Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Frank Van Dun 2 : Intro

Original post erased*

In communication via email, Professor Frank Van Dun claims the texts originally commented in this post & which were published on his website are nothing but drafts and "occasional material"

As I'm aware that a draft can be something to start a discussion, not conclude it; I do understand the viewpoint he expresses in his mails. In such case, indeed one doesn't want to be tackled for what's written in a draft.

Van Dun further on explains that he understands my viewpoint that in the internet-era, puting something on a website is considered making it free for commenting. Following this notion, FvD erased the texts from his webpage. As a result, i'm taking my comments offline too.


  1. Jules, nice post. Towards the end you write that 'simple' logics won't bring you far in "finding fallacies scientists aren't able to see." I think that is in general true, but on the other end, simple logic can help detect fallacies that so-called "skeptics" often use, eg “Since the sun has been responsible for climate changes in the past, it must now also be responsible" or “How can we possibly influence something so big and complex such as the earth’s climate?", or "we can't even predict the weather for next week!", or the it's-been-cooling-since-1998-cherry-pick.

    You don't have to know much about climate science to see that these arguments are logically flawed.

  2. Hi Bart,

    as i'm commenting on the subject 'climate' and not on 'philosophy of science', i had to make some generalizations. I am fully aware this leaves room for comments on what I wrote on the ‘philosophy’ part.

    I do agree with your words in a certain way, but not fully. Let me explain : sometimes you read texts making fallacies that indeed don't need a lot of knowledge on the subject to detect them. At least in theory.

    In reality, often you see it's only the people who DO have that knowledge are able to immediately see the fallacy, where the layman doesn't detect it. Even though he could.

    I have no good explanation for this. Maybe a broader understanding implies a 'deeper' understanding on the simple things whereas the layman gets overwhelmed ? Does this make any sense ?

  3. I think the truth lies somewhere in between. If logical reasoning will help or won't depends largely on the statement that is actually made.
    If someone says 'climate change is a lie because the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is so small it can impossibly affect our climate' and you don't have any further knowledge of the working of the climate, I think people may tend to accept this message because it sounds totally logic and acceptable that a small thing cannot have a great influence on something as universal as our climate.
    Bringing logical knowledge to the public without knowledge of the climate won't help here.
    On the other hand, you've got statements like "Acting to prevent climate change is not necessary cause the climate changes all the time and we cannot do anything to stop it'. This is more easy to counter with only the help of some logical reasoning because we all know preventing is always better than cure and we all are able to see that people have totally changed the planet. So it makes sense that we also changed the climate.

    What makes it even more complicated is the fact that most people who are educated, especially in science, also had a course of logical reasoning, making it much easier for them to recognise (not on purpase made) elenches.

  4. I think that's cowardly. If you put something online, you are publishing it in my opinion. Not in a magazine, but on the web and people can and will read it and possibly draw the wrong conclusions of it, that's actually even the reason that you put something on the web as far as I know... There's even a reason that was probably more interesting for him: everything you put on the web will escape control of authorities in any way possible...

    So if he doesn't want to be associated with the text because he's to ashamed which I can totally understand, then I have a good sulution for him ...

  5. As they would say in Australia, You Dun good, son.