Carl Sagan’s “Baloney detection kit” is arguably more important now than ever. His 9 rules for critical thinking work for science and they can work to detect political baloney, too. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released a draft summary of a report to the UN. Unsurprisingly, the panel concluded both that the Earth’s warming is unequivocal but now expressed near certainty that human activity is the cause of the observed and predicted climate shifts. Given the near universality of scientific opinion on climate change, I’ve begun to wonder what motivates climate change deniers. After all, on most topics, reasonable people who are inexpert in a discipline look to the opinions of experts to gain a better understanding.