Essay: On the Abandonment of Logic
Guest essay by Andi Cockroft
As I have outlined several times here, I am no scientist, despite having studied at University. But by far and away the vast quantity of learning has been obtained during life’s journey – both good and bad. All contribute to a depth of knowledge impossible to achieve through any 3 or 4 years of “Higher” education.
So what if I am not a qualified psychologist? How are psychologists qualified in any event?
Please then consider the arguments here rather than my lack of formal credentials – i.e. avoid Ad Hominem attacks and play the ball not the man. After all, at my time of life negative opinions of me are worth naught.
So why argue about the Abandonment of Logic?
I have met folks in my life who are seemingly exceptionally intelligent, yet believe in things I simply cannot comprehend. And I am not simply talking of Climate here, but, many aspects of modern living and knowledge.
It seems that in so many realms, Faith replaces Logic on so many levels.
In the beginning, and in so many cultures, the belief in some form of “supreme” being is fundamental. Be he the Christian and Judea God, the Muslim Allah, Viking Thor, Greek Zeus or any of the multiplicity of gods worshipped by races throughout the world such as the many gods of the Australian Aboriginals.
To this day, faith in Gods and Religion hold strong ties. Although some argue that the more liberal westernised societies are seeing a significant drop in spiritual feelings. Worship attendances are dropping for many, yet increasing for others.
But faith in some deity or other is only part of the changes taking place in western society. There is also an observable increase in the willingness of the same western societies to blindly follow argumentum ad verecundiam or the appeal to false authority.
One truly notable ruling authority of yesteryear was the Catholic Church. Galileo fell foul on suggesting the Sun was the centre of the Solar System, and the Earth revolved around it.
<blockquote>According to Wikipedia:
Galileo’s championing of heliocentrism and Copernicanism was controversial during his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system. He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism because of the absence of an observed stellar parallax. The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, which concluded that heliocentrism was “foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture.”</blockquote>
Galileo was tried by the Inquisition, found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, and forced to recant. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
Nowadays, I have friends, many friends, who obtained post-graduate qualifications later in life – so they did have some life experiences before returning to study. Yet even these folks seem unable to think freely for themselves and blindly accept pronouncements from persons of elevated authority without at least researching facts for themselves.
In New Zealand, we have an expression known as the post tortoise:-
<blockquote>”When you’re driving down a country road and you see a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s a post tortoise. You know he didn’t get up there by himself. He doesn’t belong there; you wonder who put him there; he can’t get anything done while he’s up there; and you just want to help the poor, dumb thing down”</blockquote>
I’m told the expression is used in many Countries but let’s say it’s Kiwi just for now!
In far too many areas of “Science” these days, we see “Post Tortoises” occupying senior posts, some even tenured, but one has to wonder how on earth they actually got there.
This is no name-and-shame game, but perhaps you can connect the dots from your sphere of knowledge.
Now I will return to Climate, but I do have many other areas of research that warrant equal attention and perhaps I’ll cover these later.
This graph was featured prominently in the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR)
Why I wonder do so many people (albeit a diminishing number) blindly trust the “authority” figures predicting doom and gloom. A scenario of predictions that to my knowledge have all failed to eventuate. The last I wrote about here was a prediction for sea-level in 2300 – as though anyone can challenge the result nor be around to see if it works out or not.
Now I have to admit that the first time I saw Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” presentation, I was shocked by what he had to say, his rhetoric and the graphics were extremely compelling.
However, it didn’t take long for me to begin the logical process and unwind thread by thread his arguments. I remembered the doom-and-gloom merchants of the 70’s foretelling of another ice-age. I remembered the freezing winters in England of the early 60’s. I remembered my father retelling of the summers he enjoyed during the 30’s. In all it just didn’t quite add up.
I remembered a wonderful History teacher I had in Jack Carlton who brought history to life for me and the rest of the class. In particular I remember the retelling of London Frost Fayres of the mini-ice age of the 17th and 18th centuries. Of how Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were to be seen being hauled along the frozen Thames.
Again from Wikipedia:
<blockquote> On the 20th of December, 1688 [misprint for 1683], a very violent frost began, which lasted to the 6th of February, in so great extremity, that the pools were frozen 18 inches thick at least, and the Thames was so frozen that a great street from the Temple to Southwark was built with shops, and all manner of things sold. Hackney coaches plied there as in the streets. There were also bull-baiting, and a great many shows and tricks to be seen. This day the frost broke up. In the morning I saw a coach and six horses driven from Whitehall almost to the bridge (London Bridge) yet by three o’clock that day, February the 6th, next to Southwark the ice was gone, so as boats did row to and fro, and the next day all the frost was gone. On Candlemas Day I went to Croydon market, and led my horse over the ice to the Horseferry from Westminster to Lambeth; as I came back I led him from Lambeth upon the middle of the Thames to Whitefriars’ stairs, and so led him up by them. And this day an ox was roasted whole, over against Whitehall. King Charles and the Queen ate part of it.</blockquote>
So simply from my schoolboy recollections, I began to smell a rat. Further research showed quite simply that since the 1850’s, temperatures had been slowly yet inexorably rising. As in any inexorable rise, on average, each year should statistically be hotter than the previous. Inevitably then coming out of a “mini-ice age” we will see record after record temperature recorded. QED.
That’s my logically thinking.
But things are never simple, and that should show a trend not a guarantee of increasing temperatures.
The last time I had my IQ measured, it came in quite high – but a good 20 percentage points down from my 20’s. This is not for personal aggrandisement but rather a simple statement of fact. For I see IQ measurements simply as demonstrating A can think faster than B. It does not give any indication of the way in which A “thinks” better than B.
I know of many with an IQ higher than mine, yet of low intellect. Likewise many with a lower IQ yet an intellect and clarity of thought that far surpasses mine.
A friend of mine beats me hands down at chess, bridge and even poker. His motor skills are superb so he also beats me at pool, snooker and billiards – to such an extent that it’s hard to understand how we remain friends. Yet he is regarded as educationally below-par.
So intellect to my mind is the greater thought process, although regrettably it seems we only have quantative measurements.
As Ozzy Osbourne was quoted as saying “Out of everything I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most!”. Perhaps that’s why my IQ has dropped 20 percentage points – Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll will do that to a person.
But is not rational thought an expression of intellect?
So why are so many of today’s “Top Minds” not thinking for themselves?
I have watched with abject horror the changes in the Education System over the decades. When I was a child of the ‘50’s we learned everything by rote. 9 x 1 = 9, 9 x 2 = 18, 9 x 3 = 27…… 9 x 9 = 81 etc.
It was my fortune to have at junior school, a Maths teacher who introduced a dartboard into the equation. Once we had completed our rote learning, it was time for some real-world mathematics. Someone would throw a dart, then teacher would point at some poor soul and say “add” or maybe “subtract” but worst of all would be “multiply” or “divide” – at which point a second dart was thrown – and so it went on – some poor soul having to do the sums after the second dart. I cannot remember anyone falling behind at their darts score though!
I wonder what todays “Liberal” educators would make of my old schoolmaster’s methods?
Then again, it also seems as though the idea that a child should be taught to think for themselves almost seems alien in today’s scholastic system. Is it any wonder then there are so many unwilling to challenge the authoritative “Consensus” pronouncements?
Over the years, I have also observed a major shift in the style, type and calibre of teachers and lecturers. My teachers were mostly elderly (yes I know I was just a child), but grey hair and arthritis figured large. I recollect at a time of searching for a University my then School Masters always say “Don’t worry, if you don’t make University you can always go to Teacher training College” – and so it was. Other than one chap who actually wanted to teach, it was those who failed to gain University places who ended up becoming Teachers.
With this emphasis (or lack of it) in England of the 60’s, is it any wonder the degradation in Educational Values was to accelerate? Just sayin from personal observation.
So again, now having said everything above, why are so many “supposedly” well educated people willing to accept the chicken-little type doomsayers foretelling all manner of catastrophe that will befall us all. From ice-age is coming through catastrophic global warming. From global pandemics to asteroid impacts. Even appealing to the biblical scholars end the “End of the World is Neigh” brigade. The willingness to accept anything that belittle us as a specie is astounding.
Carl Sagan during his final years warned of the dangers of what we now call “Fake News”. His reminder “Mistrust arguments from authority…. Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like everybody else”
Carl Sagan’s last interview with Charlie Rose is on YouTube:
As is his best seller “The Demon Haunted World – Science as a Candle in the Dark”
So it seems to be human nature that blinds us to “Real Science”, and the true scientific principle. How then do we persuade folks to simply demand that any doomsday claim is proven and not simply postulated?
Answer that my friends and you have the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”
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