Climate change and wilful misunderstandings.

Retreating glacier.

People often have problems reasoning effectively. Everyone of us fails to understand or misinterpret information many times each week, month or year. But from personal experience I believe that there is no one area in which people so frequently commit so many logical fallacies and fail so spectacularly to apply their reason, and with such potentially catastrophic consequences, as in discussions about climate change.

Climate change is now scientific mainstream. Scientists from any discipline with any amount of credibility who still refuse to believe that the Earth’s temperature is increasing and humans are the cause of it are few and far between. The Earth’s temperature is increasing and there is only one explanation which succeeds over reasonable doubt (abductive reasoning would be very useful here. We should be able to apply inference to the best explanation and close the chapter). Continue reading “Climate change and wilful misunderstandings.”

No Flying Cars by 2010?!

There are some things everyone knows about the future: there will be flying cars, disease will be a thing of the past and there will be regular shuttles to Mars.  Unfortunately, in this context, “the future” isn’t well defined.  For many people living in the 1970’s, the year 2010 was “the future,” but for us, 2010 seems a lot more like “the present.”  So, frustratingly, having arrived at 2010, we still have to wait for a lunar vacation.

A recent article in Scientific American laments, “10 Science Letdowns of the New Millenium.”  Some disappointments are technological: there are no flying cars, no regular flights to Mars, and no sources of unlimited, cheap energy.  Others concern failures in research: there is no cure for cancer, no vaccine for aids, and the intricate workings of the brain still baffle our best scientists.  Still other failures Continue reading “No Flying Cars by 2010?!”

Is environmentalism a religion?

Every so often popular debate breaks out about whether belief in anthropogenic global warming is analogous to religious belief. These debates almost always turn into debates about whether environmentalism is a religion. Typically, one side maintains that the distinctive feature of religious belief is that it appeals to the supernatural, and so environmentalism isn’t a religion. The other side maintains that the distinctive feature of religious belief Continue reading “Is environmentalism a religion?”