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The Australian is spreading misinformation on climate change … again

April 15, 2015

sea ice

The Climate Council has the details of The Australian’s latest attempt to delude its readers.

The Australian is back at it, skewing the facts and publishing harmful misinformation on climate change. We’ve previously debunked their claims of a “pause in warming” here.

Their latest claim, that Arctic seas ice melt has stabilised, is flat out wrong, here’s why:

Read the rest of the article at the Climate Council.

  1. frbennett permalink

    It is amazing how this tactic works again and again and again. A particularly effective strategy when you have outlets like Fox News … I mean The Australian to help “catapult the propaganda”.

    Graham, I have often wondered about the merits of teaching philosophy in primary and secondary schools in order to help students develop the ability to think critically. I have been reminded of this again with the anti-vaccine movement and their inclination to be persuaded by a thoroughly lazy argument (and don’t even get me started on the religious nutcases).

    If people were trained to think critically from a young age, I think that it would be more difficult to be comfortable with an argument full of logical fallacies. That is to say that the cognitive dissonance would be too difficult to ignore if critical thinking and reasoning was second nature.

    It would have to make getting away with claims like this much more difficult.

    • Good point Fred. My hope would be that critical thinking is taught in every subject of the school curriculum, and that there would be no need for a special subject. However, we all know that isn’t the case. In fact there’s a strong tendency for students to avoid subjects that involve anything resembling critical thinking if they possibly can. I think it’s a reflection of the need for certainty that exists in many people. Whether this comes from their early educational experiences or their upbringing, I don’t know, but it’s a formidable hurdle to overcome.

      • frbennett permalink

        I come across this article that seems relevant to this conversation Graham (you may have spotted it already). The author use a term “agnotology-based learning” or refutational teaching. This may be an effective method for teaching some topics in science that would address some of the concerns I outlined above. What do you think, is it an approach that you have used and found effective? It actually sounds like it would be very engaging.

        • I’ve been sort of trying to get my head around this idea of “agnotology-based learning” for a little while now, Fred. To my mind, it sounds very much like the Constructivist learning theory that was pretty much state-of-the-art in my teaching days. Basically, it postulated that everyone builds their own mental construction of reality. Experts have a mental construction that corresponds well to the real world, novices have constructions that are very rickety. The idea in teaching is to entice the novices to gradually modify their constructions so that they resemble more closely those of experts. Of course, they won’t do that if their constructions are, in their view, quite adequate. So the trick is to convince them that parts of their constructions are faulty. Under this model, you introduce teaching situations where their models (constructions) fail and then introduce a better model (an alternative construction) that does the job better. For example, you might remember the old “Does a coin projected sideways take longer to hit the ground than one dropped vertically?” demonstration. Or, after spending months studying the wave model of light, we would then introduce the Einstein photoelectric experiment to show that the wave “construction” needs to be modified.
          I think I’m enrolled in John Cook’s MOOC, so no doubt I’ll become better informed.

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