Daily Archives: Tuesday, 15:53, June 14, 2011
Uploaded by melodysheep on Jun 13, 2011
Ali G raps about science. mp3: http://colorpulsemusic.com
Original video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB5VXJXxnNU
What is it all about
What is that all about
Is it good or is it whack
What is it all about
There’s a bloak from round my hood
Who reject everyfin to do with science
He just chill at home, smoke his own home grown
And check this – he don’t have a tele
He lives in a house though
And that house is a product of technology
No he aint got no technology in it
You can check out his website
Has computers made our lives better
Will computers ever be able to work out what
The answer’s yes
You don’t know what I was gonna say
10 10 10 10 10 10 10
Speak to the hand cause the face aint listenin yo
Information that we come across in the news has varying degrees of reliability, from the near-totally unreliable to the highly reliable, depending on the source and the content of what we hear and read.
Truth can come from almost any source, and it’s a good general rule to consider a claim or argument made in support of it on its own merits and usually not to reject or dismiss a claim solely on the basis of its source, though for myself, some sources have shown themselves so consistently unreliable, even willfully misleading, that I no longer refer to them even to refute their claims on this site.
Yes, they’re that untrustworthy, and some of these are not even considered credible by those other sources that promote similar sorts of claims.
There are a few things I look for when assessing the credibility of a particular argument or claim, and I look at them from the perspective of a student of argumentation, among them the language and style involved, which are not mere filler, window dressing that only serves to decorate the ‘meat’ of the claim, but in informal argumentation, an important part of the argument’s inherent content and meaning.
The most obvious sign to me that something in a spoken or written piece is amiss is the use of readily apparent loaded language slanted toward a particular view, even my own prejudices, though I find reading right-wing politics at once more annoying, and more educational and entertaining, than reading articles that already agree with my admittedly liberal views.
And the more extreme the views of the writer, the more loaded the language, which just screams out ‘bias and an obvious vested interest in advocating a certain ideological position independent of what’s likely to be true.’
Again, I look at this from the perspective of argumentation studies, not as a political buff, for truth to tell, I find most political subject matter boring, though I’m often forced to concern myself with such things during elections and important referendum votes.
Another thing, next on my list but more fun, is to examine the context and content of a piece for logical fallacies and unsound claims of fact…
How strong is the argument used for the claim? Is the reasoning sound? Is it valid, or does it merely restate a previous unsound argument that I’ve seen or heard elsewhere? If there do appear to be fallacies in the argument, are they really there to be seen, and if so, can I identify which fallacy is at play and why it is fallacious in this context?
This includes fallacious appeals to authority, quote-mining, made-up statistics and poorly sourced, even outright fabricated factual statements, fallacious ad hominem arguments (both positive & negative), and other invalid forms of reasoning.
It’s important to point out that though on this site I try to promote the value of science and reason, in fact, even because of that, I must point out that we humans are not an inherently rational species, though we are adept at rationalization, and sound reasoning is a valuable ability that can and should be learned for good, effective decision-making.
Even if we are not innately rational, we can, and I think should, learn to be rational.
On the sources used in a piece for its information, are they credible? If so, are they reliably so? What is the track-record of that reliability, how consistent is it? Even the best sources can sometimes be wrong, which is not an indication of fatal unreliability, just a reflection of the fact that we live in an imperfect, fallible world with imperfect, fallible people writing what we see and hear as news. But even some partisan sources can sometimes get things right, if not in the details of what they publish, then in the general claims.
I don’t like dismissing a source out of hand, though again, some have such a consistent track-record of incredulity that I find myself doing it on occasion.
Regardless, consider the validity of the source, and an individual piece that is poorly documented enough can sometimes be dismissed out of hand on the grounds of its own vacuity and bad or non-existent source-referencing.
On politically, religiously, or otherwise ideologically-charged topics, especially those promoted as controversial, ask yourself if there really is a controversy among qualified experts on the topic under discussion.
One thing I’ve noted about the politicization of topics like climate change, vaccine safety, and evolution, is that, for example, those arguing against them are rarely qualified climate researchers, or medical scientists, and no credible biologist claims that evolution is false.
Most of those who promote doubt concerning such topics tend to be not knowledgable people with the background and training to have a real basis for making the claims, but clergy, politicians, media pundits, celebrities, and lobbyists for business, religious, or political interests.
And if over 90% of all with the proper training and knowledge background consent that a given scientific topic, no matter how politicized it is by politicians, is worthy of confidence in its reality and our acting upon it, then it’s ludicrous to dismiss such a consensus as a sinister conspiracy or groupthink, or dismiss it on the claim that a consensus ‘isn’t science.’
A scientific consensus, when well-supported by multiple converging lines of evidence in different fields, is a recognition of reality using the best data to date, not a political vote, groupthink, or a popularity contest.
Just some things to consider…
These are a few things I use when assessing the news I read, and you may find them useful yourself, if you don’t already. and don’t forget the cardinal rule of skepticism: ALWAYS check the facts when sources are provided, and if not, remain skeptical.