Sixth Graders Debunk Global Warming

| 14 Comments

Last night (March 26), a friend in Longmont, Colorado, sent me an e-mail in which she told me of a science teacher who had run a debate on global warming – among sixth graders (see the story in the Longmont Times-Call at http://www.longmontfyi.com/Local-St[…]asp?ID=15357 ). I was in class all day today, but fortunately PZ Myers was on the job and posted 2 articles on the subject (“Another Bad Teacher,” http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/[…]_teacher.php , and a followup, “What’s the Matter with Colorado?” http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/[…]colorado.php ).

I will therefore just alert our readers to Mr. Myers’s essays and also add that the Times-Call today ran another article (“Debunking Darwin,” http://www.longmontfyi.com/Local-St[…]asp?ID=15426 ) to the effect that the teacher will retire at the end of the year to devote himself to writing and opposing “Darwinism.”

The teacher noted that the district “might breathe a sigh of relief when I’m gone.” So will I.

14 Comments

Broken record time: I can’t help but think that these people who all have problems with “Darwinism” know that they can’t find any problems with evolution.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/[…]eb514710.htm

“The very first evolutionist was not Charles Darwin… but Satan himself!” Evolution in its essence, is a satanic philosophy taught to America’s children in the guise of a worldview.

Hi Khan, Great quote: You’ve got to love the way that the nutters apparently claim that evolution is both satanic and atheistic. Supernatural and non-supernatural. No wonder ID/creationists can’t put together a coherent argument.

Is Poppe denying that global warming is occuring or that it is man-made?

It seems highly likely that the comments posted on the Pharyngula blog under Poppe’s name (such as proposing a classroom debate on whether blacks are subhuman) were in fact postd by a troll, as one commentator speculated. However, the quotations from Poppe in the LifeBridge Christian Church magazine are accurate, and show that he has been sneaking ID material into his science classes. So his early “retirement” might have been eased to school administrators who feared another Kitzmiller-type lawsuit. But there are plenty more Poppes out there, and only a few ever get called on teaching creationism in their classes.

That’s close enough to me to give me some serious heebie-jeebies.

I am the Longmont area friend referred to by Matt Young in his post above. I am also the parent of two successful students. Both have had excellent science teachers. Overall, I am very happy with the administration of the local school district, which has done much to improve the quality of math and science education and has recently raised graduation requirements for both.

The point I would like to see made is that there would have been no idealized circumstances under which the global warming “debate” at Trail Ridge Middle School in Longmont, as described in the Friday, March 23rd edition of the local paper could possibly have been an example of quality science education.

The false premise of the activity is the idea that one isolated fact can trump another isolated fact, in a “debate”, thereby diverting the student’s thought process away from actual scientific methods of evaluation. The activity does not enhance the students’ abilities in scientific inquiry and abstract reasoning.

This is exactly the technique used by “anti - Darwinists” when they attempt to engage and seemingly defeat reputable scientists in public confrontations staged as “debates” about the very complex, but generally accepted theory of evolution.

There is considerable general ignorance about what is or isn’t science, and many public discussions of “scientific” issues boil down to what one believes or doesn’t believe. Overall, the main problem to address in this district and elsewhere, is the dissemination of information as to what is science, how scientific investigations properly conducted, and how the scientific method can be best taught to students. Scientific inquiry rests on a foundation of well studied and testable knowledge. But most importantly, it is the uncertainties of science, the idea that there are always new discoveries to be made, that makes science a very exciting and intriguing occupation!

I watched this a few weeks ago on Channel Four:

http://www.channel4.com/science/mic[…]ogramme.html

Quite a few eminent scientists (including a former editor of New Scientist) were denying that global warming was a result of Human activities. There were some very convincing arguments and evidence to support the claims ! None of those featured were creationists, as far as I could tell.

I wasn’t able to watch the show on line, but I followed the arguments as presented on the website and didn’t see a single new argument that hasn’t been addressed in the last 3 years. This seems to be nothing other than a last-gasp compilation of all the arguments that the Global Warming Deniers have been using all along.

As an example, the argument that human CO2 is a small fraction of other natural sources has been largely debunked as deceptive spin. The point they don’t address is that the natural releases of carbon dioxide have always been there and always will be, but, we are adding billions of tons a year on top of the existing natural sources. In addition, some of the “natural” sources are actually a result of human farming, and are not as natural as the deniers would have you think.

This show didn’t provide any ground breaking new information that shoots down Global Warming, it’s just a tired rehash of the obscuring smog the (snake) Oil Companies have been spewing for some time now.

Peter Henderson — That show has been thoroughly debunked on at least three threads over on RealClimate.

Quite a few eminent scientists (including a former editor of New Scientist) were denying that global warming was a result of Human activities.

Any claim about “eminent scientists” is a transparent argument from authority.

There were some very convincing arguments and evidence to support the claims!

It’s easy to convince someone of what they already believe. Now, go read all the convincing arguments and evidence for what you don’t already believe – the ones generated by the community of climatologists, not “emininent scientists”, in peer-reviewed journals, not TV programs.

I’ll get in trouble for this, but sometimes the argument from authority is justifiable. How do most of us know that gravity follows an inverse-square law? We know because scientists describe experiments and measurements that they have carried out to justify the claim. Hardly any of us has first-hand knowledge of most of the things we claim to know.

The same is true of global warming or evolution or the connection between HIV and AIDS. We must accept the scientific consensus because, as Ms. Weis noted, otherwise we are merely trading factoids.

Now there are occasions when the skeptics turn out to be right. Are the global-warming deniers right? Until they develop their own research programs and supply more than factoids, I will assume not. The same is true of evolution deniers. Until they provide real evidence - attack the dragon head-on and stop nibbling at its tail - I will assume they have nothing to offer.

Posted by Matt Young on March 30, 2007 11:05 AM (e)

I’ll get in trouble for this, but sometimes the argument from authority is justifiable. How do most of us know that gravity follows an inverse-square law? We know because scientists describe experiments and measurements that they have carried out to justify the claim. Hardly any of us has first-hand knowledge of most of the things we claim to know

This is an example of equivocation whereby one definition of a word is substituted for another to give the impression that both definitions are the same. The word in this case is “Appeal to Authority”. Perhaps a misnomer, but this fallacy refers to an attempt to establish something as true and factual and use as a source a person who is an authority but not in the particular field. Hence, using Einstein as a source in Physics makes sense but not so much so if your topic is Marriage Counseling. The Pope may be an expert in Catholic theology regarding celibacy but he is not an expert in HIV transmission.

Britannica

http://www.philosophypages.com/lg/e06a.htm

agrees that an appeal to authority is an appeal to someone who is an authority in another field, but Wikipedia

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

does not. Wikipedia in fact says

The first form of the appeal to authority is when a person presenting a position on a subject mentions some authority who also holds that position, but who is not actually an authority in that area.… The second form, citing a person who actually is an authority in the relevant field, carries more weight in that the authority is more likely to be correct. However the possibility of a mistake remains.

My point, at any rate, is that we all appeal to authorities, and it is often the best we can do. But you have to choose your authorities carefully, and in science the best authority is usually the consensus of people in the appropriate field.

In previous threads here, the the fallacy has been referred to as “appeal to inappropriate authority” rather than just “appeal to authority”.

Henry

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on March 27, 2007 7:25 PM.

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