Eikonal Blog


Denialism of science

  • Denialism (WikiPedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denialism
    • In human behavior, denialism is exhibited by individuals choosing to deny reality as a way to avoid dealing with an uncomfortable truth. … “[It] is the refusal to accept an empirically verifiable reality. It is an essentially irrational action that withholds validation of a historical experience or event”. … group denialism [is defined] as “when an entire segment of society, often struggling with the trauma of change, turns away from reality in favor of a more comfortable lie.”
    • In science, denialism has been defined as the rejection of basic concepts that are undisputed and well-supported parts of the scientific consensus on a topic in favor of ideas that are both radical and controversial. … It has been proposed that the various forms of denialism have the common feature of the rejection of overwhelming evidence and the generation of a controversy through attempts to deny that a consensus exists. … A common example is Young Earth creationism and its dispute with the evolutionary theory.


  • “How To Convince Conservative Christians That Global Warming Is Real” by Chris Mooney (Mother Jones; 2014.05.02) – http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/inquiring-minds-katharine-hayhoe-faith-climate
    • Millions of Americans are evangelical Christians. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe is persuading them that our planet is in peril.
    • “Years of Living Dangerously Premiere Full Episode” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brvhCnYvxQQ
  • “Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey” By Rik Myslewski (The Register; 2014.04.21) – http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/04/21/most_americans_doubt_big_bang_not_too_sure_about_evolution_climate_change_survey/
    • Science no match for religion, politics, business interests


  • “AP-GfK Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans” (AP-Gfk; 2014.04.21) – http://ap-gfkpoll.com/featured/findings-from-our-latest-poll-2
    • Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they express bigger doubts as concepts that scientists consider to be truths get further from our own experiences and the present time … Americans have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 billion years ago….
    • Just 4 percent doubt that smoking causes cancer, 6 percent question whether mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and 8 percent are skeptical there’s a genetic code inside our cells. More – 15 percent – have doubts about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines …
    • About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority – 51 percent – questions the Big Bang theory …
    • “Science ignorance is pervasive in our society, and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders are openly antagonistic to established facts,”…
    • The poll highlights “the iron triangle of science, religion and politics,” … And scientists know they’ve got the shakiest leg in the triangle….
    • To the public “most often values and beliefs trump science” when they conflict, … … Political values were closely tied to views on science in the poll, with Democrats more apt than Republicans to express confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change….
    • Religious values are similarly important… Confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change decline sharply as faith in a supreme being rises, according to the poll. Likewise, those who regularly attend religious services or are evangelical Christians express much greater doubts about scientific concepts they may see as contradictory to their faith … “When you are putting up facts against faith, facts can’t argue against faith,” … “It makes sense now that science would have made no headway because faith is untestable.” …
    • Beyond religious belief, views on science may be tied to what we see with our own eyes. The closer an issue is to our bodies and the less complicated, the easier it is for people to believe, …
    • Marsha Brooks, a 59-year-old nanny who lives in Washington, D.C., said she’s certain smoking causes cancer because she saw her mother, aunts and uncles, all smokers, die of cancer … But when it comes to the universe beginning with a Big Bang or the Earth being about 4.5 billion years old, she has doubts. …
    • Jorge Delarosa, a 39-year-old architect from Bridgewater, N.J., pointed to a warm 2012 without a winter and said, “I feel the change. There must be a reason.” But when it came to Earth’s beginnings 4.5 billion years ago, he has doubts simply because “I wasn’t there.”…
    • Experience and faith aren’t the only things affecting people’s views on science. … “the force of concerted campaigns to discredit scientific fact” as a more striking factor, citing significant interest groups – political, business and religious – campaigning against scientific truths on vaccines, climate change and evolution….
    • … sometimes science wins out even against well-financed and loud opposition, as with smoking. Widespread belief that smoking causes cancer “has come about because of very public, very focused public health campaigns,” … [also, what is very encouraging is] the public’s acceptance that mental illness is a brain disease, something few believed 25 years ago, before just such a campaign.
  • “Why climate deniers are winning: The twisted psychology that overwhelms scientific consensus” by Paul Rosenberg (The Salon; 2014.04.19) – http://www.salon.com/2014/04/19/why_climate_deniers_are_winning_the_twisted_psychology_that_overwhelms_scientific_consensus/
    • There’s a reason why overwhelming evidence hasn’t spurred public action against global warming
    • “The reason ‘consensus’ has not appeared to work in society at large to date isn’t because it’s ineffective – it’s because there is a well-funded counter-movement out there that takes every opportunity to mislead the public into thinking that there isn’t a consensus,”
  • “How politics makes us stupid” by Ezra Klein (Vox; 2014.04.06) – http://www.vox.com/2014/4/6/5556462/brain-dead-how-politics-makes-us-stupid

Older articles

  • “How Do You Get People to Give a Damn About Climate Change?” by Chris Mooney (Mother Jones; 2013.10.18) – http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/10/inquiring-minds-kahan-lewandowsky-communicate-climate
    • Experts have come a long way in figuring out which messages can successfully open minds and move public opinion. There’s just one problem: They disagree about whether the message everyone’s using actually works.
  • “Scientific uncertainty and climate change: Part I. Uncertainty and unabated emissions” by Stephan Lewandowsky, James S. Risbey, Michael Smithson, Ben R. Newell, John Hunter (Springer) – http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-014-1082-7
    • Uncertainty forms an integral part of climate science, and it is often used to argue against mitigative action. This article presents an analysis of uncertainty in climate sensitivity that is robust to a range of assumptions. We show that increasing uncertainty is necessarily associated with greater expected damages from warming, provided the function relating warming to damages is convex. This constraint is unaffected by subjective or cultural risk-perception factors, it is unlikely to be overcome by the discount rate, and it is independent of the presumed magnitude of climate sensitivity. The analysis also extends to “second-order” uncertainty; that is, situations in which experts disagree. Greater disagreement among experts increases the likelihood that the risk of exceeding a global temperature threshold is greater. Likewise, increasing uncertainty requires increasingly greater protective measures against sea level rise. This constraint derives directly from the statistical properties of extreme values. We conclude that any appeal to uncertainty compels a stronger, rather than weaker, concern about unabated warming than in the absence of uncertainty.
  • “Scientific uncertainty and climate change: Part II. Uncertainty and mitigation” by Stephan Lewandowsky, James S. Risbey, Michael Smithson, Ben R. Newell (Springer) – http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-014-1083-6
    • In public debate surrounding climate change, scientific uncertainty is often cited in connection with arguments against mitigative action. This article examines the role of uncertainty about future climate change in determining the likely success or failure of mitigative action. We show by Monte Carlo simulation that greater uncertainty translates into a greater likelihood that mitigation efforts will fail to limit global warming to a target (e.g., 2 °C). The effect of uncertainty can be reduced by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Taken together with the fact that greater uncertainty also increases the potential damages arising from unabated emissions (Lewandowsky et al. 2014), any appeal to uncertainty implies a stronger, rather than weaker, need to cut greenhouse gas emissions than in the absence of uncertainty.
  • “The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus in acceptance of science” by Stephan Lewandowsky, Gilles E. Gignac, Samuel Vaughan (Nature Climate Change 3, 399-404 (2013); doi:10.1038/nclimate1720; 2012.10.28) – http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n4/full/nclimate1720.html
    • Although most experts agree that CO2 emissions are causing anthropogenic global warming (AGW), public concern has been declining. One reason for this decline is the ‘manufacture of doubt’ by political and vested interests, which often challenge the existence of the scientific consensus. The role of perceived consensus in shaping public opinion is therefore of considerable interest: in particular, it is unknown whether consensus determines people’s beliefs causally. It is also unclear whether perception of consensus can override people’s ‘worldviews’, which are known to foster rejection of AGW. Study 1 shows that acceptance of several scientific propositions-from HIV/AIDS to AGW-is captured by a common factor that is correlated with another factor that captures perceived scientific consensus. Study 2 reveals a causal role of perceived consensus by showing that acceptance of AGW increases when consensus is highlighted. Consensus information also neutralizes the effect of worldview.



Antivaccination movement



Autism vs MMR vaccination – a nonexisting link



Quacks everywhere

Bruce Lipton

Dr. Joseph Mercola

  • “FDA Orders Dr. Joseph Mercola to Stop Illegal Claims” by Stephen Barrett, M.D. (at QuackWatch; 2012.02.01) – http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/mercola.html
  • “9 Reasons to Completely Ignore Joseph Mercola” by Joseph Albietz (Science-Based Medicine) – http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/9-reasons-to-completely-ignore-joseph-mercola-and-natural-news/
  • Postings on Dr Mercola at Science Blogs
  • “Dr. Oz defiantly embraces The Dark Side” – http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/01/dr_oz_finally_unequivocally_embraces_the.php
      As 2011 dawns, there is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Oz has now inevitably crossed the Woo-bicon, gone over to the Dark Side, betrayed the cause, gone woo, or whatever you want to call it. I say again: Stick a fork in him. He’s done, as far as science-based medicine goes. That’s because he featured one of the biggest promoters of quackery on the Internet on his show in one fawning segment after another. I’m referring, of course, to Dr. Joe Mercola, who was the main guest on The Dr. Oz Show yesterday in segments entitled The Alternative Health Controversy (part 1, part 2, part 3), coupled with another segment entitled The Surprising Supplement You Need. Let’s just say that Dr. Oz’s journey to the Dark Side is now complete. He has controlled his fear but released his woo, and it is strong woo indeed.

      To give you an idea of just how bad this is, take a look at the introduction to the show before the credits. Dr. Mercola is described as a “pioneer in alternative medicine” and “a man your doctor doesn’t want you to know.” I don’t know about you, but hearing that made me think instantly of Kevin Trudeau and his now-infamous book of quackery Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About.


Quack theories

Filed under: critical thinking, science, superstitions — Tags: , , — sandokan65 @ 13:23


Bertrand Russell

Filed under: atheism, critical thinking — Tags: , — sandokan65 @ 14:57


A Field Guide to Critical Thinking

Filed under: critical thinking — Tags: — sandokan65 @ 12:37

The Skeptical Inquirer has an archive version of their article from 1990: “A Field Guide to Critical Thinking” by James Lett (Volume 14.4, Fall 1990) – http://www.csicop.org/si/show/field_guide_to_critical_thinking/.

The following extract is taken from the Clipmarks site (http://clipmarks.com/clipmark/79A7D35D-875A-4739-8577-240C2A300117/):

A Field Guide to Critical Thinking

The six rules of evidential reasoning are my own distillation and simplification of the scientific method. To make it easier for students to remember these half-dozen guidelines, I’ve coined an acronym for them: Ignoring the vowels, the letters in the word “FiLCHeRS” stand for the rules of Falsifiability, Logic, Comprehensiveness, Honesty, Replicability, and Sufficiency. Apply these six rules to the evidence offered for any claim, I tell my students, and no one will ever be able to sneak up on you and steal your belief. You’ll be filch-proof.

  • 1) Falsifiability:
    It must be possible to conceive of evidence that would prove the claim false.
  • 2) Logic:
    Any argument offered as evidence in support of any claim must be sound.
  • 3) Comprehensiveness:
    The evidence offered in support of any claim must be exhaustive — that is all of the available evidence must be considered.
  • 4) Honesty:
    The evidence offered in support of any claim must be evaluated without self-deception.
  • 5) Replicability:
    If the evidence for any claim is based upon an experimental result, or if the evidence offered in support of any claim could logically be explained as coincidental, then it is necessary for the evidence to be repeated in subsequent experiments or trials.
  • 6) Sufficiency:
    The evidence offered in support of any claim must be adequate to establish the truth of that claim, with these stipulations:

    • 1. the burden of proof for any claim rests on the claimant,
    • 2. extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and
    • 3. evidence based upon authority and/or testimony is always inadequate for any paranormal claim


The 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time

Filed under: atheism, critical thinking — sandokan65 @ 20:31

The Brainz.org has an article titled “The 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time” – http://brainz.org/50-most-brilliant-atheists-all-time/.
According to them, following people were some kind of atheists (secularists, atheists, positivists, etc):

  • 1. Democritus – an ancient Greek philosopher
  • 2. Diagoras of Melos – 5th century b.c.e. poet and sophist from Melos known as Diagoras the Atheist.
  • 3. Epicurus – Born in 341 b.c.e. in Athens, Epicurus established the school of philosophy known as Epicureanism
  • 4. Theodorus the Atheist – lived around 300 b.c.e
  • 5. Andrew Carnegie [1835-1919]
  • 6. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov [1849-1936] – a Russian physiologist, psychologist and physician, won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1904 for research on the digestive system.
  • 7. Sigmund Freud (Sigismund Schlomo Freud) [1856-1939] – an Austrian psychiatrist founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology.
  • 8. Clarence Seward Darrow [1857-1938] – an American lawyer, a leading member of the ACLU and a notable defense attorney.
  • 9. Richard Georg Strauss [1864-1949] – a brilliant German composer who began writing music at the age of six and continued almost until his death.
  • 10. Bertrand Arthur William Russell [1872-1970], 3rd Earl of Russell – a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, pacifist and social activist, awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950.
  • 11. Jawaharlal Nehru [1889-1964] – Prime Minister of an India from 1947 to 1964.
  • 12. Linus Carl Pauling [1901-1994] – one of only 4 individuals ever to have won solo Nobel Prizes in separate and unrelated fields – for chemistry in 1954, and the Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless campaign against atmospheric nuclear bomb testing in 1962.
  • 13. Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac [1902-1984] – a British theoretical physicist who contributed to the early development of quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics [QED].
  • 14. Ayn Rand [1905-1982] – Best known for her sweeping intellectual masterpiece Atlas Shrugged, the fiction mystery allowed her to fully develop her philosophy of objectivism.
  • 15. Katherine Houghton Hepburn [1907-2003] – an acclaimed actress in film, television and stage for 73 years of her long life.
  • 16. Jacques Lucien Monod [1910-1976] – awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1965.
  • 17. Padma Vibhushan Subrahmanyan Chandresekhar [1910-1995] – Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for his important contributions to knowledge about the evolution of stars
  • 18. Alan Mathison Turing [1912-1954] – a mathematician, logician, computer scientist and cryptanalyst from England.
  • 19. Francis Harry Compton Crick [1916-2004] – best known as the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.
  • 20. Claude Elwood Shannon [1916-2001] – an electronic engineer and mathematician known as “the father of information theory.”
  • 21. Richard Phillips Feynman [1918-1988] – won the Nobel Prize in 1965 for QED
  • 22. Avram Noam Chomsky [b. 1928] – one of the most notable American philosophers of any age. Professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT, and is considered a father of modern linguistics. Also a prolific writer, he has also become famous for being an outspoken political dissident, anarchist, humanist freethinker and libertarian socialist.
  • 23. James Dewey Watson [b. 1928] received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1962 as co-discoverer along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins of the molecular structure of DNA.
  • 24. Peter Ware Higgs [b. 1929] – a theoretical physicist and emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
  • 25. Warren Edward Buffett [b. 1930] – an American businessman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
  • 26. John Rogers Searle [b. 1932] – an American philosopher whose contributions to the philosophy of mind, philosophy of language and social philosophy made him an influential member and spokesperson for the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley during the late 1960s and early ’70s.
  • 27. Steven Weinberg [b. 1933] – an American physicist best known for his work on unification of electromagnetism and the weak force, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 1979.
  • 28. Carl Edward Sagan [1934-1996] – an American astronomer, astrochemist, and successful popularizer of science.
  • 29. David Takayoshi Suzuki [b. 1936] – a Canadian zoologist, geneticist, science broadcaster and entironmental activist.
  • 30. George Denis Patrick Carlin [1937-2008] – one of the most popular and controversial comedians during his lifetime, having won five Grammy awards for his comedy albums.
  • 31. Bruce Jun Fan Lee [1940- 1973] – an American born Chinese martial artist, philosopher, instructor and actor, the founder of the Jeet Kune Do combat form.
  • 32. Leonard Susskind [b. 1940] – an American physicist specializing in string theory and quantum field theory.
  • 33. Stephen Jay Gould [1941-2002] – a paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science
  • 34. Clinton Richard Dawkins [b. 1941] – the most prominent scientific atheist in the world today
  • 35. Daniel Clement Dennett [b. 1942] – an American philosopher specializing in the philosophies of mind, science and biology.
  • 36. Stephen William Hawking [b. 1942] – the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge
  • 37. Sir Michael Philip “Mick” Jagger [b. 1943] – singer of Rolling Stones
  • 38. Richard Erskine Frere Leakey [b. 1944] – discovered Australopithecus boisei.
  • 39. David Jon Gilmour [b. 1946] – member of rock group Pink Floyd
  • 40. Brian Eno (Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno) [b. 1948] – an English musician, composer, record producer, music theorist and singer best known as the father of ambient music.
  • 41. David Sloan Wilson [b. 1949] – SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University in New York, a prolific popular science writer, and a promoter of evolution by group and multi-level selection.
  • 42. Stephen Gary “Woz” Wozniak [b. 1950] – founder of the Apple computer company with Steve Jobs.
  • 43. Douglas Noel Adams [1952-2001] – an English writer, dramatist and musician, best known for his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.
  • 44. Steven Arthur Pinker [b. 1954] – an experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist best known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.
  • 45. PZ (Paul Zachary) Myers [b. 1957] – an evolutionary developmental biologist and professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris
  • 46. Jodie Foster (Alicia Christian Foster) [b. 1962] – an American film actor
  • 47. Stephen Russell Davies [b. 1963] – a Welsh writer and producer of the modern version of the popular science fiction television series Doctor Who.
  • 48. David John Chalmers [b. 1966] – an Australian philosopher.
  • 49. Sean M. Carroll [b. 1966] – is a theoretical cosmologist at Caltech.
  • 50. Mark Elliot Zuckerberg [b. 1984] – founder of Facebook.


Critical thinking links

Filed under: critical thinking — Tags: , , — sandokan65 @ 14:19

2010.09.09: All content of this posting has been blended into the posting Atheism (https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/atheism/).

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