin on it, maybe wipe clean the slate,
    Or drop it down the memory hole …

    * Follow the money, a great impetus ter ignoble cause corruption. Plays havoc with critical thinking. )

    • Beth

      re: Beth Cooper | October 12, 2012 at 5:13 am |

      Thank you for illustrating that critical thinking is not the only valuable mode of thinking. Writing without reason, rigor, precision or forethought can be beautiful, moving and inspirational, you remind us.

      The cadence, meter and rhyme of poetry have aesthetic qualities that have nothing to do with logic or science, correctness or comprehension.

      Keep up the good work, oh voice of the other eight Muses.

  61. Michael Larkin

    Evidently, professing to know how to think critically does not guarantee one can do it oneself. I think Wyckoff demonstrates this quite neatly.

    If you ask me, critical thinking requires an attitude of detachment. One mustn’t allow oneself to be invested in the outcome of an investigation of evidence.

  62. To question yourself and others what believes, thoughts and then observe and find logical answers.

  63. On a lighter note, I’m looking for help in translating Social Science truisms for physical scientists. Here’s what I’ve managed so far.

    1. The ability to think empirically, not theoretically.
    Don’t let math get the better of your intuition – sure looks flat to me, Christoforo.

    2. The ability to think in terms of multiple, rather than single, causes.
    The more adjustable parameters, the easier your proof.

    3. The ability to think in terms of the sizes of things, rather than only in terms of their direction.
    Size matters! (I think the reference is to feedback not consensus, however.)

    4. The ability to think like foxes, not hedgehogs.
    Worrying about the 2nd Law will never make you a Climate Scientist.

    5. The ability to understand one’s own biases.
    Hey, there are alternate realities – Computer Games!

    • quondam | October 12, 2012 at 5:34 am |

      Migratory animals travel far enough that they must take the curvature of the Earth into account to complete their circuits. Insects that build geometric structures – like honey bees, ants, termites – all show the ability to process the arc of the Sun’s transit about the globe.

      Apparently these brainless creatures all understand that the Earth is not flat, a realization humans have shared since at least 300 BCE.

      By pure mathematics, Galileo reasoned that Aristotle was wrong about two objects of different mass falling at different speed; Galileo then afterwards proved his mathematical proposition by experiment on ramps with rolling cylinders.

      Read Newton’s Principia and think about these errors of assertion.

  64. David Springer

    I stopped reading shortly after the faux conversion of Richard Muller. Anyone who didn’t see through that is pretty flippin’ far from a critical thinker.

    Some the trash that impresses Curry enough to post it here for further consideration makes me wonder at times about her critical thinking capacity.

  65. Chief Hydrologist

    ‘Arrogance, pedantry, and dogmatism … the occupational diseases of those who spend their lives directing the intellects of the young.’ Henry S Canby

    Critical thinking involves a few rules for living. Try this simple quiz – http://unilearning.uow.edu.au/critical/1a-1.html – from my alma mater. Hint – brushing your teeth and jogging do not involve critical thinking – although I struggle to make the distinction in the case of brushing your teeth. I can take half an hour to pick the right toothbrush let alone decide on fluoride, gel or mint or whitening or sensitive teeth formula not to mention to floss or use those tiny little brushes for in between teeth or whether to get the cool ice plax mouthwash or …

    Despite my obvious expertise in everyday critical thinking – or perhaps that should be obsessive concern with dental hygiene – there is perhaps more to creative thought than simple rules. Creative thought existed before language – and the evidence there is the use of tools. Something that is not limited to Homo sapiens. But the use of language as a tool opened up new opportunities that we are still exploring to describe both the internal and external world – and to link them.

    Explore

    A framework for bridging the rocky crags of emotion and experience.
    It is a children’s green jungle gym in a sandy playground by the ocean.
    The grass worn thin beneath the arch of the ladder. Can I swing and
    twist and somersault never fearing to fall? No. Unless it is a ladder that
    reaches to the moon. That’s not this ladder. This ladder spans the abyss
    between feeling, impulse, emotion and the world, between life and living
    in the world. That was the plan but it never happens. You always twist
    and somersault and fall, the nature of the game dictates the terms until
    destiny succumbs to love and arms reach out to clasp you safely to their
    breast. Without love all action is daring – with love no daring is fatal.

    From the perspective of both Einstein and Feynman creative thought precedes language or mathematics and has a visual element. Actual thought is intuitive, fluid, visionary.

    “The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be ‘voluntarily’ reproduced and combined. …. This combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs which can be communicated to others”. Albert Einstein in a letter to Jacques Hadamard.

    ‘A more contemporary example of visual thinking is given by James Gleick from “The Life and Science of Richard Feynman”, Vintage Books, New York, 1992.

    “Visualization – you keep repeating that”, he (Feynman) said to another historian, Silvan S. Schweber, who was trying to interview him.
    Feynman continues: “What I am really trying to do is bring birth to clarity, which is really a half-assedly thought-out-pictorial semi-vision thing. I would see the jiggle-jiggle-jiggle or the wiggle of the path. Even now when I talk about the influence functional, I see the coupling and I take this turn – like as if there was a big bag of stuff – and try to collect it in away and to push it. It’s all visual. It’s hard to explain.”
    Schweber: “In some ways you see the answer – ?”
    Feynman: “The character of the answer, absolutely. An inspired method of picturing, I guess. Ordinarily I try to get the pictures clearer, but in the end the mathematics can take over and be more efficient in communicating the idea of the picture. In certain particular problems, that I have done, it was necessary to continue the development of the picture as the method before the mathematics could be really done.” Quoted from – http://www.sv.vt.edu/classes/ESM4714/methods/vizthink.html

    Logic can only get you so far after the fact. The prerequisite I think is to imaginatively interpret the world. Unless you can see the wiggle and the waggle it will be a struggle.

    • David Springer

      Chief Hydrologist | October 12, 2012 at 7:51 am | Reply

      ‘Arrogance, pedantry, and dogmatism … the occupational diseases of those who spend their lives directing the intellects of the young.’ Henry S Canby

      Great quote. You should have stopped there instead of writing a thousand words of your own which amounted to critical thinking on critical thinking. That’s an infinite recursion trap which is of course yet another subcategory of woolgathering.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        You mean you didn’t get to the Einstein or Feynman quotes on how to think?

        such as – From the perspective of both Einstein and Feynman creative thought precedes language or mathematics and has a visual element. Actual thought is intuitive, fluid, visionary.

        Actual thought is a little beyond you springer – as is critical thinking.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        “The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be ‘voluntarily’ reproduced and combined. …. This combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs which can be communicated to others”. Albert Einstein in a letter to Jacques Hadamard.

        Here’s another quote for you springer – “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Macbeth Quote (Act V, Scene V).

      • I am sorry to have to agree with you as a stinking denier of phat tails and tipping points. However, you are absolutely right about the technical and artistic primacy of visual thought. It’s a *mostly* male trait enhanced by sloth, dyslexia and ADHD. Feminine-style thinkers typified by Dave Springer, Latimer Adler, Joshua, AFOMD, et. al. *frequently* rely on pop-psychology, politics, appeals to authority, word games and inappropriate analogies because they lack the neurological wiring required to visualize whirld peas.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        In my own dark days of the soul I thought poetry dead,
        and the eschatological promise would burst like a new
        and frightening dawn on the consciousnes of humanity.

        It is hard not to sound new age dippy – but the antidote to eschatology is to fearlessly dive into the depths of our eternal soul.

        ‘The storm made bliss of my sea-borne awakenings.
        Lighter than a cork, I danced on the waves
        Which men call eternal rollers of victims,
        For ten nights, without once missing the foolish eye of the harbor lights!

        Sweeter than the flesh of sour apples to children,
        The green water penetrated my pinewood hull
        And washed me clean of the bluish wine-stains and the splashes of vomit,
        Carrying away both rudder and anchor.

        And from that time on I bathed in the Poem
        Of the Sea, star-infused and churned into milk,
        Devouring the green azures; where, entranced in pallid flotsam,
        A dreaming drowned man sometimes goes down;

        Where, suddenly dyeing the bluenesses, deliriums
        And slow rhythms under the gleams of the daylight,
        Stronger than alcohol, vaster than music
        Ferment the bitter rednesses of love!’

        Rimbaud – The Drunken Boat

        Catch you later

      • David Springer

        Did you take too many viagras or something?

      • Well, David. At least you did not imply Chief was a pederast. That’s real discipline on your part. Bravo.

        BTW, are you aware that projecting your proclivities and short-comings are quite entertaining: You are a caricature of characters seen in Woody Allen movies.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Yeah – really – as Woody said – the brain is springers second favourite organ.

        But I must admit to being a little confused. You might mention autism as well as overwhelmingly a male condition – but creative thought is a human trait and not gender specific. It is intuitive, fluid, emotional, visual and language and maths serves only to communicate after the fact of thought. We each have a reality that is composed of many things but is hardly concrete and solid but intangible and mysterious. We are limited creatures in three dimensions. Where comes this sense of infinity in a grain of sand – of the oneness of all things? How do we stop ourselves from going mad with mad imaginings of revealed truth? I think still there is one criteria for truth. Truth is beauty and beauty truth – that is all ye know and all ye need to know. At the core of existence must be joy and love.

        People are my favourite animals

        Glorious and resplendant: brave and beautiful.
        The only thing i haven’t figures out is why
        we aren’t dancing in the streets with joy
        in our hearts and love in our lives.

        In my own dark days of the soul I thought poetry dead,
        and the eschatological promise would burst like a new
        and frightening dawn on the consciousnes of humanity.
        But I still know where poetry lives.

        With vision and imagination in our minds.
        In the nexus between past and future ready
        to define experience and express it in the instant
        expanding to embrace eternity, infinity and humanity.

        There is quite a good essay on eschatology in wikepedia.

        ‘In Bahá’í belief, creation has neither a beginning nor an end. Instead the eschatology of other religions is viewed as symbolic. In Bahá’í belief, human time is marked by a series of progressive revelations in which successive messengers or prophets come from God. The coming of each of these messengers is seen as the day of judgement to the adherents of the previous religion, who may choose to accept the new messenger and enter the ‘heaven’ of belief, or denounce the new messenger and enter the ‘hell’ of denial.’

        There is a secular eschatology that is alive and well – along with all the usual suspects. I think it comes with uncritically assuming that anything that pops into your head is the product of unassailable logic. That way lay demons and dragons. Assume the reverse – that anything you think is as likely as not to be wrong, refrain from falling into a psychic loop, have fun, get messy, make mistakes.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Damn – didn’t close the tag

        But it is woth repeating – the brain is springers second favourite organ.

      • Well, Chief @ 5.27, my thinking is very critical of eschatology – “The part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind” – and in particular your quote that “In Bahá’í belief, human time is marked by a series of progressive revelations in which successive messengers or prophets come from God.”

        Belief is not knowledge, is not truth. It is a conceptual construct only of value to those who do not seek or know truth. To know truth, you need to “Know thyself,” to examine the only microcosm of the universe which we can directly experience. All of our knowledge of the universe arises from interactions of our six sense doors with the universe. When we are attending to a particular sense door, we cognise that a sound/vision/thought has come to that sense door. We then perceive that sound in terms of our past experience and give a valuation to it as good, bad or neutral: e.g., words of praise – good; words of abuse: bad. This gives rise to a sensation on the body, pleasant, neutral or unpleasant, in accordance with that valuation. Our so-called conscious mind might or might not be aware of a particular sensation, but the main part of our mind, the deeper part, often wrongly named sub-conscious or unconscious, is aware of every sensation. This deeper mind reacts to every sensation, with liking to pleasant sensations, disliking of unpleasant ones. In our ignorance, we let this momentary liking turn into craving, the disliking into aversion.

        This has nothing to do with beliefs, theology, destiny, revelations or prophets of God or gods. It is the actual, observable, process going on within each one of us throughout our lives. Only by observing this process with detachment, as a dis-interested scientist, can we understand reality, as it is, at the actual rather than apparent level. We can see that we are not an ongoing, solid entity, but flows of mental and physical phenomena which arise and pass away with great rapidity. Nothing enduring, nothing to cling to, no “I, me, mine” to get attached to and hung up about.

        Visitors due, more anon if requested.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Down here?

        In my own dark days of the soul I thought poetry dead,
        and the eschatological promise would burst like a new
        and frightening dawn on the consciousnes of humanity.

        It is hard not to sound new age dippy – but the antidote to eschatology is to fearlessly dive into the depths of our eternal soul.

        ‘The storm made bliss of my sea-borne awakenings.
        Lighter than a cork, I danced on the waves
        Which men call eternal rollers of victims,
        For ten nights, without once missing the foolish eye of the harbor lights!

        Sweeter than the flesh of sour apples to children,
        The green water penetrated my pinewood hull
        And washed me clean of the bluish wine-stains and the splashes of vomit,
        Carrying away both rudder and anchor.

        And from that time on I bathed in the Poem
        Of the Sea, star-infused and churned into milk,
        Devouring the green azures; where, entranced in pallid flotsam,
        A dreaming drowned man sometimes goes down;

        Where, suddenly dyeing the bluenesses, deliriums
        And slow rhythms under the gleams of the daylight,
        Stronger than alcohol, vaster than music
        Ferment the bitter rednesses of love!’

        Rimbaud – The Drunken Boat

        Catch you later

  66. Muller certainly seems a rather questionable example of a critical thinker, at least regarding his ventures into climatology. He seems to me rather naive and impressionable.
    Elsewhere in his article Wyckoff writes that “In such a polarized situation, the only way to finance these programs would be to borrow money, and these days much of the government’s borrowed funds are supplied by overseas investors from places like China and Japan. The interest payments on government bonds, then, are a real hindrance to economic growth.” A more critical thinker might have looked more deeply into how governments could, if they really wanted to, finance non-inflationary investment in fields such as infrastructure and education without getting further into debt or having to make interest payments. Wyckoff might benefit from a reading of Ellen Brown’s book Web of Debt (Third Millennium Press, 2007). Or see http://www.webofdebt.com

  67. David Springer

    I usually agree with you, but this time I don’t agree that the Wyckoff post was “trash”.

    Wyckoff (via Judith) achieved at least one of his objectives: he got us to exchanging views.

    He slipped in a few silly (and loaded) examples, such as the “conversion” of “doubting Thomas”, Richard Muller, which demonstrated exactly the opposite of what he intended, but most of his “bullet points” themselves were valid and thought-provoking, although the explanations were weak IMO.

    Although he borrowed it from Philip Tetlock and Isaiah Berlin, his “fox and hedgehog” analogy does show a difference between the sides in the ongoing scientific and policy debate on the question, “is AGW a potential catastrophe unless we act or not?”

    CAGW “hedgehogs” are fixated on “one big thing and apply that understanding to everything” (AGW), essentially to the exclusion of everything else.

    CAGW skeptics are more like “foxes”, in that they are skeptical of the “one big thing” for many different reasons (for which they are often criticized by the “hedgehogs” as being inconsistent).

    In the political study cited by Wyckoff, “Tetlock showed that foxes outperform hedgehogs in making predictions, and hence tend to make better decisions.”

    That;s a pretty damning conclusion for the supporters of CAGW, IMO.

    Max

    • CAGW skeptics are not more like foxes.

      CAGW skeptics are more like the animal in this video:

    • David Springer

      manacker | October 12, 2012 at 7:58 am | Reply

      “Wyckoff (via Judith) achieved at least one of his objectives: he got us to exchanging views.”

      Judith can post output from a random verbage generator and it would get us to “exchange views”. The point is whether the topic would be climatically relevant. I say picking nits out of the fine meaning of “critical thinking” is pedagogical pedantry which is, of course, a subcategory of woolgathering. On the other hand CAGW apologists and sheep do have a great deal in common…

  68. My previous comment on this post was a bit negative. Wyckoff also makes some fair points, which do have relevance to the climate controversy.

  69. Critical thinking in public debates, as in any political arena, is not exactly plausible. The goal of such debates isn’t to be right but to convince others, therefore it’s rhetorical, or maybe better stated as sophistry. Whether it’s Reagan or Obama you are not going to hear a complex, reasoned statement about the economy. You are going to hear credit, blame, and promises all tidied up in easy to remember talking points and slogans. Even seasoned economists cannot agree on whether it’s better to raise taxes on the rich and give the money to the poor or to lower taxes so as to stimulate business and investment and let prosperity “trickle down”. How far would a politician get if he tried to answer a debate question by explaining economic theory? The only people left awake would be me and half a dozen other geeks who would actually appreciate the lesson. Could you imagine a president that said this? ” The economy is booming but I cannot take the credit for the boom. My tax cuts (and/or stimulus) was a drop in a huge bucket that really didn’t matter…the real credit belongs to the business cycle spurred on by…”. I might just vote for this guy…

    • Are you saying that the only goal of public debate is to “win”? That the only outcomes can be win and lose?

      The goal of public debates CAN be greater understanding of the issues, resources, mechanics, and values involved in a pending decision.

      It is true that some debates are set up so that there is a declared winner (like how many people exit a particular door). But must public debates be set up so that the only thing that matters is to “win”?

  70. As others have pointed out, in offering examples for the thinking skills he lists, Wyckoff reveals his own unconscious biases .. As examples of ‘critical thinkers’ he uses democrats andsupporters of AGW, (Mullerand his hotly contested road to Damascus conversion is an ironic choice,) .As examples of ‘uncritical thinkers’ he uses republicans and opponents of a carbon tax. Re hedgehog thinking and carbon tax effects, he disregards AGW as a single cause explanation of a complex dynamical system, and disregards flow on effects of high energy costs and reduction in energy efficiency and reliability.

    Wyckoff’s point (5) ‘The ability to understand one’s own unconscious bias’ could be a reference ter his own myopia, lol. Oh, well, jest might be time ter pay a visit to the eye doctor myself.

  71. Hey, lolwot ‘ ‘You spelt capitalize wrong’ is poor grammar, “wrong’ should be replaced by an adverb. :-)

    • lolwot

      Spelt: a grain related to wheat
      Spelled: past tense of “spell” (Am.)

      Is “spelled” spelled “spelt” in the UK and Australia?

      Max

      • Is “spelled” spelled “spelt” in the UK and Australia?

        I think spelled is spelled “spelt” in Canada and US:

        “spelt 1 (splt)
        n.
        A hardy wheat grown mostly in Europe.
        [Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin spelta, probably of Germanic origin; akin to Middle Dutch spelte, wheat.]

        spelt 2 (splt)
        v.
        A past tense and a past participle of spell1.
        http://www.thefreedictionary.com/spelt

        English is rather annoying. I guess we are in need of more authority.

      • Max, I think spelt is Medieval English. In many instances where modern US English spelling differs from modern British English spelling, the US version is not a corruption but was current in Britain during early American settlement.

      • I think I’d previously always spelt the past tense of spell as “spelt”. But now I am not sure

        Until I saw this discussion, I assumed “spelled” was a term for someone who’d been put under a witches spell, or some one who’d been given a rest from hard work. For example, a horse that had been spelled for a while (i.e., given a holiday from doing farm work). We used to rotate the horse we used for farm work; we’d give our horses a ‘spell’ from work. Those horse had been ‘spelled’. It was also a term used when doing hard manual work. One worker would give another a ‘spell’; i.e. he’d take over doing the work for a while while the other guy too a ‘spell’. He’d been ‘spelled’.

        ” But when spell carries the sense to temporarily relieve (someone) from work, spelled is the preferred form throughout the English-speaking …”
        https://www.google.com.au/search?rlz=1C1CHNU_enAU490AU490&aq=f&sugexp=chrome,mod=2&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=spelled

      • Further to the above, you could also use ‘spelled’ in this sense:

        Michael Mann is instructed to take a year off from talking BS. When he returns it might, perhaps, be appropriate to say he’d been ‘spelled’.

        Hopefully, he’s taken the opportunity to see the error of his ways so that when he returns from his ‘spell’, he retracts all his nonsense.

  72. Guess we use anything and everything we can to explore and understand our world and universe … trial and error, imagination, ‘senses working overtime,’ as in the XTC song.

  73. It seems that while it is relatively easy to criticise the thinking processes of others it is decidedly difficult to be objective when evaluating ones own strengths and weaknesses in this area.

    The subject of point (5) in Wyckoff’s analysis would be especially difficult since unconscious bias is more likely to be observed by outsiders rather than by the subjects themselves.

    My take on the subject of critical thinking is that unless due regard is given to the differing viewpoints in any issue, scientific or otherwise, any opinion given remains just that. A dialogue of the deaf, so to speak, does not achieve anything.

  74. Critical thinking as a set of skills can be used in many domains via inquiry, analysis- – by investigation, comparison or linking, as long as reason is used to establish claims and conclusion stages.
    Critical Theory on the other hand is not a skill set, knowledge is already established, its purpose is to create new knowledge. You always have a particular position, one that cannot be in the abstract, you are always in relation to something else. That relation between subject and enquirer is the precursor to being reflective and willing to question.
    Habermas would have it as ‘the will to seek rational self determination.’

  75. I nearly gave up here

    “I have great admiration for scholars like Richard Muller, the University of California physicist and global warming skeptic, whose work was heavily funded by the conservative Koch brothers. When new, more comprehensive data from his own research team provided convincing evidence of global temperature increases, Muller changed his mind, and later sounded the alarm about carbon dioxide emissions.”

    Of course the picture given to your trainee thinker here is of an unthinking skeptic corrupted by Koch money before he struggled free of the Koch influence to gain insight and “sound alarm” (Gee, we need more alarm ‘cos that works so well doesn’t it). Cause and effect right?

    But I persisted and was rewarded by the ability to give up at his next paragraph which talk about “causes” because it delightfully showed the fully formed (possibly self deluded) pseud hypocrite at work.

  76. If Mr. Wyckoff lived and breathed Point 5, The ability to understand one’s own biases he would have rewritten the examples he used in Points 1 through 4.

    Here is a hint. Point 5 goes first. Without the ability to understand one’s own biases and the recognition that it is most difficult to be self-aware of the magnitude of one’s own biases, none of the other points matter.

    Point 4 should be rewritten altogether. Wyckoff sets up a false dichotomy by with the pegorative terms “fox” and “hedgehog”, themselves loaded with bias. It is a false dichotomy because we do not live in a binary world.

    Not only is the world not a binary black and white, nor even shades of gray, but one of color, saturation, lightness, luster and sparkle.

    Critical thinking is imporant. So Doctor, heal thy self.

    • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

      Excellent post.

      • Tony,

        I think Anthony is putting the effect before the cause in his post about me. I was not criticizing him on other blogs prior to him suddenly requesting that I “man up” and start using my real name etc. This was about the time of Peter Gleick scandal, and he was somehow equating my use of a “fake name” on his blog to what Peter Gleick had done. Absurd and insulting comparison! I, by the way, said repeatedly I’d be happy to use my real name if it was a requirement of everyone on the blog. I’ve got nothing to hide what so ever. I, by the way, (and let’s see how Anthony responds to this) was the one who, on my own initiative, had arranged for a special meeting at NCAR between Anthony and Dr. Trenberth. I’d never met, and have no relationship to Dr. Trenberth, but I pursuaded him to meet face to face with Anthony and any other people who wanted to travel to Boulder Colorado. Dr. Trenberth was to do a talk about Climate models, and even do tour of the climate model computer center, etc. It took me weeks to arrange for this and I even offered to pick up Anthony and anyone else at Denver International Airport and drive them to Boulder. Dr. Trenberth as on board, NCAR was on board, and at the last minute, Anthony pulled out. Now, really, if I had something to hide or was a coward or other such nonsense as Anthony has referred to me as, would I have offered to be so public, driving people to NCAR, etc?

        You see Tony, I am a reasonable person (as you’ve pointed out, thank you), far from a coward (I won’t go into my military service), who simply wanted to be treated fairly by Anthony. As it turned out, no longer wasting my time with WUWT is about the best thing I did. I’ve got no beef with Anthony on a personal level, though I think it was foolish of him to react emotionally to the pending Muller editorial and release his draft paper permaturely the way he did. And if and when the actual (and I suspect highly revised) paper is released, you can, and should expect of full and rather healthy critque of it by myself and many others.

      • R gates

        I welcome people from both sides of the climate debate otherwise sites can become an echo chamber for the particular belief system of its readers-skeptical science and RC are good examples

        I think WUWT benefits from people such as you, Joel shore and Scott mandia so i thought I would ask the question as to whether or not you were banned. I have always found you, Joel and Scott perfectly reasonable although things can get heated.

        pseudonyms seem de rigeur on most climate blogs-the daft and inventive names here on climate etc bear witness to that, pesonally I have no problem with it. I would prefer real names to be used but i recognise that is not always possible.
        At the moment Eric grimsrud is being given a hard time at WUWT although he partly brings it on himself.

        its a shame you won’t be backto WUWT but no doubt we will continue to cross swords-in a civil manner- on Climate etc.
        All the best
        tonyb

      • tony -

        I have always found you to be fair willing to exchange views in good faith, but your deference to Anthony does not reflect well on you.

        Anthony leveled a false charge against me on his blog. He then put my posts into automatic arbitration as soon as I tried to explain how his accusation was false. He didn’t allow the correction to pass through, and then called me a “coward,” even though he has never met me and knows absolutely nothing about me personally.

        I see no reason why you have an expectation that he have a rational explanation for his tribal behavior. He has provided much evidence that such an expectation is not realistic.

      • joshua

        Deference? I don’t think so. Polite-perhaps. I always think its bad manners to castigate your host, but that doesnt stop you from making reasoned criticism. For example I thought Anthony was much too quick in getting his paper out-presumably to spike Mullers guns.

        Anthony can be tribal and he can be somewhat irascible, but having said that he does get lots of hatred directed towards him so perhaps that is not surprising. .It was a shame the meeting with trenberth collapsed as that potentially was very interesting and it was my understanding that R Gates was instrumental in setting that up.

        Ive defended Joel and others over at WUWT and try to be reasonable with people like eric grimsrud who have had the courage to put their heads in the lions den, I do think is a shame there are few heavyweight warmists over at WUWT

        I dont know of the incident regardng yourself so can’t comment.
        all the best
        tonyb

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Joshua,

        Anthony seems to like to use that word “coward” and used it against me when I didn’t want to use my real name unless everyone on the blog was made to do so. He particularly seemed upset with my pointing out how wrong he and his regular poster Joe Bastardi were in their estimations of an eminent recovery of Arctic Sea ice. But regardless of his acumen related to the state of the Arctic, his use of the word “coward” toward me was especially small-minded of him, as he knows nothing about me nor my life experience other than bland general details which I shared privately with him when I was trying to arrange for his trip to meet with Dr. Trenberth, and which he then seems proud to spout off publicly. This might even be some privacy violation as he is the blog owner, but at the very least, is certainly quite unethical of him. Yes, Anthony, I am accusing you of being unethical in your choice to use private information about me, that I shared in privately and in good faith and in trust with you.

  77. If the essay by Professor Wyckoff is a representative example of critical thinking, as thought by the critical thinkers who are teaching our best and brightest to think critically as they pass through our institutions of higher learning, it makes a strong case for razing said institutions to the ground and salting the earth upon which they stood. With Cs 135.

  78. Since people are listing textbooks I will add mine to the pile:
    “Issue Analysis: An Introduction to Issue Trees and the Nature of Complex Reasoning.” Even simple human reasoning is far more complex than people realize.
    http://www.stemed.info/reports/Wojick_Issue_Analysis_txt.pdf

  79. Critical of critical thinking?

    Study A, sensitivity 5-9 based on past 19,000 years.

    Study B, Sensitivity 3 to 6 based on past 190,000 years

    Study C, Sensitivity 1 to 4 based on past 400,000 years

    Study D, Sensitivity 0.5 to 1.5 based on past 2,000,000 years.

    Critical thinker, “It’s worse than we thought!!”

    Analytically thinker, “Things have change or something is wrong.”

    Rational thinker, “Who is in charge of this cluster $&%*?”

  80. I change my mind, not very often. It’s hard to continually be a critical thinker. When, perhaps, the only source for my world view over the years is the mass media(blogs included), the odd book, my education (a lot of it seems to have changed now) and a little creative “what if” thinking.

    Politics. I gave up on my pre stamped self interested political views years ago when I realised it is biased. They all are. Makes it hard to vote for anyone.

    So, “BELIVE NOTHING, TRUST NOBODY” is a rule I try to follow. Ocasionally breaking it when something seems to have enough evidence in my mind to go for it.

    With that simple rule CO2 Climate theory seems to smell like a tramps pants. I like the theory of photosynthesis. It seems empirically solid.

    Economic crisis! We’re in it now. Why was it not predicted? Mass media!? I did a little google research (bias?) and found that some people did — a handful or less. Publicly and with data. Laughed at they were!! Publicly! Of course one has to be careful of “retro PR” as to who did foresee it. More questions about the stout few who foresaw it. We’re they just lucky and could they do it again? It’s complicate mathematics after all.

  81. Hi Bart,
    re yr comment 12/10 10.25am, Thx for the muse award, can’t make up me mind between Enterpe and Thalia.

    About yr comment that critical thinking as not the only valuable mode of thinking, I think that’s true. Poetry, real poetry, T S Eliot, Robert Frost et al, not my hurried blog posting, is highly compressed and connotative writing that seeks to create a ‘true’ representation of the some aspect of human experience or response to the world we live in
    .
    Bart, I don’t agree with yr comment though, that cadence, metre, rhyming patterns have nothing ter do with logic, precision or forethought. Poetry
    is highly ordered and selective writing, requiring all of the above, as the poet seeks to convey the thought and emotion of an experience by means of the language, imagery and other literary devices available and appropriate to THAT poem. Poetry is not about ornament and music for their own sake.

    Last stanzas of Eliot’s The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock.

    ‘Shall I part my hair behind? Do i dare to eat a peach?
    I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

    I do not think that they will sing to me. … …’

    It’s the middle of the night here, Bart, lol, I’m turning night into day,
    hafta go ter bed.

    • Beth

      Oh my, how embarrassing. I’m flustered.

      I, uh.. erm.. Well, I’m glad you, uh, felt ahh. Mrm. See.. it’s about the muse award.

      See, that’d be in the sense of *cough* the uh, you see, the “Tenth Muse”. Which, by no means I’m suggesting might not be, y’know, uh, true of you, so far as I know.. but.. see.. it’s not what I meant. Erm. Exactly. Kinda, sorta, more uh.. in a different sense.

      How be I get more particular. Measurement, taxonomy, specifically belong to Urania. The Physical Sciences are her domain. Which would be the realm where Her inspiration in writing, and more narrowly critical writing and thence critical thinking would be paramount.

      You more like seem to substitute Her Sisters for Her, in Her own domain.

      I was admonishing that.

      But you still make valuable contributions.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Bart obeys the scatological imperative – for God’s sake don’t let him near a fan.

        More on poetic thinking which is to critical thinking as ballet is to jogging.

        ‘Further, poetic “thinking” is a “thinking” which goes on in a permanent state of suppressed audio-visual metaphor. In fact, half the problem of composing poetry is to do with the poet’s on-the-pulse sense of the inadequacy of spoken or written language as a vehicle for experience. Thus, for instance, a poet’s main critical question is rarely “Is it good?” but is usually some form of: How to get the words to “do” something they do not normally do? how do you get language to see, to hear, to taste and touch? such that the finished poem is a kind of tactical leap where one’s responsibilities in terms of representing the world are concerned. Does it say enough? Does it speak both to and for its reader? Do you “see” the world differently when you read it? Do you know what “seeing the world” actually is? The making of poetry, whether teachable or not, asks an engagement with these questions. You could not write unless these questions were vitally important.

        The practices just listed (there are more) can of course easily be made into theoretical questions, by which yet again the critic stands back and schematises an ideal “writing.” The poet’s job is to compose. It is to link up bits of the net, or to find the secret threads between appearances. To work out the reasons for this, however, is not the objective. The objective is that of any contemporary style of knowledge, namely it is do with putting things together afresh. Every member of the poetry class knows that these “questions” are experiential matters – obsessive matters – which bring into play the higgledy-piggledy array of thoughts, references, and memories which you deal with on a day-to-day basis. Writing, no matter how well-formed and no matter how self-consciously achieved in terms of genre, is still a sort of provisional strategy (just like a post-structuralist theorist says it is) amidst this flux. Likewise, though such an opinion may be shocking to some readers, the humanist model of reflection and reading has never really been an exact analogue of poetic experience: there has always been tension between the meditative and re-creative impulses of reading and the performative aspect of poetic language. A poem is something which always starts and stays in the here and now: poetry which emphasises its performative or lyric dimensions partly by-passes the evaluative, readerly concerns of the old-style critic.’

      • For the love of Wallace, if poetry also leads to slugfests, hope will drown the drain.

  82. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    A lesson in critical thinking:

    The young theorist Abraham Pais gave a presentation that was interrupted by Ehrenhaft, then pushing seventy and still championing the monopole cause. He approached the podium demanding to be heard, and was politely escorted out of the room.

    A young physicist named Herbert Goldstein was sitting next to his mentor, Arnold Siegert. “Pais’s theory is far crazier than Ehrenhaft’s,’” Goldstein said to Siegert. “Why do we call Pais a physicist and Ehrenhaft a nut?”

    Siegert thought a moment. “Because,” he said, “Ehrenhaft *believes* his theory.”

    ;)   :smile:   :grin:   :lol:   :!:

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse | October 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm |

      What a cute story!

      Moreso, because I’ve seen almost exactly the same scenario play more than once.

      Well, minus the escort out of the room part. That’s special.

  83. I’ve read Krugman and I’ve read Hayek. I know my politics affects my outlook on the world and decisions about the proper role of science in society/government, as well as proposed solutions to various problem, not just global warming. As far as I’m concerned, that is how it should be.

    • …sounds like the 5% solution. Congrats on admitting personal bias. That is no excuse to forsake the scientific method. The Charlatans really don’t care about how fair you want to be. They count on that!

      • THEY! could care less. They have HAARP mind control that will slowly make us love communism and love the collective farm.

      • Howard, I think I’ve heard your voice before… are you by chance from Maybury?

      • Kilroy, I’ve heard that name before … are you the much-travelled graffitiist who “was here” in so many theatres of war?

        The Kilroy-Silk I knew at LSE became even better known in the UK, perhaps you should modify your name – make it double-barrelled, as in “Shot-Gun”.

        (Silly mode is enabled.)

      • Wag – notice I didn’t mention the scientific method – that’s still solid as far as I’m concerned. And reading, listening to both sides is required if you really want to understand a given issue.

      • When does a fair hearing end and prosection of a fraud begin? Alarmists in academia enjoy lifetime tenure and continue to use public funds to support MBH98/99/08 (aka, the ‘hockey stick’ graph), despite the fact it has been proven to be scientific fraud.

      • Wag – first, we in the US need to oust the socialist party. Under them, the EPA has unilaterally made rulings against legal activities. While we need the EPA to police the environment for real threats, the current administration has let the EPA run wild and unabated.

  84. Although it appears that Wyckoff has allowed himself to be fooled by Mulller’s questionable Climate Conversion, his list is at an least important start, even if not all encompassing.

    We all tend to be prone to confirmation bias, but being aware of the tendency can help alleviate the worst results.

    I like the ability to think empirically, doubt the example (which is bogus); but rather than empirically, I would have said ‘pragmatically’ or ‘practically’. Lack of critical think pragmatically brings about what I call the “Public Health Fallacy” — an concept exemplified by the idea that if everyone lost just one pound, approx 250 million pounds total in America alone, it would eliminate the obesity problem and improve public health.

    I think there might be other important items added to the list:

    6. Know what you are reading — be able to identify and differentiate a) opinions, b) facts, c) political screeds, d) single-issue advocacy screeds, e) rumors, f) urban legends, g) professionally informed opinions (and to differentiate them from facts), h) facts isolated from their proper context…(this list goes on for some time, I have probably already bored everyone here…) Know that almost everything you read is a mixture of these things…and needs to be parsed properly.

    7. Know the difference between a ‘scientific finding’ and a long-term, well-established, frequently replicated scientific fact.

    8. Know how to fact check —- and have a really big mental bin for ‘we really don’t know’ — assertions are not true simply because they are asserted.

    9. Learn how to tell when an expert is simply talking around the fact that he doesn’t know.

    alas….this list can go on for a while….looking forward to other’s additions to the list.

    • Exactly. Understand that Upton Sinclair (the Jungle) was a communist. Know that Ralph Nadar (GM’s Corvair) was a communist. Understand the the governmental education complex is pro-socialist and anti-capitalism and that teachers many in the media would be the first to be sent to the farms if anything close to what they wish for actually came to be…

  85. It is never too late to give up our prejudices.

    - Henry David Thoreau

    Global warming is not a problem but fear of it is. Global warming alarmism and politics of fear give power to the wrong people: people who only wish to take power from the people.

  86. Attention Mosher & Muller…


    Multidecadal Solar-Terrestrial-Climate Relations

    Solar Cycle Length/Frequency, Northern Hemisphere Sea Surface Temperature (SST), Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temperature (SST), & 0.18 Degrees Celsius (°C) / Century:
    http://i46.tinypic.com/303ipeo.png

    Solar Cycle Frequency/Length, Antarctic Ice Specific Mass, & Terrestrial Geomagnetic Field Jerks:
    http://i49.tinypic.com/wwdwy8.png

    • This is a great example of big picture “thinking”

      • Flash this relentlessly on the monitors of all climate & solar scientists:
        =
        Multidecadal Solar-Terrestrial-Climate Waves …
        Solar Cycle Length/Frequency, Terrestrial Geomagnetic Field Jerks, Antarctic Ice Specific Mass, Northern Hemisphere Sea Surface Temperature (SST), Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temperature (SST), & 0.18 Degrees Celsius (°C) / Century:
        http://i48.tinypic.com/2v14sc5.gif
        =
        Their blurred vision must be snapped like a pretzel.

  87. In the minds of many, critical thinking may be somewhat similar to pornography: hard to define, but easy to recognize.

  88. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Critical Analysis  A good example is James Hansen’s interview last month with The Economist. Hansen presents an exemplary critical analysis … by Judith Curry’s standards. Good on `yah, James! ;)   :smile:   :grin:   :lol:   :!:

    Critical Analysis???? WUWT/Anthony Watts have just published the 19th in a series of WUWT articles criticising Stephan Lewandowsky.   :?:   :roll:   :?:   :roll:   :?:

    Of course, WUWT on occasion covers topic other than Stefan Lewandowsky. For example, this week’s WUWT feature article Claim: Five climate-forcing mechanisms govern 20,000 years of climate change describes a novel mechanism by which “retrograde tri-synodic Jupiter/Saturn cycles” govern the earth’s climate.

    Ay Carumba!   :?:   :roll:   :lol:   :roll:   :?:

    Aye, Climate Etc lassies and laddies … it’s plain that Lewandowsky’s correlation of climate change denialism with “eccentric” scientific theories has struck a mighty sensitive nerve at WUWT! ;)   :smile:   :grin:   :lol:   :!:

    • Fan

      That article is one of many, it is not the ‘feature’ article nor a ‘claim’..Also if you had read the opening comment Anthony said he dsagreed with much of it. The post is there to be discussed, dissected, refuted, agreed with according to how the readers perceive it. surely that is a worthy aim-not one to be ridiculed?
      tonyb

  89. The Force: [1]

    _ a.) Made elements
    _ b.) Birthed the world
    _ c.) Sustains our lives
    _ d.) Controls Earth’s climate
    _ e.) Extends ~100 AU beyond Earth
    _ f.) Produces 3C’s (Coincidence, Creativity and Critical Thinking) in mankind to ultimately defeat the deception of would be-tyrants:

    “Truth is victorious, never untruth”
    Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6; Qur’an 17.85
    Numerous verses of every other religion

    [1] “Neutron repulsion,” The APEIRON J. 19, 1234-150 (2012)
    http://redshift.vif.com/JournalFiles/V19NO2pdf/V19N2MAN.pdf

    - Oliver K. Manuel
    http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-1369

  90. In stark contrast to Judith’s operational philosophy, there is another, perhaps more widely representative Georgia School of critical climate thinking.

    • Utterbilge, the conflict between science and religion is utter nonsense.

      I was angry with dogmatic religionists, until I discovered their identical twins disguised as dogmatic consensus scientists.

      Now I see no conflict between science and religion, and I see no difference between reality, truth and God.

      I use RTG to represent reality, truth, God as the one indescribable, uncompromising foundation of both science and religion.

      Both teach that deceitful, selfish, would-be tyrants will lose in their battle to enslave mankind.

      http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-1369

  91. DocMartyn 12/10 @ 12.58pm:

    ‘Senses overtime’ means tripping ..oops! XTC from Swindon, UK were a new wave band that wrote and performed some wonderful music from 1977 to 2005, like ‘Towers of London’ and ‘Yacht Dance’ from their album ‘English Settlement.’ Dedicated musicians, drummer +1, lead singer Andy Partridge took valium for stage fright.

  92. These are well-thought out aspects of critical thinking and I agree with them as a first-order approximation. But they are not all there is to it and some applications are likely to be a challenge. One aspect of critical thinking that Gary Wycoff values is the ability to change your mind when circumstances change and so do I. But we must always be wary of simulated change of mind intended to gain some advantage. Like, for example, to get your work cited by IPCC AR5 that is coming up. The example Gary cites of Richard Müller brings this to mind. “I have great admiration for scholars like Richard Muller, the University of California physicist and global warming skeptic, whose work was heavily funded by the conservative Koch brothers. When new, more comprehensive data from his own research team provided convincing evidence of global temperature increases, Muller changed his mind, and later sounded the alarm about carbon dioxide emissions.” That great admiration sounds to me more like confirmation bias. I hate to say this, but Müller’s “conversion” sounds really fishy to me. I don’t think he actually analyzed the data, just pretended to do it and rubber-stamped previous warmist interpretations. I have quite a bit of knowledge about global temperature history and I assure you that BEST project results cannot be believed. His major omission is total disregard of satellite data, available since 1979. Using satellite data I demonstrated that there was no warming in the eighties and nineties, just alternation of warm El Nino and cool La Nina periods. Global mean temperature stayed the same from 1979 to 1987. All this is wiped out in official GISS and NOAA temperature graphs and so it is also in BEST charts that follow them. What we are given instead of a true temperature record is a phony “late twentieth century warming” in this time slot. It is not so easy to wipe out a twenty year temperature segment but they managed to do it. We know thar there were ENSO oscillations in the eighties and nineties that were interrupted by a giant super El Nino in 1998 followed by a step warming but there is no sign of either in his final graph. But it turns out that it is not that easy to get rid of these ENSO oscillations because they are also articulated in both GISTEMP and NCDC ground-based temperature curves. The real importance of knowing about the temperature of this period is that right in the middle of it, in 1988, Hansen stood up and announced that global warming has arrived. That was the beginning of the global warming movement and IPCC was established that same year. But 1988 was just the peak year of one of the El Nino peaks in that time slot. Temperature just went up and down in the eighties and nineties and produced five such peaks of which 1988 was just the middle one. You can see them all as big as life in UAH satellite data, RSS satellite data, GISTEMP temperature data, and NCDC temperature data. But BEST wipes them all out so as not to question Hansen’s claim to the senate that 1988 was 0.4 degrees Celsius higher than any other peak since 1880. In addition to this particular no-warming period another temperature standstill started with this century and is still going on but BEST does not show this one either. These two omissions are enough to cast doubt on the seriousness and integrity of their work. But it gets worse. They claim CO2 as a blanket cause of warming.We know that the twentieth century started with a cooling spurt that suddenly turned into warming about 1910. The warming continued until 1940 and then was cut off by severe World War Two cooling. There was no parallel increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide in 1910 which makes it quite impossible that this warming was caused by the greenhouse effect. That is true because the absorbance of carbon dioxide in the infrared is a property of the gas and cannot be changed. The only way you can start greenhouse warming is by putting more carbon dioxide in the air and we know for certain that this did not happen in 1910. Bjørn Lomborg attributes this warming to solar influences and I agree with him. This makes Müller just factually wrong when he wants to make this warming into greenhouse warming. Add this to his jiggling of the satellite era temps and you have a dishonest and incompetent job of global temperature analysis that cannot be relied upon. There is more but this is enough. I would like to see someone apply critical thinking to this story I just told because I really want to know if I missed or mis-stated something.

    • By wiping out the alternating of warm El Nino and cool La Nina periods during the eighties and nineties it looks like Müller has simply polished the handle of Mann’s hockey stick.

      • Wag, Muller didn’t wipe it out. He actually enhanced ENSO with the Tmin temperatures. In fact that little bucket or intake confusion seems to be the la nina of the 20th century.

      • I guess we need to devote more grant money to research the shape of Mann’s handle. At least there is just the one variable, CO2 to be concerned about or this sort of research will get really expensive. We should just keep looking into this forever; otherwise, it is just short term employment.

  93. David L. Hagen

    Feynman on critical thinking in science
    See: Feynman on Scientific Method

    Guess
    Compute the consequences of the guess
    Compare those computation results to nature/experiment

    If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong - no matter how beautiful the theory may appears, or who made the guess, what his name is or how smart he is.

    Impossible VS Unlikely
    It’s likely/unlikely rather then possible/impossible.
    Theories can never be proven right. They can only be proven wrong.
    Good theories are “temporarily right” because they have not yet to be proved wrong.
    Vague theories can neither be proved or disproved, hence on such theories, one cannot claim to have gained any knowledge from them.

    Per Feynman, is it possible for Anthropogenic Global warming to be disproved?
    Does the IPCC’s model predictions being > 2 sigma outside some long or short term temperature trends constitute “disproving” those climate models?
    OR is there too much physics or persistence missing in the models?

    Compare the very high Variability of 150-Month means: Model Values v. ARMA estimates.
    The Blackboard 12 October, 2a012 (15:52)

    Are the GCM’s just a “vague theory” from which “one cannot claim to have gained any knowledge”?

    How do we apply “critical thinking” to climate?

  94. Some may think that, as critical thinking was identified and popularized in the 1940′s, it didn’t exist before then.

    This is simply an error.

    In the English language, books as early as Reginal Scot’s The Discovery of Witchcraft followed rigidly the precepts we now define as critical writing. (Indeed, I recommend to David L. Hagen a thorough and painstaking read of this great work.)

    Some time after Scot’s book, a greater work, Isaac Newton’s Principia founded modern Science, by rigorous mathematical, rational and experimental method. Every great Scientist of today, of the past three centuries, has built the context of their work out of the base laid by Newton.

    Hypotheses non fingo, Newton’s sternest rebuke, is the context that frames Feynman’s Scientific Method. When Feynman said “Guess”, he meant something very specific, within the context of what he knew about Science, and something very unlike the casual modern meaning implied by some.

    Which is to say, as Newton did, “For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction.”

    • David L. Hagen

      Bart R
      See my post above Feynman on critical thinking in science
      Critical thinking includes evaluating ALL evidence. e.g.,
      Isaac Newton wrote:

      ‘This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. … This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called “Lord God” Παντοκράτωρ [Pantokratōr cf. 2 Corinthians 6:18], or “Universal Ruler”. … The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.’2

      The primary founder of the modern scientific method is commonly held to be:

      Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Lord Chancellor of England, is usually considered to be the man primarily responsible for the formulation and establishment of the so-called “scientific method” in science, stressing experimentation and induction from data rather than philosophical deduction in the tradition of Aristotle. Bacon’s writings are also credited with leading to the founding of the Royal Society of London.

      Sir Francis was a devout believer in the Bible. He wrote, “There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; first, the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures, which express His power.”

      • David L. Hagen | October 13, 2012 at 10:42 am |

        I see you skipped the required reading. Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft is not difficult to get through, for a man of your talent.

        Men of reason under the heel of a tyrant will often mouth infidelously dogma and cant to satisfy the marshal sovereign while facing the point of his lance. We’re not interested in Newton’s religion, but in his Science, which he makes clear manifestly is governed by Logic, not mere faith.

        I have no issue with devout belief, even honest devotion to old systems of myths and legends from a misogynistic, misanthropic, bloodthirsty pile of hypocrisy standing testimony to the petty greed and lust of the priesthood of olden days. I think it’s admirable to display loyalty blindly and without reflection to violently aggressive tyrannies and warlike ignorance. I just don’t think it belongs in a discussion of Science. Why do you persecute logicians so? Did a math teacher spare the rod when you were young, and spoil you for rationality?

        And let’s remind people, the Aristotelean tradition was what Halley and Newton rebelled against in Principia. Aristotle, who informed his readers that insects were four-legged creatures, and who subscribed wholly and uncritically to Plato’s Natural Philosophy, a work so riddled with error that no three sentences in a row out of it are made up entirely of true statements.

        It’s because of the harm done by dogmatic loyalty to Aristotle and Plato that the generations of Rennaisance Science had so much to unlearn and re-discover.

        Science truly advances one funeral at a time. We’d be better off if every book more than a generation since its publication date were interred with its author, to be recovered by archaeologists in some distant future to wonder at the mythology, and boggle that the human race survived such ignorance, as we do when we unearth the bones of Aztecs and Phoenicians.

      • > [O]ld systems of myths and legends from a misogynistic, misanthropic, bloodthirsty pile of hypocrisy [...]

        Don’t forget zombies.

      • David L. Hagen

        Bart R
        I agree with you on the change from belief in authority from Aristotle to the the scientific method under Francis Bacon, Galileo, Newton etc.
        Re: Discoverie of Witchcraft
        That is an interesting issue regarding critical thinking. Reginald Scott

        He set himself to prove that the belief in witchcraft and magic was rejected by reason and by religion, and that spiritualistic manifestations were willful impostures or illusions due to mental disturbance in the observers. His aim was to prevent the persecution of poor, aged, and simple persons, who were popularly credited with being witches.

        Yes, there are charlatans, and imaginations, as well as those who believed in what they practiced, and others who believed that that belief was not rational. However, logically, it cannot be proven that non-human intelligent beings do not exist. An objective open scientific observation would examine whether there is evidence to distinguish between purely natural causes, evidence for human causes, or evidence for non-human intelligent causes. Only a closed science presumes that non-natural influences do not or cannot exist, or cannot be studied.

        Re Newton’s “science, which he makes clear manifestly is governed by Logic, not mere faith.”
        If I understand correctly, it appears that you seem to believe that Newton’s faith was not based on logic or on objective evidence. While for non Judeo-Christian religions that may be the case, it appears that you have not studied either the objective or the logical basis for the faith of Newton or of other Christians.

        On logic, I just heard a seminar by the former atheist and Research Professor of Philosophy William Lane Craig. He studied at the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph.D. 1977), and the University of Munich (Germany) (D.Theol. 1984).
        e.g A brief intro on the Guard at the Tomb.
        William Craig Lane’s debates with atheists are posted.. For the science side, see Chemist Henry F. Schaefer III in Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? .

        Are these the issues you were trying to address?

      • Bart R
        PS Following up on your reference to Discoverie of Witchcraft, for critical thinking on witchcraft in the 20th century, you may find it interesting to cosider the evidence in Spirit of the Rainforest, A Yanomamo Shaman’s Story, by Mark Ritchie. Similarly, for a Hindu practioner in the Trinidad, see Death of a Guru, Rabi Maharaj.

      • willard (@nevaudit) | October 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

        *squint*

        Are you sure there were zombies in Feynman, Bacon, or Newton’s writings? Because I can’t find the reference.

      • Jesus, Bart R, I thought you knew that philosophers were fond of zombies.

      • willard (@nevaudit) | October 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm |

        Philosophers will drink anything. http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink624.html

      • willard (@nevaudit) | October 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm |

        I am forced to amend my earlier statement, in light of your citation.

        Philosophers will swallow anything.

      • David L. Hagen | October 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm |

        I’m deeply impressed that you looked into Scot and his book. I recommend reading it, as it exceeds the brief commentaries you cite in so many ways, and I think you would honestly enjoy it.

        Scot appears to have been a man of deep and abiding faith and perhaps the truest embodiment of the tenets of his religion I could cite, yet so possessed of love of reason and humility as to embrace pure truth above authority or dogma, cant or polemic, diatribe or threat of punishment, even where he was brought face-to-face with his own prejudices and overcame them by force of reason.

        I’m somewhat familiar with the works you reference, and can honestly doubt they are nearly in the same vein as the impression you have of Discoverie based on the reviews you’ve read.

      • David L. Hagen

        Bart R
        Recommend you consider how social / economic upheaval has been abused to focus public antipathy on a minority, regardless of the objective reality of their beliefs.

        It was the world’s first experience with currency debasement and hyperinflation. As people saw the value of their savings evaporate, society grew angry and demanded a scapegoat. Christians became that scapegoat, and Romans turned on them with incredible violence.

        This pattern – currency debasement leading to social upheaval and violence – would repeat many times over.

        In medieval Europe, the number of women on trial for witchcraft climbed in sync with the debasement of currency. In revolutionary France, the Reign of Terror that slaughtered 17,000 wealthy counterrevolutionaries aligns perfectly with the deterioration of the purchasing power of the assign at note.

        Today global alarmists castigate skeptics as “flat earth” believers etc. rather than address the problems with AGW theories and models.
        So too it is important to separate emotion and social stigma from objective evaluation of the evidence.
        Recommend philosopher William Lane Craig’s publications on the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection as a starting point for critical evaluation on “evidence” vs “belief”.

    • Newton was denounced by many of the scientists of his day for the occult nature of his gravity, which they termed action at a distance. General relativity says they were right.

      In any case scientific method and critical reasoning are two different things. CR occurs in all fields.

      • David Wojick | October 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm |

        And yet Einstein says of General Relativity that it is an extension of Newtonian Physics, and subtracts nothing from the work of Newton.

        CR is an aspirational exercise, where we apply self-criticism with the humility to recognize our own errors.

        Some philosophers expect us to swallow anything.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        And yet Newton was incomplete – as we know Einstein is and indeed most probably Darwin. There is no gravity signal. AGW is just downright pigheaded and wrong. Especially Le Pétomane – in all of his scatological and pointless peregrinations.

  95. Exact Critical Thinking eh?

    Thinking exactly and as critically as I am able, it seems that there are two possibilities to explain the so-called climate debate, which has been in a state of impasse for quite a while now.

    1) The political left, the world’s climate scientists, the UN, and all governments have conspired to present the false case that GH gases are likely to cause an unacceptable level of warming in coming decades, and centuries. Motivations would include: the justification of higher levels of taxation, the impediment of world capitalism, the ushering in of world government, and, increased funding for climate researchers.

    2) Many on the right of the political spectrum have great difficulty with ‘tragedy of the commons’ type problems. They don’t sit at all well with their ideology. Their worldview does not easily allow them “to weigh the evidence in an evenhanded manner” Consequently, to avoid this discomfort, the temptation is to “ignore or dismiss information contrary to [their previous] views.”

    So, thinking critically, which is the more likely? World wide conspiracy or just another example of idiosyncratic human behaviour?

    • Temp, that is not critical thinking that is just a critic typing. Most don’t ignore or dismiss information, they “take it with a grain of salt.” Since the consensus formed, in the tech market, the housing market, the credit default swap market, the carbon trading market and the climate model market, grains of salt are worth more :)

    • It’s not worldwide… it is a phenomenon — a mass mass mania –of Western academia and those suffering from Hot World Syndrome. The conspiracy is among those who are knowingly perpetrating a hoax. It has happened before–e.g., the Piltdown Man Hoax. That many want to be fooled is The Cultural Hegemony of Climate Superstition

    • “2) Many on the right of the political spectrum have great difficulty with ‘tragedy of the commons’ type problems. ”

      Where is there any evidence that many on the left have less difficulty with ‘tragedy of the commons’ type problems?

      Have any actual knowledge regarding the USSR.
      Did follow, “Occupy Wall Street”
      USSR and Occupy Wall Street did not display any talent with dealing with
      ‘tragedy of the commons’ type problems.

      Yes, I understand that some equate higher tax burdens as equal to dealing with ‘tragedy of the commons’ or that only problem with public education is that that not enough dollars are spent on education. Or the economy could fixed if more debt is incurred by higher government spending.
      But actually none of these has to do with solving ‘tragedy of the commons’ type problems.

      • gbaike,

        Was the USSR left wing or socialist? Here is what George Orwell, who I believe is very popular in US right wing circles, said on that question:

        ” nothing has contributed so much to the corruption of the original idea of socialism as the belief that Russia is a socialist country and that every act of its rulers must be excused, if not imitated. And so for the last ten years, I have been convinced that the destruction of the Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of the socialist movement.”

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The last thing we are interested in is a revival of a movement that killed several hundred million people.

      • “Was the USSR left wing or socialist? Here is what George Orwell, who I believe is very popular in US right wing circles, said on that question:”

        I will grant that George Orwell may have a keen understanding of what socialism was.

        And USSR was a totalitarian hell hole- so generally most people who think socialism is swell idea, don’t generally don’t want a totalitarian hell hole.
        But IMO socialism does result in a totalitarian hell holes- all attempts have lend in that direction.

        It would seem to me as rather strange that Orwell would desire a socialist state, but in the above quote, he actually said a socialist movement. So it’s not as strange, but I need more context of when Orwell said this.

        But as I say Orwell seemed to me to have a very keen insight of what socialism was and the numerous pitfalls involved with it.

        Moving on to: “who I believe is very popular in US right wing circles”
        George Orwell was considered to have insight on Socialism [by anyone who had any brains] but he wasn’t someone liked by US right wing, in same kind of way the say Margaret Thatcher liked, he wasn’t seen as leader type of the Right- he was more of a leader type of the Left.
        Wiki, Orwell:
        “Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. ”
        And:
        “Nearly all creators of Utopia have resembled the man who has toothache, and therefore thinks happiness consists in not having toothache. They wanted to produce a perfect society by an endless continuation of something that had only been valuable because it was temporary. The wider course would be to say that there are certain lines along which humanity must move, the grand strategy is mapped out, but detailed prophecy is not our business. Whoever tries to imagine perfection simply reveals his own emptiness.”

        So this suggests that Orwell was interested in a broad direction and it’s reasonable to assume this broad direction could be under the banner of a socialist movement.
        And as for “US right wing circles”, not something they are keen on.
        Although, Neocons, may be more aligned in this kind of direction, but for them this direction is more outward or aligned to foreign policy. Rather US domestic issues.

        But just someone is lefty doesn’t mean they aren’t appreciated by the right.
        For example, Christopher Hitchen was “devout” atheist and a very much a Lefty- and was considered as important writer by the left and the right. It doesn’t mean the right agreed with him, but he was certainly worth debating and listening to. And btw, Hitchen was had high regard for Orwell.
        A comment about “Why Orwell Matters”, by Christopher Hitchen:
        “As for the penultimate chapter, I’d have to say that Hitchens did some cherry picking on the philosophic end. Orwell’s philosophic bent is very much like his political: somewhere straddling the middle-way. He was a humanist and an individualist. Existential philosophy and analytical philosophy probably go hand in hand with his final masterpiece “Nineteen Eighty Four” …

        Do we question an author’s deeper motives in the final years of his life or do we merely appreciate him? Do we, as so many do these days, equate biography with art? I say no. But, Hitchens offers us the best defense possible and the absolute assault on the idiots that use this author’s masterpiece to support their own ends. ”
        http://www.amazon.com/Why-Orwell-Matters-Christopher-Hitchens/product-reviews/0465030491?pageNumber=3

        Or I guess it all about critical thinking- both Orwell and Hitchen
        were pretty good at it- and whatever their political view, it was secondary.

      • gbaikie,

        Its both amusing and annoying that Orwell is so mis-used and misunderstood by the American right. Like when Newt Gringrich said : [The message of 1984 is] that centralized planning inherently leads to dictatorship, which is why having a secular socialist machine try to impose government-run health care in this country is such a significant step away from freedom and away from liberty, and towards a government-dominated society.

        Orwell was a member of the British Independent Labour Party which was well to the left of both the British Labour and Communist parties in Orwell’s time. They had MPs in the post war UK parliament who naturally voted for the introduction of the UK’s NHS

        Orwell’s opposition to the Communists was from the left, and was particularly motivated by the way he felt they betrayed the Spanish republicans during the civil war. He had to flee Spain, he had fought with the Trotskyite P.O.U.M., pursued not by Franco’s nationalists but the Spanish Communists. In Homage to Catalonia, published in 1938, he stated:

        “ . . . among the parties on the Government side the Communists stood not upon the extreme Left, but upon the extreme Right . . . In particular, the USSR is in alliance with France, a capitalist-imperialist country. The alliance is of little use to Russia unless French capitalism is strong, therefore Communist policy in France has got to be anti-revolutionary.”

      • “Its both amusing and annoying that Orwell is so mis-used and misunderstood by the American right. Like when Newt Gringrich said : [The message of 1984 is] that centralized planning inherently leads to dictatorship, which is why having a secular socialist machine try to impose government-run health care in this country is such a significant step away from freedom and away from liberty, and towards a government-dominated society.

        Orwell was a member of the British Independent Labour Party which was well to the left of both the British Labour and Communist parties in Orwell’s time. They had MPs in the post war UK parliament who naturally voted for the introduction of the UK’s NHS”

        But you seem to be assuming that had Orwell been a citizen of America in present time, he would favor Obamacare.
        I think this is not as clear you imagine- though it’s possible.

        Though Hitchen was in favor of an American universal health care:

        And he was supporter of George Bush and favored Obama [had expressed very high hopes Obama could resolve the issues with Iran].
        Btw, this is a radio interview of Hitchen after getting his American citizenship [nothing about healthcare, btw]
        http://www.npr.org/blogs/talk/2008/08/this_hitchens_moment.html

        I think it’s quite different thing to have universal health care in the UK as compared to the US. And I disagree that healthcare is a right- meaning there something in the federal government constitution which makes it something which the federal government should have overriding or supreme authority.

        And one can compare the EU with the US Federal government.
        I don’t think UK citizens want EU managing their Health care.
        Whereas Republican have no problem with individual US States managing their Healthcare- as with the State of Massachusetts.
        And I don’t think socialist such as Hitchen or Orwell are against people having more local control of their government. And neither are fans of totalitarian States.

        And finally, I think Orwell did pretty good job seeing UK’s fate, but fortunately the UK had unexpected influences, and one being the US.

      • What would Marx say… would he anti-communist? Do you really believe France is the most enlightened nation to have emerged throughout the history of Western civilization?

      • gbaikie: Why is it so tempting to say

        Eli knews Eric Blair (well he read him), and let me tell you Christopher Hitchens is no Eric Blair.

        Frankly you are full of it. Orwell was anti-Soviet, but socialist throughout his life. This reminds the Rabett of your ilks trying to use Martin King as a bludgeon against affirmative action. Face the right hated the guy when he was alive and dead except when convenient. That kind of nonsense is why no one will even attempt to deal with you clowns. Own your own.

      • “Eli knews Eric Blair (well he read him), and let me tell you Christopher Hitchens is no Eric Blair.

        Frankly you are full of it. Orwell was anti-Soviet, but socialist throughout his life.”

        As was Christopher Hitchens.
        As were many socialists who weren’t the useful idiots. Unfortunately there was a lot useful idiots [[and species is not extinct]] and other agents working for Soviets.
        As far Christopher Hitchens not being Orwell- my point of putting together, was they were two well known Lefties- And Hitchens seemed to think highly of Orwell- and wrote a book about him.

        But I am interested in why you say Hitchens is so dissimilar to Orwell and who in your opinion is someone more recent and more similar to him?

        And btw, let’s widen the field to include more than just the Rabett.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Feels like groundhog day again.

      There is no climate science debate – almost all climate scientists recognise complexity in both the dictionary sense and in the sense of complexity theory.

      It seems likely that the planet is not warming for a decade or three more.

      The tragedy of the commons is a discredited theory – it presumes immoral or poorly informed actors. In reality that has never been the case.

      Indeed the bottom up polycentric response to common pool resources is a far better approach – http://www.cccep.ac.uk/Publications/Working-papers/Abstracts/50-59/climate-change-tragedy-commons.aspx – especially given the best tools for sequestration involve agricultural lands.

      It mostly seems just a groupthink psychopathology of the pissant progressive.

      • The tragedy of the commons is a discredited theory – it presumes immoral or poorly informed actors. In reality that has never been the case.

        Discredited by whom? What about the extermination of the passenger pigeon? Why were they hunted to extinction? Where’s the sense in that? Why have the fisheries on the Canadian Grand Banks been so overfished that stocks have collapsed? The fisherman themselves would have known what was happening but they were also aware that someone else would scoop up the last of the stocks if they didn’t.

        With climate its often argued that those who act to limit emissions will be placing themselves at a disadvantage to those who don’t. That’s the same process at work.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘”To judge from the critical literature, the weightiest mistake in my synthesizing paper was the omission of the modifying adjective ‘unmanaged.’ In correcting this omission, one can generalize the practical conclusion in this way: A ‘managed commons’ describes either socialism or the privatism of free enterprise. Either one may work; either one may fail: ‘The devil is in the details.’” Hardin

        The omission makes the concept pointless rhetoric – especially on your part. The solution is neither socialism or privatisation – but the new/old concepts of bottom up management of common pool resources. Did you even look at the link to the LSE. You don’t seem to want balance or subtlety just some odd notion of a socialist utopia. I don’t understand how you think – and I am not sure I want to try.

      • The full Hardin quote:

        “A ‘managed commons’ describes either socialism or the privatism of free enterprise. Either one may work; either one may fail: ‘The devil is in the details.’ But with an unmanaged commons, you can forget about the devil: As overuse of resources reduces carrying capacity, ruin is inevitable.

        The atmosphere in terms of carbon emissions is an unmanaged commons.

        The LSE link you posted is a red herring. It doesn’t remotely support your claim that “tragedy of the commons is a discredited theory”.

        The LSE link is proposing solutions like this:

        Cities for Climate Protection programme expects those joining it to develop a local action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to undertake measures to reduce emissions from municipal building stock and vehicle fleets, to undertake public awareness campaigns on climate change, and to join procurement initiatives that seek to create demand for climate friendly products and services. Those joining are also expected to link with developing country and emerging economy country local governments to foster technological and financial transfer.

        That kind of voluntary stuff is a non-solution. It’s people trying to solve the problem in a way that won’t actually solve the problem. Why?

        Because there are enough people out there very keen on their own self interest who will never sign up (or worse will sign up but plan to do nothing) to such voluntary schemes.

        Which comes to your argument against tragedy of the commons. You said it: presumes immoral or poorly informed actors. In reality that has never been the case.

        Actually it presumes self-interested actors, but it doesn’t say anything directly about morality, unless you want to think of self-interest as selfish as immoral. Nor do the self-interested actors have to be poorly informed (but it helps). Fully informed actors can knowingly deplete a commons if their self-interest is greater than their sense of common interest.

        If the tragedy is defined as rising CO2 level then tragedy of the commons fits the atmosphere and carbon emissions like a glove. No-one wants atmospheric CO2 to rise so high so fast (excepting certain trolls). Yet it does because worldwide self-interests are higher than the willingness to prevent it.

        The only realistic actionable solution available to man is to manage the resource. That means carbon taxes, carbon markets, or direct caps on fossil fuel mining itself.

        Other solutions (eg hoping fusion comes along in time, hoping that nothing bad happens) are a kind of sick admission that humans cannot manage their own destiny but must rely on luck, little different than a rapidly growing bacterial colony hoping it won’t run out of food.

      • Bring back the Dodo!

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘In situations of declining or depleted fish stocks, fishers seem to have fallen prey to the “tragedy of the commons”. This occurs because fishers face the dilemma that, although they understand that limiting their catches could pay off in the form of sustainable future catches, they can never be sure that the catch which they have just sacrificed will not be immediately snapped up by competing fishers. Standard economic theory predicts that, in such dilemmas, individuals are not willing to cooperate and sacrifice catches in the short term, and that, consequently, the resource is overharvested. However, over past decades, a multitude of research endeavours have shown that humans often achieve outcomes that are “better than rational” by building conditions where reciprocity, reputation, and trust help to overcome the temptations of short-term self-interest (Kraak, 2011).’ (Overcoming the “tragedy of the commons” in fishery management – Sarah B. M. Kraak)

        We know that there are better ways of managing common pool resources through informed decision making and co-operation. These are the ways to effectively manage commons – the link to the commons of Kitafugi shown that these are traditional ways of managing commons. You assume that self interest is the only motivation of people. This is where the common of tragedy of the commons is utterly discredited – people and societies are far from that simple.

        Unless there are technological solutions at reasonable cost – no substitution is possible without immense human suffering – and people will choose life over the alternative every time. But it focuses on one approach – that of limiting energy. It reality there are numerous approaches and many points at which intervention in the carbon cycle is possible. http://thebreakthrough.org/archive/climate_pragmatism_innovation

        Conservation farming is the cheapest and simplest intervention – able to take 500 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere as well as increasing food productivity by to 70% needed by 2050. Almost twice the total human emissions to date.

  96. Chief Hydrologist

    The Scatological Spice drains everything of reason and meaning and leaves it dripping with ordure.

    What is otherwise known as Newton’s fourth rule for natural philosophy -

    ‘In experimental philosophy, propositions gathered from phenomena by induction should be considered either exactly or very nearly true notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses, until yet other phenomena make such propositions either more exact or liable to exceptions. This rule should be followed so that arguments based on induction be not be nullified by hypotheses.’

    Is really just sticking close to the data. The three bastions of the scientific method are hypothesis, analysis and snythesis. Of the three – synthesis may be entirely incorrect if just one link in the chain is weak or a critical link is poorly understood – an occult hypothesis creating a fatal weakness. In climate science the missing link in the modern times is clouds. In the paleoclimatic record – it is almost everything including clouds, snow and ice. These three missing things being the biggest source of climate change. Something that is demonstrated in the modern era in the observational and satellite records.

    http://s1114.photobucket.com/albums/k538/Chief_Hydrologist/?action=view&current=Clementetal2009.png

    There is very little to suggest that Scatological Spice can process anomalous (to the groupthink memes that is) information at all – or indeed any of the other fellow travellers. Leaving the cult of AGW groupthink space cadets floundering in a psychic loop.

    • Say Chief, There was a little event down your way around 1450 or so which seems to have left a 20 plus kilometer depression in about 100 meters of water, called Mahuika. I believe it cause a ~130 meter high Tsunami. Would that be natural variability?

  97. The ability to think empirically, not theoretically.

    Pual, you have not followed what you preach.

    Here is the comparison between the empirical observation and theoretical IPCC projections.

    http://bit.ly/SPzOHn

    Where is the critical thinking here?

    • Girma | October 13, 2012 at 12:19 am |

      There is no evidence of critical thinking in your link, or in your comment.

      You’ve always failed on the requirements of rigor, logic, self-reflection, parsimony, simplicity, apprehension of technique, completeness, even-handedness, honesty and integrity required for critical composition, but when you’ve promised time and again to correct your errors and always backslide to this state, why do you believe anyone will take you seriously?

      This self-delusion of yours does no one any good. It’s not even useful anymore for propaganda purposes, lacking the merit even for that.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The rehearsed scatology of Bart serves no other other purpose but lies and deception. It is obvious to anyone reasonable person – and that let’s Bart off the hook – that the surface temperature has not continued to increase at 0.2 degrees C. The 0.2 degrees is in fact a most unreasonable estimate of warming from CO2 – which at most has been negligible in the satellite era and will continue so as the planet doesn’t warm for a decade or three more.

        A safe prediction is that the scatolological predilictions of Bart will continue to increase in intensity as the madness overwhelms what little remains of his wit and reason.

      • Chief Scatologist | October 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm |

        So, you agree the GMT did increase at 0.2 degrees C, then?

        It couldn’t very well continue to increase at that rate if it hadn’t hit it, no?

        And this satellite error you speak of, you may wish to watch your spelling. Outside of Australia, it’s not a homonym for ‘era’.

        Also, these safe predictions you’re always making.. do you use a dowsing rod, or the zodiac, to form them?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Le Pétomane

        A safe prediction is that you will continue to spout BS at every opportunity.

        ‘The Ocean’s Influence on North American Drought’ – http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/oceananddrought.html

        A safe prediction is that you will continue to be dishonest and a fool.

      • Le pétomane has a nice ring to it.

      • willard (@nevaudit) | October 13, 2012 at 11:57 pm |

        Now _that_ is a scatological double entendre!

        Once upon a time, our poor Chief Battologist could hit such marks of wry humor almost on cue.

        Now, he appears to mainly copy and paste his previous posts. It’s doubtful he’s had a fresh thought this year.

  98. No Bart, I do not substitute her sisters of the muse for Science. Sorry *cough* that you think I do (i’m into irony.) But I do maintain that poetry is a mode of ordered thinking and a deep level response, an aesthetic process of communicating aspects of experience and the human condition and of ‘putting things together fresh.’ Using words as vehicles for non verbal experience, Bart, is high level communication. Not everyone ‘gets’ it. )

  99. WebHubTelescope

    Where is WebHubTelescope’s critical thinking when he call us deniers when he himself is a denier of the observation? => http://bit.ly/SPzOHn

  100. The history of the commons of Yamanaka of Iriai, demonstrates the logic of careful commons management by those who benefit. It’s worth watching the video.

    http://www.stmoroky.com/reviews/gallery/hokusai/fuji07.htm

  101. HADCRUT4 compared to HADCRUT3
    http://bit.ly/UTQJd0

    As expected the new version values are greater.

    All revisions always move in the same direction.

  102. The manner in which the AGW True Believer Westerners see the world through the lens of a human-induced global warming that must be stopped for the sake of the planet is like being for better lifetime health by halving longevity.The anti-capitalism movement of global warming alarmism is not for the status quo–they want change–and, they’re not for growth… except for growth in government. So… what’s left; outlawing moderninity?

  103. Muller was never, ever a skeptic.

  104. Manuel & Wagathon’s Wegman marathon begings to cloy :

    Climate Policy: Theological, Scientific, and Economic Considerations
    A Panel Presentation to the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change

    By E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.

    I’m grateful to James Taylor, Joe Bast, and the Heartland Institute for asking me to speak.

    My remarks today in part abridge, condense, and supplement what the Cornwall Alliance has said in a 76-page interdisciplinary research paper we published last December, A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science, and Economics of Global Warming, the product of nearly 30 leading evangelical theologians, scientists, and economists….
    So, after a very brief summary of our findings in A Renewed Call to Truth, I shall turn to a discussion that properly addresses the philosophy and even the theology of science.</i?

    • > Prudence

      A stealth advocate of the precautionary principle, no doubt.

    • Wow… a ‘Call to Truth’ instead of the call to fear preaching to the Leftist crowd of the AGW congregation.

      We shouldn’t trade what we know for what we don’t know.

      ~FBI Chaplain and Pastor Gino Geraci—Columbine, Ground Zero and Aurora first responder on handling concerns about the dramatic decline in morality

  105. It is certainly a challenge to instill critical thinking into the academic curriculum

    It flies in the face of Political Correctness, the new core value of academia.

  106. “1. The ability to think empirically, not theoretically. By this I mean the habit of constantly checking one’s views against evidence from the real world, and the courage to change positions if better explanations come along. ”

    The counter to this is the ability to think theoretically not empirically. While not much favored by stamp collectors such as Lamb or Gray, your lying eyes can deceive you, data you swear on your mother’s grave has descended from God can have serious problems and an over reliance on measurement can be misleading if you don’t have a theoretical framework in which to examine your results.

  107. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

  108. Over 400 replies!! Wow! Just too much to read. Few of those that I did read seem to add nothing, are some sort of on-going clique debate about Religion and the Right (endlessly), long hard to read paragraphs, or Trolling.

    Comments some places are an interesting addition and generally short and total less than 100. Over 400 raises my suspicions that something is going on?

    • 400 comments is about average for one of the threads here, comment #s have exceeded 2000 on some threads. What is going on is that a group of people have found this to be an interesting site for actual discussion. On any individual thread, 30% of the comments are typically made by about a dozen people.

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  110. Kepner, Charles Higgins, and Benjamin B Tregoe. The Rational Manager; a Systematic Approach to Problem Solving and Decision Making. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965.

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