Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Inaugural Post

Hello, and welcome to the blog Commandeered Skepticism. This the first post out of (I hope) many, and the start of fruitful discussion about some of the most unfruitful (at best confusing and distorted) debates occuring right now, especially in the realm of environmental issues and, in particular, climate change. More generally, I hope that it is the start of a rewarding discussion about how debates like this are, and ought to be, handled and interpreted by all thinkers. (Non-thinkers are obviously unable to participate - but that isn't because this blog's rules say they are.)

This blog was created in response to a growing public fascination with skeptical thought, and especially its growing influence in lay and scientific discussions about climate change. Usually, it is invoked as a response to the mainstream view that global warming is happening and that it is human caused - but it is often misused and abused. Often, the skepticism is misplaced, misapplied, or is thought to be a stance that only a dissenter can take. For instance, when debating with someone over some of the scientific evidence in favour of anthropogenic global warming (AGW, or man-made global warming, in other words), I was accused of being a religious cultist who doesn't engage in any skeptical thought at all, simply because I said that the evidence was strong and that it counted in favour of AGW!

In fact, skeptics can take the prevalent view, and have taken it before (see proponents of that ever prevalent view: Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection). Skepticism isn't neccessarily the domain of the maverick, and it certainly isn't the domain of the bad reasoner who can't help but engage in fallacious thought. Yet, many in either group believe that skepticism is theirs, and theirs alone, to use at will and without the need for discipline that accompanies it. In other words, they have commandeered it.


theal2 said...

Best wishes on your new blog. I've enjoyed your posts on CTV/Politics for quite awhile.

Years ago when interviewing for a job at a local newspaper, the publisher and I engaged in discussions about local and state politics. For the life of me I can't remember what I actually said or answered, as I was just trying to be myself, personality-wise.

In any event, I remember vividly what he jokingly said as the discussion ended, "You're a genuine skeptic, I can see that."

To which I replied, "Thanks, I'll take that as a compliment."

"Good," he said, "you've got the job."


Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
theonlyTHam said...

I am not skeptical that the globe is warming up, the numbers are good enough for me on that issue.

I am skeptical that we are causing the warming; skeptical that we can stop the warming.

I am skeptical that we should try to stop the warming because I am skeptical that it's a "bad" thing.

I guess that means sign me up!

Marko said...

regardless of global warming being human induced or not, the fallout of the awareness of it is certainly making the world a better place in terms of responsibility towards wastefulness of resources and pollution.

Angela said...

Good look with your blog and congratulations on the fact that you are open to debates on the climate change matter. If you ask me, the global warming has alot to do with the oceanic activity. Here you can see info about past cenury's climate, which I think is essential for understanding the current climate and the global warming.

Again, succes with the blog and keep up the good work!

Justin said...


I'm not sure why you think that ocean activity explains warming. Ocean temperatures lag land temperatures; and at any rate part trends in one locale (like the Arctic) don't neccessarily tell us anything about what is causing what.

Oceans influence climate to a very great degree, but it isn't the only factor.

Anonymous said...

I am just a dumb guy trying to figure out if humans are really causing global warming ... or not ... how bad it may be, if so ... and what, if anything, I can do about it. As to the last part, it does not seem like much ... because if the warmers (for lack of a better name) are correct, society as a whole is going to have to change very radically ... and no amount of fancy light bulb buying or hybrid car driving will change the course. In all events, all the best.

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