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General Discussions => Skepticism / Science Talk => Topic started by: Quetzalcoatl on April 10, 2019, 02:10:35 PM

Title: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on April 10, 2019, 02:10:35 PM
Climate change deniers in particular, but also others, declare something "alarmist" and because "alarmism" is bad, it's justifiable to dismiss it because of that particular reason. For example, a new research report might arrive stating something potentially very dire about climate change if nothing is done. The climate change denier will then claim it is alarmist and therefore dismiss it.

As for why it is a fallacy, it is a fallacy because sometimes it is justified to be alarmed.

How would you classify this fallacy?
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: DanDanDan on April 10, 2019, 02:22:51 PM
Seems like a straight forward case of name calling, so ad hominum is my first guess.

Also, when asked for evidence of alarmism, folks will frequently turn to poisoning the well by saying "you raised a false alarm before, therefore you cry wolf." Doesn't matter if there are dead sheep everywhere and a pack of wolves chewing on bloody bones.

And that's where we are with climate change. We can literally see CO2 eating away the ice caps.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Ah.hell on April 10, 2019, 02:50:45 PM
Non Sequitur.  The claim my actually be alarmist but that has little bearing on the truth of the claim. 
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: daniel1948 on April 10, 2019, 09:35:14 PM
Non Sequitur.  The claim my actually be alarmist but that has little bearing on the truth of the claim. 

I agree with this: Non sequitur. Whether or not an assertion is alarmist has nothing to do with whether or not it's true.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Soldier of FORTRAN on April 10, 2019, 09:37:48 PM
Do biases group with fallacies?

(https://i.imgur.com/0of5q8Z.png)
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: superdave on April 11, 2019, 09:50:39 AM
It's sort of a strawman in that you are not arguing against the true claim, you are arguing against a version of the truth.  The environmentalists are warning about a danger coming soon but not are not saying that the apocalypse is coming tomorrow.    However, the specific logical fallacy depends on the nuance of the argument.  If they disagree with something merely because it is alarmist, that would be more of a poisoning the well.

Like antievolution stuff, the problem with fighting climate change denial is that it comes in so many flavors and levels that it's hard to defeat them all at once, and some seem more reasonable than others.  The most common thing I see is related to the "alarmist" argument.  A lot of right wingers are worried that preventive action to slow down or reverse climate change will wreck the economy.   This is not an unreasonable claim, and it is something that can be studied and examined for validity.  But when you combine that argument with climate change denial, it goes downhill fast.   If you don't believe climate change is real, then you are forced to interpret that proposed changes that environmentalists want to make as something other than a way to reduce climate change.  And this is where conspiracy theorists are more than happy to pick up the slack.  it's just a hop from there to the idea that scientists want a new world order where we are all socialists ruled by the academia class.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Will Nitschke on April 20, 2019, 06:03:12 AM
You'd have more success 'fighting climate change denial' if you dropped all the religious language and discussed evidence. You know, what I used to do with Young Earth Creationists who denied evolutionary theory back in the 1980's... I didn't call them stupid and other insults. I discussed the science with them. Try that next time.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Soldier of FORTRAN on April 20, 2019, 02:19:50 PM
Sample Evidence:  Major geographic changes have already begun. (https://e360.yale.edu/features/redrawing-the-map-how-the-worlds-climate-zones-are-shifting)
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Sawyer on April 20, 2019, 04:56:16 PM
Sample Evidence:  Major geographic changes have already begun. (https://e360.yale.edu/features/redrawing-the-map-how-the-worlds-climate-zones-are-shifting)

Oh sure, you can point to some ivory tower eggheads at Yale (Argument from Authority!) that insist it's getting warmer.  But why aren't you personally debating the evidence for climate change on these forums?  Where's your degree in climate science?  Why doesn't the SGU Forums have a personal climatologist that's willing to answer questions at all hours of the day on this matter?  If we really cared about facts, this would be a service that we'd provide. 

I mean, it's not like we *ever* had a working scientist posting in the Global Warming section.  And if we did, they totally *didn't* go out of their way to be patient and understanding in explaining some of the more arcane details of climatology, academia, and the history of climate change denial.  And if this hypothetical person did exist, the reason they stopped being friendly and welcoming *couldn't possibly* be because they were relentlessly besieged by a handful of trolls that had no interest in an honest, scientifically literate discussion of the facts about global warming.

Nope, we were all just a bunch of religious zealots, pushing an alarmist political agenda.  /s
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: John Albert on April 20, 2019, 05:54:38 PM
I think that characterizing a claim as "alarmist" is not necessarily a logical fallacy per se, but just a personal opinion. Just the same, the personal opinion of a non-expert is not an effective rebuttal against the scientific consensus. The responsibility is on the claimant to back their opinion up with some evidence and reasoning, so simply stating an amateur opinion without evidence ought to be pretty easy to smack down.

That said, you might want to start by looking at the specific statements they're characterizing as "alarmist." It is not untrue that some pundits have made statements about climate change which were exaggerated or ill-informed, and those might reasonably be characterized as alarmist.

But just because some people have said come crazy things on your side of the debate, that doesn't necessarily hurt your case so long as you acknowledge those opinions as invalid and stick to the well-established science. But if you choose to gloss over those outrageous claims or (even worse) try to defend them, then that opens you up to accusations of being a crazed alarmist yourself.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Will Nitschke on April 20, 2019, 08:24:48 PM
So now we have people on these forums trying to argue that discussing evidence using reason and logic is a waste of time, and non technical experts aren't qualified to do so. How pathetic the 'skeptical community' has become.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Soldier of FORTRAN on April 20, 2019, 08:45:03 PM
I think you like seeing inferiority in others and are willing to hallucinate to do it.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Tassie Dave on April 20, 2019, 09:49:30 PM
You'd have more success 'fighting climate change denial' if you dropped all the religious language and discussed evidence. You know, what I used to do with Young Earth Creationists who denied evolutionary theory back in the 1980's... I didn't call them stupid and other insults. I discussed the science with them. Try that next time.

I've tried that since the 70s and I will continue to do that, but most young Earth creationists are unflappable and their eyes glaze over when you use science. They usually have that smug, shit eating grin on their face, the one that says they know better than science.
I was brought up in a young earth creationist religion (Jehovah's Witness). They are taught how to argue against the science. At Primary School I was one of those little smug, shit eating grinners who denied the science using the bible as evidence.

Thankfully I got smart and grew out of it. Others don't
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Sawyer on April 21, 2019, 12:19:48 AM
So now we have people on these forums trying to argue that discussing evidence using reason and logic is a waste of time, and non technical experts aren't qualified to do so. How pathetic the 'skeptical community' has become.

If there are any relative newcomers to this thread (Quetz might fit the bill, I don't remember how recently he joined), I highly recommend* spending a few hours slogging through the old climate threads here to see this golden age of "discussing evidence using reason and logic" about global warming.  It's some of the best JAQing off and armchair skepticism I've ever seen on the internet.  Make sure you go back far enough to see what it was like *before* everyone had reached their wits' end with our resident climate deniers.  To Will's credit his posts were nowhere near as bad as FX's. 

Regardless, I'll stick with "know people's post history" as a useful skeptical tool when talking about climate change with strangers on the internet.  I've found it helps you avoid many of the headaches experience from getting bogged down in a technical discussion that ultimately leads nowhere.



*I've quit drinking, but hard liquor may be required for this task.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: daniel1948 on April 21, 2019, 10:55:09 AM
Hard-core religious fanatics have an easy out when science disagrees with their particular religious beliefs: God exists "outside" of the material world and science does not apply to him.

Climate-change deniers simply deny the evidence by quoting the lies of the fossil-fuel industry and the 0.1% of scientists who reject climate change or who argue that it's not caused by human activity. I sat next to a guy on the plane who owns one oil well. He adamantly asserted that he is a scientist and that the science says the climate is not changing. He simply claims that the evidence is on the side of no change.

Both of these groups are immune to science because they either reject the proposition that evidence matters, or they believe that the outlier is the "better" scientist than the majority. This is the "They laughed at Fulton" argument. If you want to see the futility of arguing science with committed "believers," check out the Flat-Earth Society chat board.

I had a room-mate at FPC Yankton who loved pointing out that Pepsi doesn't write a white paper explaining why Pepsi is better than Coke, they hire Michael Jackson to sing about it. (This was before he fell out of favor.) People's minds are changed by emotion, not by logic.

It's true that you're not going to win over religious idiots by calling them idiots. But you're also not going to win them over by presenting them with evidence. Science and evidence work with people who have not yet made up their minds and who have not been brainwashed by religion or powerful propagandists.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: superdave on April 22, 2019, 06:09:58 PM
FX was a text book example of how expertise in one field doesn't translate to expertise in anything else. 
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Sawyer on April 22, 2019, 09:51:42 PM
FX was a text book example of how expertise in one field doesn't translate to expertise in anything else.

Wait, FX was an expert in something?

(https://media.tenor.com/images/086549810e170bcbba237e81ec5901d1/tenor.gif)
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: superdave on April 23, 2019, 11:03:05 AM
he really knew signal processing!
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Gigabyte on April 24, 2019, 12:40:21 PM
So now we have people on these forums trying to argue that discussing evidence using reason and logic is a waste of time,
It is a waste of time, if it involves anything unscientific.  Even with hard science it can be a waste of time.  But anything remotely political it is a waste of time.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: John Albert on April 24, 2019, 01:57:57 PM
So now we have people on these forums trying to argue that discussing evidence using reason and logic is a waste of time,


It is a waste of time, if it involves anything unscientific.  Even with hard science it can be a waste of time.  But anything remotely political it is a waste of time.

This kind of illiberal view is an unfortunate consequence of the Internet.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Gigabyte on April 25, 2019, 03:37:23 AM
This kind of illiberal view is an unfortunate consequence of the Internet.
Recognizing that people are not swayed by logic, reason and facts was around long before the internet.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: superdave on April 25, 2019, 08:11:42 AM
what the heck are you people talking about?
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Billzbub on April 26, 2019, 04:15:54 PM
It's true that you're not going to win over religious idiots by calling them idiots. But you're also not going to win them over by presenting them with evidence. Science and evidence work with people who have not yet made up their minds and who have not been brainwashed by religion or powerful propagandists.

I suspect that this is true mostly because we define "religious zealots" as people who will not be swayed by evidence.  There are probably a bunch of people out there who believe one thing, but can be convinced by evidence, but we fall into the No True Scotsman trap of assuming they were not religious zealots to begin with, so it is still true that evidence does not affect religious zealots.

In conclusion, it is always worth discussing the evidence because you might be dealing with someone who could change their mind at some point, or you might have an audience with such people.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Oh Henry on May 01, 2019, 11:24:32 AM
Its interesting that the answer to the OP depends on what side your on.  Alarmist implies an exaggerated claim.  Climate deniers are not using the term to possibly concede the severity of the situation, they are using it to call the claimant a liar.  So, Ad hom.  But as someone who has studied climate change and understands the science, my internal monologue responds, "You're damned right I'm alarmist - we should all be alarmed." So, non-seq as well?

Anyways, my introduction to this board was reading a Will Nitschke post crowing that the National Academy of Sciences had endorsed an anti-Global Warming position. I pestered Will for a link and he berated me over several posts for drawing too fine a distinction between the official position of the NAS and a position endorsed by one of its individual members.  Good times. 

 
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Gigabyte on May 01, 2019, 01:09:43 PM
Its interesting that the answer to the OP depends on what side your on. 
That there are "sides" is telling. 
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Ah.hell on May 01, 2019, 01:38:13 PM
Its interesting that the answer to the OP depends on what side your on. 
That there are "sides" is telling. 
Is it?  There's sides on whether the Earth is flat, i'd expect you'd be hard pressed to find and issue/idea without sides.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: John Albert on May 01, 2019, 03:26:04 PM
This kind of illiberal view is an unfortunate consequence of the Internet.
Recognizing that people are not swayed by logic, reason and facts was around long before the internet.

Yes, but I'm not talking about the fact that some people are not swayed by logic, reason and facts.

I'm talking about the idea you just promoted:

         
So now we have people on these forums trying to argue that discussing evidence using reason and logic is a waste of time,


It is a waste of time, if it involves anything unscientific.  Even with hard science it can be a waste of time.  But anything remotely political it is a waste of time.

Just because some people have a tendency to be unreasonable, that doesn't prove that discourse is necessarily a waste of time.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: John Albert on May 01, 2019, 03:42:19 PM
Its interesting that the answer to the OP depends on what side your on.  Alarmist implies an exaggerated claim.  Climate deniers are not using the term to possibly concede the severity of the situation, they are using it to call the claimant a liar.  So, Ad hom.

But in some cases the climate deniers may have a point there. Some claims about climate change have no doubt been quite alarmist. "The world is going to end in 12 years," and so forth.

Just the same, some of us may consider that a justifiable exaggeration to scare people into immediate action.

At any rate, whether or not a given claim is "alarmist" is a matter of opinion, not really a logical fallacy per se. And even if a particular claim is exaggerated, that doesn't invalidate the entirety of climate science.


But as someone who has studied climate change and understands the science, my internal monologue responds, "You're damned right I'm alarmist - we should all be alarmed." So, non-seq as well?

I would start by establishing which specific claims the denier considered alarmist, and then examining the substance of the claim, comparing it to known facts about current trends, and going from there.

It may be that they're just ill-informed about the severity of the situation, or they may have a point. If the claim they're citing is indeed alarmist, then the most intellectually honest route is to acknowledge that everybody on our side is not correct 100% of the time, but that doesn't mean climate change is not a dire threat. Then make an effort to avoid hyperbole and keep the conversation rooted in facts going forward.
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: Ah.hell on May 01, 2019, 04:04:25 PM
Just because some people have a tendency to be unreasonable, that doesn't prove that discourse is necessarily a waste of time.
I find  that even when I start and end the conversation still disagreeing with someone it can at least get me to take a look at my own assumptions on the matter, I like to think so anyway. 
Title: Re: Name that logical fallacy: Dismissing a claim because it is "alarmist"
Post by: John Albert on May 01, 2019, 04:14:31 PM
Just because some people have a tendency to be unreasonable, that doesn't prove that discourse is necessarily a waste of time.

I find  that even when I start and end the conversation still disagreeing with someone it can at least get me to take a look at my own assumptions on the matter, I like to think so anyway.

Absolutely! The discussion compels us to consider the pros and cons of our own beliefs. And if a debate bothers us enough to overcome our own intellectual inertia, it might even stimulate further research that results in learning.

Best case scenario, we'll find out we're not so right as we thought we were about some particular belief, and heavens forbid we might learn something. It happens every day!