QualiaSoup video: Critical Thinking

By Phil Plait | January 4, 2010 7:30 am

Speaking of being a skeptic…

The skeptic who goes by the name QualiaSoup on YouTube posts fantastic short videos outlining why critical thinking is important, and his new one is no exception:

This one isn’t as hard-hitting as some of his others, but it outlines just why we need to think critically, and his message at the end is particularly apt.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Skepticism
MORE ABOUT: QualiaSoup

Comments (37)

  1. I really liked his video refuting substance dualism.

  2. vlad

    “Reasoning should be based in sound, consistent logic, not on emotions/social pressure. Truth of factual claims is not determined by (…) the fact that they may be believed by certain social groups.”

    That’s something anthropogenic global warming believers should think about.

  3. Floyd

    People on both sides of the AGW issue should be thinking about that statement.

    “AGW is happening” is a hypothesis.

    “AGW isn’t happening” is another hypothesis.

    The biggest problem with determining the correctness (or not) of the AGW hypotheses is that the evidence out there points to two different, conflicting conclusions.

  4. XMark

    Whoa, somehow the comments ended up shifting immediately to Global Warming denialism.

    I’ll just leave this here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

  5. Donovan

    So you’re saying we should be critical thinkers, Phil?

    Well, I don’t need to watch a video, then. Hey, you say think critically, I think critically. You say be a skeptic, I’m a skeptic. You say quit blindly and sheepishly following an authority, I say, “Whatever you say.”

    Kidding.

    Vlad & Floyd: The overwhelming evidence is that AGW is happening. I have yet to see any hard evidence that it is not, though I have seen evidence that varies the effect humans are having from bad to apocalyptic (with the stronger case for just “bad”). Given that the vast majority of climatologists agree AGW is true, the claim that it is not is a claim that must be heavily supported by evidence, not simply stated as a “cautious” approach or “critical skepticism.” Refusing the idea of AGW is denialism which requires the dismissal of 99% of the evidence to make the remaining 1% ambiguous. Perhaps AGW is wrong, but as I said, I have yet to see the evidence. Please, if your stand is that AGW is false, present the evidence. If you cannot do so, then you are the ones that need to watch this video carefully. You are the ones deceived by your own ignorance. You might as well be YECs.

  6. Annalee Flower Horne

    What I love most about these videos is how reasonable he is in promoting reason. I’ve encountered the atheist/fundamentalist false dichotomy a lot since I started working on being more skeptical, and it always makes me sad. I mean, I suppose that if someone wants to be an atheist without being a skeptic, that’s their business. But it’s always struck me as a little absurd to demand that others base their worldviews on reason when one’s not willing to do likewise. QualiaSoup is dead on, and he manages to do it without insulting potential allies.

  7. I must subscribe to his channel.

    Edit: It’s kind of amazing that the last time I saw a QualiaSoup video on this blog, I was a pseudo-Christian debating his faith against the masses of blog-readers here.

    How so much has changed in those few months is beyond my understanding. I guess I just grew up.

  8. Chrysoprase

    Honestly I would be surprised if there were any BA posts out there that havn’t been turned into yet another AGW debate by some troll. 8)

    So instead of going back over every single argument every single time on every single BA post, how about you all read this thread, follow the links, get educated about the subject, then be able to debate intelligently if you can come up with anything the thread (and many many BA comment discussions) has not already covered.

    http://www.cracked.com/forums/topic/30174/global-warming

  9. I’ve been following QS for some time now and learn something (sometimes a lot of somethings) from every one of his videos.

    Regarding AGW, I’ve been deliberately staying out of the debate(s) since they’re all no-win and the S/N ratio rapidly descends to intolerable levels.

    However, commenting specifically to “6. Donovan ” since the Earth has had many warming and cooling periods in the past with no input from humans, I’d say the burden of proof lies with the AGW proponents to show why the mechanisms that caused previous episodes are not in play now.

    Besides, it’s not a scientific debate, it’s political (gee, where have I heard that before?). Regardless of what you think of Spectroscope’s arguments, he is absolutely right about one point. The politicians with the power to tax and make policy have bought into the trivial “CO2 in = temp up, CO2 out = temp down” version of the debate. They’ve closed the door on any critical review and are forging ahead with all sorts of draconian policies based on it. Is there anyone in the AGW camp that will support this simplistic notion?

    - Jack

  10. @10 Jack Hagerty

    “The politicians with the power to tax and make policy have bought into the trivial “CO2 in = temp up, CO2 out = temp down” version of the debate.”

    There are two issues here. First, the CO2=temp up is pretty well known. There is nothing else that correlates long term with temps rising. Climate scientists, who are not stupid or naive as denialists make them out to be, have made predictions based on this and so far they sem to be pretty accurate:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/riddle-me-this/

    What those in denial of climate change also forget is that scientists who study climate understand its not just about the atmosphere, its about the oceans,too. The increase in CO2 has lead to an increase in the seas’ role as a carbon sink, raising the acidity levels. This is known to have a horrible effect on creatures that make shells.

    Your second point embedded in your quote is one of policy. That’s worth arguing about based on the fact of climate change. For instance, based on the resident time of various compounds in the atmosphere, it might make more sense to work on aerosols first, especially black carbon. That spends less time in the atmosphere than CO2 but cleaning that up might have a greater short-term impact and give us more time to work on the bigger problem. But CO2 has to be dealt with one way or another. Everything we add now will be affecting your kids and grandkids if left alone. That’s a fact too. Dealing with CO2 is a necessity. The best way to handle it is not.

    But this goes back to my original point. Scientists time and time again have proven that the stated causes of global warming are correct. They are using critical thinking, testing alternative hypothesis like whether cosmic rays are the cause or its the sun. Most I’ve known would be happy if the theory changed to something easier to deal with. But it hasn’t, and deniers continually saying “Prove it!” doesn’t make it untrue.

  11. Gary Ansorge

    10. Jack Hagerty

    I recall the ’70s argument that since interglacial periods generally last about 8 to 10 k years, we should be getting ready to enter another ice age. Unfortunately, the meteorological EVIDENCE didn’t appear to support that supposition. Which is why we started looking at as much evidence as we could to see which way climate was really trending and WHY. That’s what led us to this appreciation of CO2 and rising world temps. Granted, MAYBE there’s more going on than a simple greenhouse effect due to CO2, but Venus is a scary example of what COULD result from CO2 excess and since we really don’t understand where the “tipping” points are or what triggers them, we need to be assertive in dealing with the one for which we have some comprehension.

    GAry 7

  12. T.E.L.

    What’s really interesting is that the lady way over at the Left looks just like Sue Richards, The Invisible Girl.

  13. Donovan

    @Chrysoprase (comment 9)

    It has been a while since I commented on a science blog with such little science. I looked at other comments (“The biggest problem with determining the correctness (or not) of the AGW hypotheses is that the evidence out there points to two different, conflicting conclusions.” – “That’s something anthropogenic global warming believers should think about.” – “I’d say the burden of proof lies with the AGW proponents to show”) and see that eyes are as closed here as they are on any non-science blog. This is sad, frustrating, and dangerous, but you are right. The eyes are willfully closed and there is no point in arguing. I shall await better arguments than “Earth has had many warming and cooling periods in the past with no input from humans,” which is obviously true yet not so obviously misleading.

  14. Jefferson

    Just found QualiaSoup a few months ago. Awesome videos.

  15. Hecateus

    Donovan,
    Phil is not on their side. those two are just trolling

  16. DaveS

    This was good to see. I just spent a week of vacation in DC with my Xtian fundamentalist brother.

    It occurred to me that going through the Smithsonian Natural History Museum with him was very similar to what it’d be like going through the National Air and Space Museum with a moon-hoax believer.

  17. Critical thinking would tell one that Venus is not a good example to use when discussing CO2 in the atmosphere of Earth. One could start with, for example, the mass of Venus, the components of its atmosphere, and its position relative to the sun. And then one could go on and on and on…..

  18. Excellent :) We need more smart people on YouTube to deal with the VenomFangX and Geerups.

  19. StevoR

    @ 11. Gary Ansorge Says:

    Granted, MAYBE there’s more going on than a simple greenhouse effect due to CO2, but Venus is a scary example of what COULD result from CO2 excess

    Venus is a lot closer to the Sun – you do know that right? :roll:

    That was its problem – it probably used to have entire oceans but as it got more heat and as our Sun gradually became increasingly hotter those oceans then evapourated and *that’s* what caused it to suffer the runaway greenhouse. Venus now has an atmosphere composed of 96 % C02 Vs Earth where Co2 is a trace gas making up less than 1% of our atmosphere.

    (Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus )

    Not even Al Gore would claim the supposed AGW will make Earth into Venus would he? Would he?

    and since we really don’t understand where the “tipping” points are or what triggers them,

    Or even if there *are* any so-called “tipping points” at all given Earth has been far hotter with far higher levels of Co2 in the geologically recent past.

    we need to be assertive in dealing with the one for which we have some comprehension.

    Well I think we need to ask ourselves the question of *do* we have enough comprehension? Climatology is a very complex area with a whole lot more variables in many areas than just Co2 – maybe, for example, we just need to wait for a big volcano to erupt & cool things down? ;-)

    Maybe it is all natural variability and since the AGW believers predictions aren’t exactly panning out & since, like it or not, climategate has cast some doubt on the validity of the climatological data and people involved, it might pay to stop and re-assess what we think we know about the problem – and even *if* it is a problem – before taking any rash action?

  20. Gary Ansorge

    20 SteveR:

    LAst time I looked, Venus was about 108 million km from the sun vs Earth at 152 million km so yeah, I AM aware venus is closer to old Sol than Earth and it has no H2O and it has no moon and, and , and, etc.

    ,,,but w/o it’s CO2 its surface temp would be a LOT less than it is now.(by about 350 degrees C).

    What we Do know is this:
    1) CO2 rises:
    1b) temp rises a little
    2) temp rises:
    2b) ocean temps also rise(a little)
    2c) oceans release more CO2
    2d) tundra releases CH4(another infrared retaining gas)
    3) atmosphere temp rises more
    3b) warmer air absorbs H2O(another infrared retaining gas)

    So we have at least three gasses that are sequentially linked. Each is a contributor to global warming but the ball starts rolling with the increase in CO2.

    From what I recall, ALL chaotic systems have tipping points that are most often related to phase changes of various materials. The latent heat of vaporization of water (to convert it from liquid to a gas) is 2260 kj/kg) ie, you have to keep pumping in energy to convert the H2O from a liquid at 100 degrees C to steam at 100 degrees C.(when I was in school we used calories/gm). Until that amount of energy has been added, there is no conversion of the water to vapor(and it’s vapor in the air that retains infrared). What meteorological scientists are really concerned about is how much energy must enter the system to initiate a massive cascade of the system. More water in the air might very well be THE tipping point but we don’t know how much has to be absorbed before it results in an exponential increase(ie, run away greenhouse effect). It’s PROBABLY a long way from where we are at present but the thing is we just don’t KNOW and it’s usually better to be safe than sorry.

    ,,,but it all starts with one insult and in our case that is the rise in CO2.(kinda like a bar room fight.)

    Perhaps in the case of Venus it all started when massive amounts of water ended up as vapor that rose to the tops of the cloud layers and had the H2 stripped and blown away by solar UV. Then all that was left were the heavy gases.

    I might note that we’ve had one of the coldest weeks in a very long time here in Georgia (at 1pm it’s 30 degrees F) however,,,Al Khobar Saudi Arabia is at 59 degrees F right now and that’s at 9pm local time. Guess that sorta counter balances us,,,

    GAry 7

  21. dachs_dude

    # 20 True.

    Also, I had seen, somewhere a while back, that temperatures on Mars were also seen to be increasing See here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1720024.ece

    However, to suggest that the sun might have something to do with the temperature here on Earth may be seen by some as un-scientific. :)

    Some skeptical questions:
    How do scientists account for the warming on Mars?

    If they can’t as of yet, how do they know that the warming on Earth isn’t caused by the same phenomena?

    If we aren’t sure, then why the rush to make manufacturing and modern life more expensive in the West while somehow exempting China and India and the African continent from any such proscriptions?

    Have we, as a species, skipped over the capacity to control the weather and can now control the climate on a planetary basis?

    Honestly, I’m all for sending as small a check as possible to the electric company, (I’ve got squiggly bulbs, but I’m not sure about the mercury, and I’ve cut all of my “phantom” electrical consumers with kill switches), and the Oil company, (insulation, lower thermostat), but before we decide to tax ourselves back into the Bronze Age, maybe we should make sure we’re doing it for the right reasons.

  22. gss_000

    @20. StevoR

    “Maybe it is all natural variability and since the AGW believers predictions aren’t exactly panning out”

    See my previous post.

    “climategate has cast some doubt on the validity of the climatological data and people involved, it might pay to stop and re-assess…”

    I’m glad someone actually did look at it:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091212/ap_on_sc/climate_e_mails

    It really has only cast doubt for those who didn’t agree with it in the first place.

    “Earth has been far hotter with far higher levels of Co2 in the geologically recent past.”

    True…millions of years ago. Guess who wasn’t around then? Us. The issue is not that life will die, the issue is that people are adjusted to this climate we live in today and rapidly changing it could have enormous consequences. Furthermore, those levels were reached over long periods of time. When you force a system quickly like we have done today with CO2, you can’t just look at another time with similar CO2 levels. It’s the difference between a slap and a pat. The difference is in how fast it is applied.

  23. Petrolonfire

    @ 9. Chrysoprase Says:

    Honestly I would be surprised if there were any BA posts out there that havn’t been turned into yet another AGW debate by some troll.

    Hmm … let’s see what I can do about that.

    Abortion, capital punishment, gay marriage, the existence or otherwise of the being claimed to be God, Creationsim / ID~iot-ism, the war in Iraq, the Israel-Palestine conflict, the war in Afghanistan, what do we do about North Korea & Iran, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, the Obama presdency, the “Dubya” Bush presidency, the Clinton presidency, healthcare / Obamacare, Tiger Woods – too good in golf & bed, feminism, racism, sexism, UFO’s, Lisa Nowak – that nappy wearing would-be kidnapper /murder astronaut in that love triangle – where’s she now & how’d *she* get into NASA, Edgar Mitchell – right or crazy, the secret cabal of Reptiloid Zeta Reticulans that are really running our planet.. & Plasma Cosmology EU right or wrong?

    Somebody’s gotta bite here! ;-)

    Well, at least it offers the promise of some diversity in trolls … &, guess what, you can apply critical thinking to all of the above. ;-) (Although few people actually do.)

  24. Huh?

    I turn on the TV news to hear about record snowstorms and cold snaps in America, the worst in 30 years in England and the worst in 60 years in China.

    Yet the AGW Alarmists keep shrieking “The world is warming! The world is warming! The skies falling in!” Yeah right. :roll:

    How do they try to explain that?

    Think critically people, think critically. ;-)

    (Yes, I know the Warmers excuse it as “just weather not climate” – but what is climate except a whole lot of weather added up? Besides they do that with any weather event that doesn’t support their line & yet oddly enough every hot spell or drought or hurricane that happens immediately gets the “Oh its because of global warming expect more & worse to come” treatment. Hypocrites.)

  25. Huh?

    BTW. The fearless Ann Coulter < has a great column on the AGW here

    written with her usual no nonsense, no quarter to the Politically Correct namby-pamby mob style. As usual, she tells the truth boldy and unequivocally &, yes, I know the liberals always froth at the mouth at the mere mention of her name as she’s one of their big “hate figures” – but, like it or not, she’s right! ;-)

    [Link edited by The Bad Astronomer to fix an HTML issue.]

  26. 16. Hecateus Says: “Donovan, Phil is not on their side. those two are just trolling”

    If you’re referring to me as one of “those two” (Donovan quoted me without attribution), then you obviously haven’t been reading this blog very long.

    - Jack

  27. StevoR

    I liked Letterman’s graphic of a shivering Earth wearing one of those Canadian caps with the furred ear flaps last night on the Late Show. with David Letterman when he was talking about the recent freezing cold snap. Anyone else see that? ;-)

    Global warming? I don’t think so. ;-)

  28. Huh?

    Link edited by the Bad Astronomer to fix an html issue

    Thanks. That’s good of you. :-)

  29. T.E.L.

    Huh? Said:

    “I turn on the TV news to hear about record snowstorms and cold snaps in America, the worst in 30 years in England and the worst in 60 years in China.

    Yet the AGW Alarmists keep shrieking “The world is warming! The world is warming! The skies falling in!” Yeah right.”

    Are you willing to apply the same kind if reasoning when you hear about regional record-breaking heat waves? Global warming does NOT translate to every spot on the Globe uniformly going up in temperature. (Do you even know what temperature means reductively?)

    Global warming means that the total heat content of the atmosphere is rising. Assuming that this is the case, it won’t mean that everywhere on Earth will get uniformly hotter across the board any more than it has in the past. The atmosphere is a heat engine. There will be regional differentiation. That’s why all along there’s been snow in Minnesota and rain in Hawaii at the same time. You haven’t noticed this sort of thing?

    If the heat inventory of the atmosphere is rising, it WILL generate extremes in weather. There’s nothing inconsistent with regionally colder, wetter winters, just like there’s nothing inconsistent with regionally hotter, dryer summers.

    And, Ann Coulter doesn’t give one rat’s ass about Global Warming. She’s a ten-cent populist panderer, a huckster. She doesn’t know any more about weather than you do.

  30. Huh?

    @ 30 T.E.L. :

    Ann Coulter doesn’t give one rat’s ass about Global Warming. She’s a ten-cent populist panderer, a huckster. She doesn’t know any more about weather than you do.

    You know this *how* exactly? :roll:

    I can say for sure that you don’t know me because I don’t know you. And I’m also pretty sure you don’t know Ann Coulter. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I bet you’ve never met her and haven’t bothered to read any of her books or listen to anything she’s said.

    Still, thanks for confirming for us all that liberals will froth at the mouth when her name gets mentioned! ;-) :-P

    PS. Did you even bother reading what she said? Thought not.

  31. T.E.L.

    Huh?,

    I know what Ann Coulter says in public. If she knows better, then she’s not showing it. I also know what YOU said here in this thread. If you know better, then you’re not showing it, Moose.

  32. Huh?

    Moose? Huh?

    Oh & what’s wrong with what she’s says in public – let me guess, not politically correct enough for you?

    Ann Coulter says what we all know is true but nobody else has the guts to say because it ain’t politically correct & the PC mob will howl folks down for being honest. You know its true. Somewhere deep down inside even liberals know that they are wrong & conservatives like Coulter are right.

    PC is rubbish & dangerous nonsense at that. Time to ditch it & go with what we know is true instead of all the namby-pamby PC pieties that are dragging us all to hell.

  33. T.E.L.

    Huh? Said:

    “Moose? Huh?”

    Yes. The shoe fits.

    “Oh & what’s wrong with what she’s says in public – let me guess not politically correct enough for you?

    PC is rubbish & dangerous nonsense at that. Time to ditch it & go with what we know is true instead of all the namby-pamby PC pieties that are dragging us all to hell.”

    I’m not talking about PC. I’m talking about how she never said anything falsifiable about the behavior of WEATHER. All she talked about in that article was politics. That’s all you are talking about. It’s all you and she know to talk about.

    Example: I asked “Are you willing to apply the same kind if reasoning when you hear about regional record-breaking heat waves?” Have you even bothered to address this? Nope.

    By the way, I should point out that nowhere on the entire Internet have I said what I think about Global Warming per se. I have on the other hand lambasted people like you for your shoddy, ignorant reasoning. Being politically correct won’t tell us anything more about climate than being politically incorrect. What matters isn’t if someone’s trying to lie to you about the Climate. What matters is what the Climate is really doing; and to discover that you need to do more than read Ann Coulter. She’s leading you around on a leash.

  34. Hecateus

    @27

    JH, I have been reading the blog for a while, but not so much the comments. I will try to pay more attention.

  35. Donovan

    A thing that should be pointed out, even by a tree hugging socialist like me, is that CO2 will not cause the earth to become like Venus by itself. Due to our distance from the sun and the ability of our atmosphere to hold only x amount of CO2, it just can’t happen. A Venus-like earth is a scare tactic: using an extreme example to try to sell a point.

    That being said, I hardly find it reassuring the earth will not become like Venus. There is a very deadly span we can still traverse. As temperatures climb, in the short term, migrating agriculture will lead to political chaos and war. Less arable land will lead to famine, probably even here in the US. And it is still possible we will reach a tipping point when the earth can simply not support the needs of human civilization at all and it will take massive effort to remain an extant species.

    Of course, we need not drive the earth over that tipping point ourselves. Most other mass extinctions were the combination of two or more events that were respectively minor by themselves. By bringing earth to a fragile point we are inviting disaster. Dousing my house in gasoline won’t harm a thing, but it is still stupid. So it is with the earth. Even if AGW is seemingly minor, it brings us to the mercy of events we cannot control. A small meteor impact would have far more devastating consequences on a planet so delicately perched.

    And then there is my “Homos Rule! (the species, not the slur)” reason to stop burning fossil fuels. Because we can. We can make better cars that you can run in a closed garage, cars that can’t catch fire. We can create abundant electricity, 30,000,000 years if we use only earth based fusion fuels (at current usage), that will give all the people of earth true sovereignty. We can, we need to, so quit digging in your heals and whining about it.

  36. Robert Perry

    I would like to grt a copy of the video on “Critical Thinking.
    I will be conducting a training session on critial thinking
    and would like to show this video.

    Thanks,

    Robert Perry

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