On Watts Up With That?, guest blogger Jim Steele reminds us that back in 1995 the late Carl Sagan, no extreme right-winger, wrote a book The Demon Haunted World that included a “Scientific Baloney Detection Kit”. It included rules like “Don’t attack the arguer, attack the argument” and “Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.” But that was then.
Steele’s list is as follows: “1. Do: Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view…. 2. Don’t: Avoid arguments from authority…. 3. Don’t: Don’t attack the arguer, attack the argument…. 4. Do: Spin more than one hypothesis…. 5. Don’t: Don’t get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours…. 6. Do: Ask whether a hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified…. 7. Don’t: Don’t argue via adverse consequences…. 8. Don’t: Don’t “appeal to ignorance”…. don’t claim that whatever has not been proved false then must be true…. 9. Don’t: Don’t confuse correlation with causation…. 10. Don’t: Don’t use straw man arguments — caricaturing a position to make it easier to attack…. 11. Don’t: Don’t just count the “hits” and forget the “misses” when evaluating a hypothesis….”
It might be harder to preen about radical measures to stop man-made global warming if we followed these rules. But if virtue-signaling isn’t the main point, perhaps we could revisit them.