Wednesday, October 1, 2014

[PHI 1000] "I could read it but I don't believe it"

Some members of the House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space, and Technology appear to mistrust scientists and what they say about climate change, as seen in this clip from The Daily Show.

For example, Rep. Larry Bucshon says the following:
All the climatologists whose careers depend on the climate changing to keep themselves publishing articles ... I could read [the scientific literature on climate change] but I don't believe it.
Is this a good reason to mistrust what scientists say about climate change?


  1. Some members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology appear to mistrust scientists, and what they say about climate change. Buschon’s comment on the subject is absurd. How can he disagree with something that he hasn’t even read?

    The climatologists who publish articles on the climate change are more credited due to the fact that this is their actual profession. Like Stewart said, the climate is not just a hobby for these people, but rather, a profession. It is what their expertise is in.

    The fact that these individuals are on such a committee is very disheartening because their arguments are very weak and invalid. It is apparent that they have no solid evidence to back up what they are saying.

  2. I don’t think that there is a good reason to mistrust what scientists say about climate change. If the premise of the argument is that climatologists continue to report on global warming simply to make money, then we can hold that premise to other situations as well. For example, with this mindset, we can say that cancer truly does not exist and thus, cancer researchers are only conducting research for the sake of earning an income. Furthermore, research shouldn’t have to a hobby in order to produce non-money oriented information. There are many individuals who go into their line of work simply for the love of the field and not for the salary.

    -Shana J.

  3. Improving Your Thinking

    The statement made in this video is similar to black and white thinking. This is a type of thinking where the second statement has no correlation to the first. The statement that is being made is that scientists only created the concept of global warming to make money, because in order to research for something this big there needs to be millions of dollars spent into the research. Not only research, but they also get their names out there by publishing articles. Due to this, people should not trust scientists and their intentions. This type of argument also reminds me of ad hominem because the argument is being directed at an opponent (being the scientists) rather than being relevant towards proving the conclusion which is that climate change does or does not exist. I do not think that this is a reason to mistrust scientists because if that were the case then believing anything that has to do with sickness and how the body works would be an issue. For example, I am a Biology major and there are so many concepts that I learn about how the body works, and how chemical reactions work that are in my textbooks or taught by my professors. My classmates and I always talk about how if all of these concepts we are learning are true just because it’s in a textbook. We all have doubts as to how certain things work, and how researchers and scientists were able to find these concepts out and if they only found out just because the way things worked, worked out for them and so they could publish it. If were to mistrust scientists with their knowledge on climate change then we should mistrust doctors and how they diagnose someone. This would be saying that certain sicknesses didn’t exist and a patient would just be diagnosed with a sickness just for medicine to be prescribed and for doctors and the medical field to make money. This is not the case because clearly people who do undergo medication are diagnosed with a certain sickness. If not, then that would just be insane.

    Works Cited

    Cahn, Steven M. Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. New York: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.

  4. I do not think this is a good reason to mistrust what scientists and climatologists have to say about climate change. I think that Mr. Bucshon makes a valid point that you shouldn't agree with everything you read, but he doesn't exactly back this up with any sort of viable logic when he says that he would instead rather believe public comments on a matter of science over actual scientists. When your car needs maintenance you take it to a mechanic or someone in that field who knows a good deal on how a car works. You do not take it to just anyone with a wrench and a bottle of oil- someone who thinks they know what they're doing. You want someone who has studied this field and who will get you back up and on the road in as little time as possible. Mr. Stewart made an excellent remark by pointing out that Bucshon's campaign is heavily funded by energy companies; Murray Energy taking the top spot, Peabody Energy coming in third followed by Vectren Corp- a fortune 1000 energy holding company. To be fair, Bucshon doesn't exactly discredit Mr. John Holdren, the president's science advisor, when he says this. He says that he doesn't believe it, meaning that it could be true, just that he doesn't want think it is. He thinks that climatologists are only out there, in a sense over, exaggerating the issues in order to continue to write articles on it. This isn't true at all, nor should it be thought as such. It is a common thought to think that a mechanic you do not know well will try to make a quick buck off of you by fixing the problem you came in with, but also offsetting something else in order for you to come back and have it fixed. But the same could easily be said about almost any profession who we put our trust in. Doctors could cure us of what ails us today only to infect us with something that will bring us back a week later. Insurance brokers can offer clients coverage that they would not normally need, but tell them they would just so they can collect on their commissions. In insurance we actually have a term for this- operating in "good faith" which basically means that you with the extensive knowledge of the industry with which you are in will do your best to assist your client to the best of your ability without confliction of personal interest.

  5. Based on the readings and information gathered from the video, I must admit that this is not a good reason to mistrust what scientists say about climate change. The statement being examined put forth by Representative Larry Buschon is lacking significantly in any logical method of thinking or validating arguments. I would argue that this argument demonstrates petition princicipii because the statements depend on the other for the truth. If scientists wanted to keep their jobs has little to do with the validity of their arguments, thus failing to prove anything. This argument is unable to validate climate change as something silly, because this statement directly dances around exactly what it is supposed to prove. Also, this argument seems to have elements in which make it consistent with an ad hominem fallacy. Instead of being relevant to the discussion at hand, or jumping to any valid conclusion, the Representative instead turns to invalidating scientists as people. Within the pieces provided an example of ad hominem provided was, “attacking Marx the man instead of offering direct reasons why his views are incorrect.” This statement falls in direct line with an almost character assassination, as opposed to bringing up any noteworthy or relevant information.

    Colleen Fonseca


This is an academic blog about critical thinking, logic, and philosophy. So please refrain from making insulting, disparaging, and otherwise inappropriate comments. Also, if I publish your comment, that does not mean I agree with it. Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog.