I feel up to blogging for this morning, and during this day and the next I’ll be reading up on SF approaches to zero-point energy production for a friend of mine, which should be fun.
*waves at @Ravenpenny*
Especially important in looking into zero-point energy is avoiding any use of blatant pseudoscience from so called “free energy” machine sellers…
Rubber science is acceptable within the context of fiction, implausible technological quackery is NOT!
So far, I’ve got two reference pages out of five candidates in separate browser tags. The other three candidate pages are all crank sites, with obvious red flags. I won’t sully my reputation, such as that is as a relative no-name in the skeptical community, by using those last as sources.
This raises a question…
Out of the arguments of both proponents and critics of any claim, how do I decide which claimant is more credible?
There are a set of steps I use that make for a useful start of any inquiry, and I’ll put these into three groups of related questions:
- First: Which side in a given controversy, genuine or manufactroversy, commits the fewest logical fallacies? Which side has the most valid or cogent arguments and makes the fewest errors in reasoning? Once these are compared and an answer obtained, I then choose the side with the best arguments and go to step two. Remember though, to take care to see fallacious arguments that are actually there, and not the result of wishful seeing. And so…
- Secondly: Which side has the better factual support for their claims. Do their respective claims add up under adequate fact-checking using reliable sources? Do credible sources support or reject the claims made? Which sources have the better track-record and reputation as a valid and reliable? Next…
- Thirdly: Related to the second, but worth it’s own step: Which factual statements, when checked, even if and when true, are actually relevant to the claims and counterclaims made? Does the alleged factual support of a given claim actually have anything to do with it?
These three points are a basic rundown of the steps I use.
Answering these questions on science and science-relevant news are one reason I tend to support climate scientists over so-called climate sceptics, and professional biologists over the various species of creationists found online and in religion and politics.
They are the reason that I tend to give more credence to the statements of astronomers than I do astrologers, Physicists and psychologists more than psychic claimants, chemists over alchemists, and neuroscientists over phrenologists.
These questions are the reasons I don’t get my science from clergymen, religious apologists, allegedly fair and balanced media outlets, politicians or radio talk-show propagandists.
Those are not what I would call credible sources.
I get my science from scientists, and science-writers with a real background in the field, thank you, not preachers, partisan bloggers, or people who loudly decry government and taxation while also running for public office so they can get paid a rather handsome salary, with kickbacks and bribes paid by lobbyists, otherwise funded by my taxes.
- Top 10 Fallacies of Internet Trolls (americanlivewire.com)
- Conservative media’s attacks on climate science effectively erode viewers’ belief in scientists (rawstory.com)
- 2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #32A (skepticalscience.com)
- The Appeal to Authority (ethicalrealism.wordpress.com)
- The Prodigy Effect (ketyov.com)
- 5 Ways Right-Wing Media Make Their Fans Fear Science (alternet.org)
- Anti-science arguments: How do we respond? (newanthropocene.wordpress.com)
- Moving science communication beyond the standard argument (nrelscience.org)
I’m a naturally argumentative sort, not a thing to be proud of as I tend to get very emotional in face-to-face encounters — most unseemly for a skeptic — but I’m working on that, and I’ve learned to use the silent approach in some discussions, to verbally shun my opponent by saying nothing.
No response at all, this approach, not acknowledging their argument, and not even acknowledging their presence.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t do this as consistently as I’d like — For me, it’s a better way to handle potentially acrimonious debates with people I’d rather remain friends with — and it gets easier with practice.
And it works.
There’s even a study that shows it to be more effective for keeping one’s cool in a disagreeable situation with otherwise disagreeable people.
It’s good to have the science confirm what seemed already to be a good idea.
Responding to an argument with silence is not weakness, but good for resource conservation, and in many cases, much more effective.
So, yes, in many situations, silence must fall…
…and it shall.
As long as it doesn’t break up into a million and six pieces when it hits the floor, of course…
As many of you know, I’m, well, rather argumentative, and am learning to put that to better use than would otherwise be the case.
I’ve already completed my first argumentation course, and am learning more still of the subject matter and modes of reasoning, but often I’ve been almost pedantically serious about it, so just to keep from being a mean old curmudgeon, here’s a rather good skit from Monty Python, to mock it all, with a big hat-tip and a bow to Marianne Talbot of the University of Oxford.
Humor is something we all need, and something often all too lacking in the world. You’d be amazed at how close to reality this skit is, but doesn’t the best comedy often reflect how things actually are?
Uploaded by MontyPython on Nov 14, 2008
Monty Python’s Flying Circus