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The Perils of Pop Philosophy

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the bloggers-beware dept.

The Internet 484

ThousandStars tips a new piece by Julian Sanchez, the guy who, in case you missed it, brought us a succinct definition of the one-way hash argument (of the type often employed in the US culture wars). This one is about the dangers of a certain kind of oversimplifying, as practiced routinely by journalists and bloggers. "This brings us around to some of my longstanding ambivalence about blogging and journalism more generally. On the one hand, while it's probably not enormously important whether most people have a handle on the mind-body problem, a democracy can't make ethics and political philosophy the exclusive province of cloistered academics. On the other hand, I look at the online public sphere and too often tend to find myself thinking: 'Discourse at this level can't possibly accomplish anything beyond giving people some simulation of justification for what they wanted to believe in the first place.' This is, needless to say, not a problem limited to philosophy."

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Troll penis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179251)

You got a troll penis in your mouth.

FP

I think I speak for many of us when I say... (4, Insightful)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179267)

What?

Re:I think I speak for many of us when I say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179317)

someone always starts a meta discussion or meta-blog in this case ;)

how about a meta-meta-discussion here? :P

He talks too much. That's what. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179765)

"blah blah without philosophical background blah blah you won't understand any of this blah blah blah takes thousands of words and dozens of paragraphs blah blah" I mean, get to the point already, man!

Re:I think I speak for many of us when I say... (4, Insightful)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179845)

For those still in school; or people like me who never left, I would suggest taking philosophy courses for social science electives if they allow you. A nascent Philosophy of Computer Science is developing and looking for help with the foundations [google.com] (PDF File).

Philosophy and a sense of direction, often errant is all you got at the borders of any field. WV Quine and Popper have become interlocutors that after many readings I have access to when working on an intellectual task. Reading philosophy for me has brought great minds into contact with my own and given me a bit of humility and a shared sense of purpose I wish I had in my 20's.

Re:I think I speak for many of us when I say... (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180025)

But that's not often the ethos here.

You're supposed to react with your gut, prejudices, and empirical sense of I'm smarter-than-you tact here.

Failing that, say something funny or troll with goatse.

Failing that, add in something pithy, or something that whores karma points.

TFA makes the improper assumption that in various contexts, people give a crap what you think. They blurt out stuff randomly, and look for allies to justify their boorishness and prattle. Having found a mob or a tribe, they then evolve the idea in to a cult like status, reveling in the success of whatever their pseudo-punditry delivers. Blather at best. Hate at worst. Then the idea must be defended, and everything mushrooms with chest pounding and the attempt to stick other crap to the original idea to make it have gravity.

Welcome my friends, to the show that never ends. Come on in, come on in, come on in.

Re:I think I speak for many of us when I say... (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180175)

Me too!

Re:I think I speak for many of us when I say... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28180059)

Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself.

--H. L. Mencken

Nope, you don't (1, Offtopic)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180011)

You missed out "The Fuck?"

 

Re:I think I speak for many of us when I say... (5, Funny)

shadow349 (1034412) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180023)

What?

Blogging; never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.

(Apologies to Despair [despair.com] ).

Conservation of Mind. (1)

Prysorra (1040518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179279)

In the end, a hive mind is only one mind.

KISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179363)

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Re:KISS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179891)

Kids In Satans Service

Re:Conservation of Mind. (2, Funny)

machine321 (458769) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179589)

We disagree.

Re:Conservation of Mind. (4, Funny)

KingOfGod (884633) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179677)

We are Blog. Intelligence is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We will add your philosophical and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours.

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong (2, Funny)

siloko (1133863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179285)

'Discourse at this level can't possibly accomplish anything beyond giving people some simulation of justification . . .

Well the guys obviously wrong, or at least guilty of a typo - I think he meant stimulation of justification.

Re:Wrong, Wrong, Wrong (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179587)

Youre right,

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Re:Wrong, Wrong, Wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179817)

By the way, go fuck yourself and your shitty referral link to your shitty fucking piece of shit game.

Re:Wrong, Wrong, Wrong (2, Informative)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180113)

I don't if he meant "simulation", but a simulation of justification makes sense (something appears to be justification even though it is not).

Dangers of being an arrogant ass (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179293)

Locking up knowledge so that only specialists get access is a stupid, destructive, elitist practice that is self defeating (who do you think funds most work???) and detracts from the life we're all capable of leading. Those who Suggest that popular accounts can't be good are just making a poor excuse for their own inability to communicate. Over-simplification isn't the whole problem. Poor communication is.

Most people over the age of about 12 (well 16 in some places) understand that you won't get all the detail from a popular article. Popular articles are about giving us the flavour of what's being discussed. Without them a great deal of human knowledge is complete inaccessible to the masses. Hell, even the most intelligent of us doesn't have time to specialise in every field.

It can be done, or it can be done poorly. Done well people get a flavour for the complexity of the topic, understand the limitations of the popular description, walk away with an appreciation for the topic and perhaps get to chat to other intelligent people about the wonders of it. Take a look at Sagan's Cosmos, Brian Greene's Elegant Universe (whether or not you think String theory is the way forward), any Attenborough documentary (if you can stay awake - I must confess the man's voice is a cure for insomnia which is a pity because I think his documentaries are so well done)

Done poorly Joe Schmoe walks way with a misunderstanding based on poor analogies and either thinks the topic is a total waste of time and money or rhat he could do better at the field with no specialist knowledge. See almost any human interest piece on the news, idiotic wildlife entertainment shows like Steve Irwin's tripe, and all reality TV.

Re:Dangers of being an arrogant ass (5, Insightful)

DMiax (915735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179443)

Locking up knowledge so that only specialists get access is a stupid, destructive, elitist practice that is self defeating (who do you think funds most work???) and detracts from the life we're all capable of leading. Those who Suggest that popular accounts can't be good are just making a poor excuse for their own inability to communicate. Over-simplification isn't the whole problem. Poor communication is.

Since the summary clearly states that culture should not be locked up, you completely missed the point. Which is: can an expert (in any field, not just philosofy) divulge and disseminate his/her knowledge without the general public assume they are omniscient experts too?

Note however that the question arises also in scientific/technological matters. For example most Slashdotters assume to be authorities on any of those. Look at all the bad programming/computer administration advice you can get from the comments. (Sending my karma to hell for implying that slashdotters are less than omniscient on computer subjects)

In the end, the article is right and probably more general than that. We non-experts know nothing about climate change and we cannot understand the merit of the debate. A seemingly winning argument for us could be a huge logical fallacy if we knew a little more than that. The only remedy is to put trust in those we call experts, which is difficult because everybody pretends to be one. Bonus points for a working solution.

Re:Dangers of being an arrogant ass (5, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179649)

It's even more messy than that. In many areas (climate change is one, but pretty much any area where people are trying to influence politicians) I know I'm not an expert and don't understand the real issues but I can also see that one or both sides of the debate are depending on invalid or misleading use of statistics. So it's even harder to work out who the experts are, because in their efforts to disseminate their knowledge some step out of their area of expertise and come across as incompetent.

Communication (3, Insightful)

siloko (1133863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179499)

Over-simplification isn't the whole problem. Poor communication is.

You got it right there, if you can't communicate complex ideas to interested parties outside your field then you don't properly understand your field. Intelligence comes into it but only to a point . . . why use three syllables when one will do!

Re:Communication (1)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179831)

> why use three syllables when one will do! Sometimes you have to use a whole different language. And, some concepts don't transfer well to some people. People are individually *different*.

Re:Communication (4, Insightful)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179861)

> Intelligence comes into it but only to a point . . .

Out of interest, what is that point?

Are you saying that the vast majority of the human race will have a good intuitive understanding of physics if only the argument is put well enough in sufficiently clear english?

Re:Communication (2, Interesting)

siloko (1133863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180065)

If you have an audience that is sufficiently interested in your subject to be reading/hearing whatever material you are presenting and you are still unable to presnt your ideas in such a way that the majority of that audience understands you then things have gone wrong:

either

you misunderstood your audience

or

you don't sufficiently understand your topic

or

you're an inherently bad communicator.

Of course there can be other explanations but I am talking generally here. Perhaps the ideas ARE actually extremely complex, sure these exist, but they are the exception not the norm.

Re:Communication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28180271)

Yes. And if you drop an object out of your hand while standing on the moon it will float- just ask Buzz Armstrong.

Re:Communication (5, Insightful)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180265)

" . . .if you can't communicate complex ideas to interested parties outside your field then you don't properly understand your field."

I think it depends what field you're in, and the background of who you're trying to communicate with. An engineer talking to another engineer or scientist in a different field is one thing, an engineer talking to a dental hygienist is something else entirely.

Try explaining transient noise analysis, the hot electron effect or negative bias temperature instability in integrated circuits to a non-technical audience. Even if you start out with an "interested party", they'll turn into an expressionless zombie before you've finished.

It's not always a simple matter of communication skills. Some ideas require a foundation of knowledge, without which, the idea is nearly impossible to conceptualize.

Re:Dangers of being an arrogant ass (4, Insightful)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179805)

> It can be done, or it can be done poorly.

But the point is that for many ideas, the majority of people are not in a position to evaluate whether the exposition is done well or poorly...

Even a topic as superficially obvious as evolution benefits from a basic mathematical intuition and a nodding acquaintance with mathematical complexity. Most popular descriptions I've seen of the evolutionary process characterise it as 'random chance', whereas it's a more complex mechanism comprising the following elements:

  • A sieving process - everything that slips through the sieve *dies* or fares less well
  • A fitness memory - the set of genomes across a genetically similar population, or an *individual* genome where fitness in not communicated.
  • Optionally, a mechanism for distributing a subset of working fitness characteristics throught a genetically similar population (sexual reproduction or sideways gene transfer).
  • An underlying randomisation driver in the form of things like cosmic ray damage and other influences that might tend to change the genome data.

So, option (a) random chance or option (b) the more complex system with its attendant subleties?

Option (a) genuinely *does* give irreducible complexity, whereas in option (b), the numbers work and you can use the mechanism to practical effect in genetic algorithms...

Which option sells best when a confident, charismatic person sells it to a typical member of the public? It's the easiest thing in the world to ignore the subtleties inherent to a complex topic. We're set up to do it - if we were not, we'd spend all our time gazing at the intricate designs in the rug and tracing them back to their religious, mathematical, philosophical and social roots. We'd starve or be eaten.

Is it arrogant and elitist to understand something which the majority of people have difficulty with? In the above instance, no-one is hiding the knowledge, and yet there's no shortage of people who doubt evolution. Finally, it's an argument from personal experience, but I'm from a working-class family. The rest of my family would glaze over and say something rude if I tried to talk about this kind of thing. They don't want to know. Ironically, they *do* believe in evolution, but the keyword here is *believe*. Place them in a different context, around glib people with a different agenda, and they'll believe that the Great Marmoset scooped up its poop and moulded it into a patty-cake, and thus we have the world. Forgive me if my arrogant elitist frustration leaks out all over the floor.

Re:Dangers of being an arrogant ass (2, Insightful)

addsalt (985163) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180031)

The rest of my family would glaze over and say something rude if I tried to talk about this kind of thing.

I think you are getting to the root cause of what I think the article missed. Most people are not interested in actually striving to find out the truth (regardless of what the truth happens to be). Pop philosophy is helping people justify the beliefs they already have, regardless of what it is. To do that, all you need is a plausible sounding argument.

You don't have to be a generalist... (5, Interesting)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179957)

or specialize in every field. Studying math and specializing in it is a safe bet to gain most general knowledge that is still applicable to wide array of scientific fields, and that would allow you to follow quite a bit of science.

These days majority of science is based on mathematical models, including physics, chemistry (esp. the physical chemistry part of it), biochemistry, computer science, certainly climate and weather prediction, astronomy, engineering of almost any kind, but esp. electrical and mechanical, and lately more esoteric things like psychology and theories of the mind, and less esoteric things like sociology and crowd behaviors.

True, mathematician is no expert on any of these fields, but is armed with enough mathematical knowledge that coupled with a bit of curiosity and motivation to read and research is enough to give them insight into any of these fields, and sometimes better insight than people who traditionally are bad at formulating theories like biologists, or psychiatrists for example.

Re:You don't have to be a generalist... (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180001)

Computer science shouldn't be on that list; despite the terribly misleading name, it's not science, it's math.

Re:You don't have to be a generalist... (0)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180159)

Actually, some aspects of computer science can be more like science (you know, hypothesize, create experiment and test your hypothesis) than pure math.

This is particularly true in applications (i.e. programming) where this cycle of write code to implement some functionality, compile, run to test if it works, modify code again etc. is how we really work.

The web gives us all a voice (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179299)

When Planned Parenthood was founded, many people were disgusted at the thought of an agency dedicated to abortion. Worse, though, was the fact that PP was founded in order to control the population of undesirables, and Sanger, the founder of PP, was especially eager to label non-whites as undesirable.

Now, here's the dilemma. If we take the position that speech itself is relatively useless since anyone can do it, and that only actions are important since only those willing to act will effect true change, then how do we reconcile the good which PP has brought while taking into consideration the completely immoral basis upon which it was founded?

Sanchez is wrong in his supposition that speech itself is wrong. Speech leads to debate, and debate can bring out the truth. The ancient Greek sophists knew this, and thus we have the practice of oratory.

Re:The web gives us all a voice (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179319)

Eat my goatse'd penis!

Niggers [goatse.fr]

Re:The web gives us all a voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179357)

the fact that PP was founded in order to control the population of undesirables, and Sanger, the founder of PP, was especially eager to label non-whites as undesirable.

Can't you come up with something that's actually true to push your political agenda?

Re:The web gives us all a voice (4, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179601)

Actually Sanger was a eugenics follower. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Sanger#Eugenics_and_euthanasia [wikipedia.org]

Not all good ideas must come from good intentions. Planned Parenthood, in its modern conception might be a good idea, but it was originated from bad ideas.

Sometimes it shocks me how ignorant most of my fellow Americans are of their negative history. This is especially true of eugenics. Hitler actually ADMIRED us, he wrote a letter to Woodrow Wilson claiming as much. It was a big, accepted deal before WWII put a sour flavor into our mouths.

I wish we remembered, since Darwinism is still misused to tragic ends. Socioeconomic Darwinism is still flaunted among the extreme libertarian/Randian /. crowd, even if it is a dire fallacy which lead to some serious negative consequences. those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

Re:The web gives us all a voice (2, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180089)

The Nazis used the well-kept journals of plantation owners in the Americas in formulating schedules for slave workers in rocket factories and elsewhere. By the end of the war the Germans were measuring how many calories in food and how many lives would be lost for each rocket made.

Re:The web gives us all a voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28180141)

cool story bro

Time for philosophers to take a stand. (4, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179311)

Let's have an international philosophers strike to protest. Let's bring this planet to it's knees!

Re:Time for philosophers to take a stand. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179619)

Just remember not to take them out to dinner or you'll just end up deadlocked.

Re:Time for philosophers to take a stand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179681)

"Might I make an observation at this point?" inquired Deep Thought.

"We'll go on strike!" yelled Vroomfondel.

"That's right!" agreed Majikthise. "You'll have a national Philosopher's strike on your hands!"

The hum level in the room suddenly increased as several ancillary bass driver units, mounted in sedately carved and varnished cabinet speakers around the room, cut in to give Deep Thought's voice a little more power.

"All I wanted to say," bellowed the computer, "is that my circuits are now irrevocably committed to calculating the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything -" he paused and satisfied himself that he now had everyone's attention, before continuing more quietly, "but the programme will take me a little while to run."

Fook glanced impatiently at his watch.

"How long?" he said.

"Seven and a half million years," said Deep Thought.

Lunkwill and Fook blinked at each other.

"Seven and a half million years ...!" they cried in chorus.

"Yes," declaimed Deep Thought, "I said I'd have to think about it, didn't I? And it occurs to me that running a programme like this is bound to create an enormous amount of popular publicity for the whole area of philosophy in general. Everyone's going to have their own theories about what answer I'm eventually to come up with, and who better to capitalize on that media market than you yourself? So long as you can keep disagreeing with each other violently enough and slagging each other off in the popular press, you can keep yourself on the gravy train for life. How does that sound?"

The two philosophers gaped at him.

"Bloody hell," said Majikthise, "now that is what I call thinking. Here Vroomfondel, why do we never think of things like that?" "Dunno," said Vroomfondel in an awed whisper, "think our brains must be too highly trained Majikthise."

Re:Time for philosophers to take a stand. (1)

andy.ruddock (821066) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179807)

And just who will that inconvenience?

Re:Time for philosophers to take a stand. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179993)

You got the joke!

Re:Time for philosophers to take a stand. (3, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179853)

"Isn't it odd? When a politician or a movie star retires, we read front page stories about it. But when a philosopher retires, people do not even notice it."
"They do, eventually." [wikiquote.org]

Re:Time for philosophers to take a stand. (1)

diablovision (83618) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179911)

This time, the grammarian's are with you's.

Philosophy of Mind (2, Interesting)

etymxris (121288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179339)

Cutting through the needless walls of text by both Sanchez and Brady, let me summarize the current state of the philosophy of mind:

1) We are little closer to reading off "beliefs" from human brains than we were 30 years ago.
2) Media often overgeneralizes the results of neuroscientists.
3) The brain is still nothing more than a mass of cells.
4) Religious people have a problem with (3).
5) Philosophers base their careers trying to argue for or against (3).
6) More specifically, philosophers think too highly of functionalism [wikipedia.org] .

I say this as a philosopher and not a scientist, but having studied these topics for a while, I have more respect for the scientists than the philosophers.

Re:Philosophy of Mind (0, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179811)

Cutting through the needless walls of text by both Sanchez and Brady, let me summarize the current state of the philosophy of mind:

1) We are little closer to reading off "beliefs" from human brains than we were 30 years ago.

In what sense is that "philosophy of mind"?

2) Media often overgeneralizes the results of neuroscientists.

You could have stopped at "2) Media often overgeneralizes"

3) The brain is still nothing more than a mass of cells.

True. Again, what's that got to do with the philosophy of mind?

4) Religious people have a problem with (3).

Which religious people? I don't know of any who have a problem with that. I know of some who have a problem with the identification of "mind" with "brain", but then I know lots of non-religious people who have the same problem so I'm not sure what you're getting at.

5) Philosophers base their careers trying to argue for or against (3).

Care to name any who do that? I don't know of any; (3) just isn't seen as a philosophical question.

6) More specifically, philosophers think too highly of functionalism [wikipedia.org]

Again, any philosophers in particular? Did you say something earlier about overgeneralisation?

I say this as a philosopher and not a scientist, but having studied these topics for a while, I have more respect for the scientists than the philosophers.

Since you've pretty much only cited science, and called it philosophy (except in (6) where you've overgeneralised) I think it's clear that you have more respect for the "scientists" than for the "philosophers", but what do you think "science" and "philosophy" actually are, and what do you think is their relationship? You seem to see them as rivals, which is odd...

Re:Philosophy of Mind (1)

etymxris (121288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179971)

I meant that religious people have a problem identifying mind and brain, and I meant to say that those two are pretty much identical.

The Churchlands espouse eliminativism, which is basically arguing for this identification. Most other philosophers in the subject argue against it. Most scientists studying the brain try to stay away from philosophy.

Wikipedia has done a fine job of listing authors seminal in functionalism [wikipedia.org] . Functionalism is central to contemporary philosophy of mind among analytic philosophers. Doing a complete survey of academic philosophers to somehow prove this would be difficult. But I'd be interested in hearing what topics are more central to modern analytic philosophy of mind. I'm not so clear on continental philosophers, but both the article and the one it's replying to are of the analytic tradition.

Most anthologies on philosophy of mind, such as this one [amazon.com] , are certainly concerned about the relationship between mind and brain. Looking at the table of contents of the previous anthology provides a glimpse at people who make their careers discussing such things. Of course, these are largely seminal authors, the people working in the field is much larger.

Re:Philosophy of Mind (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180279)

I meant that religious people have a problem identifying mind and brain, and I meant to say that those two are pretty much identical.

Ok, that's very different to what you wrote. I still don't think that's a specifically religious issue, though -- most notions of free-will seem to depend on some separation of mind and brain, and although I'm blowed if I can see how it could work, free-will is hardly an exclusively religious issue.

Functionalism is central to contemporary philosophy of mind among analytic philosophers.

But surely analytic philosophy has been in retreat since Popper?

Most anthologies on philosophy of mind, such as this one [amazon.com] , are certainly concerned about the relationship between mind and brain.

Quite. Which is why I was surprised you didn't mention it, but only addressed "brain"!

Re:Philosophy of Mind (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180063)

Physicalism [stanford.edu] in both the limited sense of identity theory and in a broader sense of the supervenience; and before that the reductionism, of Physicalism in regards to the philosophy of mind is an often broached topic nowadays.

Re:Philosophy of Mind (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28180069)

Which religious people? I don't know of any who have a problem with that.

Well, there are two possibilities.

  1. You don't know any religious people.
  2. Religious people don't want to sound like complete bumpkins by not acknowledging a biological reality. ("Oh, but then there's the soul," they go on.)

Re:Philosophy of Mind (3, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179813)

> 3) The brain is still nothing more than a mass of cells.

As a programmer, I must point out the obvious analogy: "the computer is still nothing more than a collection of transistors", and reply that if that were so, nobody would have to argue whether it is better to run Linux or Vista. Philosophers would do much better once they explicitly state that there is a difference between hardware and software, that they are, respectively, the brain and the mind, and that anyone trying to conflate the two is either a con man or an idiot.

Re:Philosophy of Mind (3, Interesting)

etymxris (121288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180009)

I realize very well what you're saying. That line of reasoning has been around, and readily acknowledged by philosophers, for over 50 years. The whole idea behind functionalism is categorizing the brain as "hardware" and mind as "software". I'm saying too much has been made of this distinction, however. Does this mean that computers will never "think" like humans do? No, not really. But the brain as forged by millions of years of evolution is very different than computational algorithms engineered in 100 or so years by humans. We should learn much more neuroscience before we starting where, if anywhere, can we find the dividing line between the brain's "hardware" and "software".

Re:Philosophy of Mind (3, Insightful)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180091)

You may want to be more specific. I don't think anyone really argues against (3). The issue isn't whether the brain is a mass of cells, but whether (3a) the mind is anything over and above that mass of cells. Both the physicalist and the dualist can accept (3), but they would vehemently disagree over (3a).

I'm not sure why you think philosophers think too highly of functionalism. It is a philosophy that works for many areas of interest. I personally don't think that functionalism fully captures all the relevant issues in the philosophy of mind, but there is still a coherent and compelling argument from that side. Functionalism can help the physicalist account for subjective experiences like qualia [wikipedia.org] .

I also don't think that it's fair to say that only religious people have a problem with (3) (or more precisely, my revised version, (3a); also, I'm aware you didn't say "only", but given the context, one would likely imply as such). I'm non-religious, but I tend to lean more towards the dualist position. Furthermore, the great empiricist David Hume [wikipedia.org] may have argued against a substantivalist immaterial mind, but given his other philosophical works, I think he would not necessarily disagree with a property dualist position.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that your post shows exactly the problem with which the article is concerned. Incomplete oversimplifications of the matters at hand will tend not to be very substantially rich. I'm sure you have arguments to support your positions, and I have little doubt that they will probably be good arguments, but because you have oversimplified your position, the arguments become weak and insubstantial. In fact, in previewing my own post, my own briefly extended arguments are very philosophically weak as well. The important questions are as follows: Is it possible to reduce philosophically (and perhaps scientifically) complex arguments to newspaper- or blog-sized articles without undermining the sophistication and nuances of such arguments? Is it possible to do so keeping in mind that the readers or consumers of such articles have little to no background information about the matters at hand?

I'm currently working on a side project about the ethics of information dissemination and this is exactly the type of question in which I am interested. Is it ethical for a journalist or blogger or what-have-you (hereafter collectively known as "journalist" for ease) to provide incomplete information? This question is somewhat less controversial, because a journalist's job is, basically, to summarize and disseminate. But is it ethical for a journalist to disseminate incomplete information in a way that disproportionately favours one set of arguments over others? For example, if a study shows that a certain compound that is richly found in food xyz is good for you but other studies show that food xyz taken as a whole is bad for you, is it ethical for the journalist just to mention the first study without mentioning the latter studies? We hear about such stories all the time in headlines such as "Red wine may increase your life span!" or "One aspirin a day may reduce risks of heart attacks!"

To tie it back to your post, was it ethical for you to simplify the issues so much so that it seems to disproportionately favour your conclusion? The article's worries are not unfounded, and your short and succinct post shows exactly why that is so.

I don't see the point in discussing this article. (5, Funny)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179375)

Discourse at this level can't possibly accomplish anything beyond giving us some simulation of justification for what we wanted to believe in the first place.

Re:I don't see the point in discussing this articl (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179405)

Bear plastic swim pen. Compact fire records handle, bottle papers giant sky on box fro and seventeen.

Re:I don't see the point in discussing this articl (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179723)

Right iron fold candle. Drift space walking killer down crane. Thistle cage sign white small. Half seek harbour bed with frame flat family hen. Castle help.

And this is all that is required anyway (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180029)

Have you ever seen anyone persuaded they are wrong? Bollocks. People only ever listen to reinforcing arguments.

 

new tag needed: verbalmasturbation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179401)

ok some random guy writes a piece of verbal masturbation because he can't stand people who have the ability express ideas in such a way that they can actually be understood by others, while clearly demonstrating that he put lots of effort into making sure that his text can't be understood unless by a marginally small & elite portion of society. But hot damn it made him feel great when he used all those sophysticated words!

Click. (4, Interesting)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179635)

But hot damn it made him feel great when he used all those sophysticated words!

I doubt it. To write with that level of ease and complexity, one needs to occupy the required head-space in earnest. Probably doesn't even notice he's doing it except on those rare occasions when he pulls back from the keyboard to pause for a breather and watch himself. And people, even the smart ones, rarely manage to do that more than a handful of times in any given life.

That, and the fact, (in my opinion anyway), he also happens to be right.

Not that it matters. For some reason everybody who thinks and writes seems to be perpetually concerned about what humanity ought to do about the state of humanity. The longer I live, the more I realize that the quest for societal justice is a fool's errand. Nobody can change anything no matter how hard they try, and the most amazing thing is that nobody realizes this astonishing truth. Change requires awareness, and machines are not aware. Almost all humans are machines. Even as I write this, I can hear the gears clicking in my skull, still on auto-pilot. And I've been working on this stuff.

-FL

Re:new tag needed: verbalmasturbation (5, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179721)

ok some random guy writes a piece of verbal masturbation because he can't stand people who have the ability express ideas in such a way that they can actually be understood by others, while clearly demonstrating that he put lots of effort into making sure that his text can't be understood unless by a marginally small & elite portion of society.

Thanks for mashing your fists on the keyboard. It was a valuable contribution that makes us all intellectually richer.

The expression of ideas in the media IS a big problem. Noam Chomsky (some random guy, don't worry about it) has made similar points on the pitfalls of brevity in the media. I have read articles in New Scientist by a scientist discussing how to debate with creationists, in a limited time frame, when they ask short pithy questions which require long answers to refute. It is a widely recognised problem which, to date, hasn't found a satisfactory solution.

The fact is, some things are too complicated to form an informed opinion on without graduate level study. It is OK to have elites. As someone with no medical training, I am very grateful that there are elite surgeons around to perform any procedures on me I might need in the future, rather than some bloke with 'common sense' who saw an episode of Casualty and reckons he can have a go at it.

But hot damn it made him feel great when he used all those sophysticated words!

Being able to spell 'sophisticated' is not a sign of being an intellectual elitist.

Re:new tag needed: verbalmasturbation (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179795)

But hot damn it made him feel great when he used all those sophysticated words!

Being able to spell 'sophisticated' is not a sign of being an intellectual elitist.

You might want to check your sarcasm meter. It seems to be malfunctioning.

Re:new tag needed: verbalmasturbation (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180205)

I don't believe the AC in question has the capacity for sarcasm. In any case, it wasn't funny at all.

Short summary (1)

oneplus999 (907816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179441)

What might be more helpful, at least in some instances, is ...[n]ot âoethe case for policy Aâ vs âoethe case for policy Bâ but âoethe epistemic problems that make it hard to choose between A and B,â as though (I know, itâ(TM)s crazy) the search for truth were more than a punch-up between mutually exclusive, preestablished conclusions. The message is not (to coin a phrase) âoewe report, you decideâ but âoewe report on why youâ(TM)re not actually competent to decide, unless youâ(TM)re prepared to devote a hell of a lot more time, energy, and thought to it.â

Thought I'd do a short summary of his argument by just presenting the results... now you have everything you need to know to discuss this subject! No need to rtfa.

I know better (3, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179449)

The guy reckons that people who know least about a complex subject generally think that its simple and that they know a lot about it, whereas experts know that there are many complexities and know that their knowledge is limited.

Bah, rubbish - what does he know about it?

Re:I know better (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179931)

The problem is always that we're presented a boolean decision for a complex, multi-variable problem. Are you for or against? Are you on our side or their side? Even if you try to present a more complicated argument, people will still bring you down to the level of "for/against".

In reality, we don't do things this way. I almost never make decisions by completely rejecting the options I don't take. Good opinions are more nuanced than that. Even if I need to make a choice, often I'll make it with caveats. I bought a car recently, but I there's a lot of reasons I like trucks and SUVs too.

In this world of pop philosophy, you can only have one opinion, and it has to be absolute and filled with contradictions. There's never a third option. Even if you have a third point of view, you'll be pidgeonholed into established viewpoints

A good counter-example, a lot of Ron Paul supporters during the election had Obama as their second choice. Dogmatic people would consider it a contradiction. "YOU CHOOSE EITHER DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN!", but his supporters had a different point of view entirely.

Schools. (2, Insightful)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179455)

There are things to be said about people being able to be stupid. You can't force intelligence on people (except when they're teachable.)

If you want people to be intelligent, go into politics and try to change the system. Chances are: you'll be pressured into not doing it. The system is skewed against the educational sector; and the pay that teachers get reflects that.

Investment in America's future as an intellectual powerhouse is limited at best. Public schools generally teach people enough to -get by-, and not to really understand what's around them. It's only every once in a while that you see a public school that really teaches things like philosophical ethics.

Over-simplistic arguments are the natural result of people who want to be intellectual about things (while doing so with limited knowledge.) If you want them to have more concrete arguments, they have to expand their knowledge. Granted, some people just don't want that, but the vast majority of people wouldn't mind getting it if it was presented to them.

"Because they said so" isn't good enough when it comes to thinking for yourself.

Re:Schools. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179617)

The problem isn't teacher pay. The problem is a system that considers teaching to be a "profession" and gives every lousy teacher tenure simply because they managed to not get fired for three years.

Re:Schools. (1)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179819)

Just to clarify, so we're on the same page, I'm talking about the public school system. Colleges and such have it better.

Why should any reasonably intelligent person teach? Most people know that there's only barely enough to pay the bills in it. After all, if they can apply themselves in a way that is more fulfilling, teaching is like a "last resort" kind of thing.

We ultimately end up with more and more mediocrity just because of our complacency to their needs. Half-baked ideas are taught in school because that's what put the teachers themselves there.

Tenure isn't a problem here; it's a system that works well enough. The problem is we're seeing the negative aspects a system where you're getting out what you put in; pitting mediocrity against mediocrity is no surprise, just as pitting excellence against mediocrity is no surprise.

If you want intelligent people to teach, then pay them as such. Raise the bar, and don't accept mediocrity just because it's all you can find. Raise it socially as well, so that the teachers aren't just glorified babysitters.

Other countries fare better than ours, because their standards are higher. Is that such a big surprise?

So what he's basically saying is... (5, Funny)

lanceblack (969852) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179459)

oversimplifying is bad?

Re:So what he's basically saying is... (1)

findoutmoretoday (1475299) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179575)

<quote>oversimplifying is bad?</quote>

Well said.  And according to Ockham even that is not always true: Better a simple mistake than a brilliant error.

Anyone remember slashdot when the matrix came out? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179561)

People thought it had some sort of incredible new, deep, and meaningful philosophy when it was just a rip off of the first few pages of "Critique of Pure Reason" from the 1700s by Kant? It's sort of the same way with politics, too. On Slashdot--actually, anywhere--people like to think they are exempt from ignorance.

Re:Anyone remember slashdot when the matrix came o (1)

KingOfGod (884633) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179713)

You should interpret that as people like to be exposed to deep and meaningful philosophies, even when they're just a reinterpretation of an old idea.

It's not that you're wrong... (5, Insightful)

Talisman (39902) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179563)

"Discourse at this level can't possibly accomplish anything beyond giving people some simulation of justification for what they wanted to believe in the first place."

The problem I've found, even since my first debate class in 10th grade, is that the vast majority of people have no interest in what the 'right' answer is. They only care that their perspective is correct, and if an inconvenient counterpoint is presented, they discount, rail against, or outright ignore it.

In addition to this, the people presenting the counterpoints often do it in such a condescending manner, any slim hope there was of the other person considering an alternate viewpoint is evaporated in a blast of indignation.

The most productive problem solving I've ever done, and still do, is when I'm surrounded by smart people who don't believe their personal ego should factor into any decision made. We sit down at a table, drink lots of coffee, joke around, and at the end of the day, have solved most of our problems in elegant, efficient ways. We even laugh at our own dumb ideas when we've overlooked something that should have been obvious. I've also been in groups where you are crucified for uttering something that isn't completely accurate. This environment simply leads to a large amount of CYA, because once a person commits to the decision, he then MUST follow through, even if later he realizes it wasn't the best choice, because the environment he's working in is completely unforgiving. Basically if he admits there was a better option, it costs him his job. It's best to not have that type of fear, because no matter how hard you are on people, they will still make mistakes, even the brilliant ones.

The same holds true for personal philosophies; solving the problems that being alive presents. When you are listening to other people, you should actually listen to them. Try to see things their way. Don't bash them, even if you disagree. It doesn't hurt. It can often help. And when you're presenting a counterpoint, be genteel about it. Tact goes a very long way.

The Dude said it best, "You're not wrong, Walter. You're just an ASSHOLE!"

Re:It's not that you're wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179727)

"...when I'm surrounded by smart people who don't believe their personal ego should factor into any decision made. "

What are you doing on slashdot you insensitive clod!

I Like the Sentiment, But ... (3, Insightful)

dplentini (1334979) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179577)

I like the quote on Slashdot, but reading his blog I get the sense that he actively practices what he preaches against. Reducing people and complex issues to simplistic (and usually undefined) categories is the heart of the oversimplification that Sanchez laments. We don't need more fights over how to name our problems; we need to understand them, which means we need to understand our selves.

Philosophy like this *is* an OWHA (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179579)

The One Way Hash Argument notion applies to Philosophy itself.

Sure, a communicator may exploit the audience's lack of expertise so that the audience, overwhelmed, agrees without understanding whether any of it is right or wrong. Boo hoo.

The chance of a long, self-absorbed philosophical tract boiling down to a rather bland-looking lump of food is very high. OWHA may well trigger a reflex that people have evolved to deal with those thinkers among them who can cook all day but end up serving a spoonful of gruel late in the evening. "By the gods, I could have been hunting all this time instead of listening to Conan The Orator."

OWHA is a useful onomatopoeia for my reaction. (o;

Ignorance more freely begets confidence... (2, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179583)

than does knowledge.

Speaking of science, I've noticed for a while now that it's certainly true that many, probably most, religious non-scientists get their facts wrong about scientific theories, but it's equally true that most atheists have at best a shallow understanding of theology. In fact, I'm being charitable on that point, as most atheists I've met are either laughably ignorant of even the most basic theology or will refuse to discuss theology on a level more complex than one dumbed down for a small child or a person with Down's Syndrome.

At the same time, however, we need to be careful of high falutin arguments in a lot of fields. Occam's razor often becomes "Occam's chainsaw" in Philosophy, Political Science and Sociology. The real sciences are necessarily complex because they are dealing with an inherently complex subject that is only specialized because that is convenient for humans. In most fields, when you get into equal levels of complexity, you often find that that complexity is man-made, not inherent to the issue(s).

Re:Ignorance more freely begets confidence... (1, Flamebait)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179651)

Theology is useless. There is nothing to discus about religious matters. There's no magical zombie jesus, allah or whatever. It would be better to stop talking about religion all together.
No one should educate themselves about any religion. There is nothing of value to learn. You can learn about ethics without the mindfuck that religion is.

Re:Ignorance more freely begets confidence... (1, Flamebait)

stjobe (78285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179985)

You can learn about ethics without the mindfuck that religion is.

Quoted For Truth.

Re:Ignorance more freely begets confidence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28180093)

How can you say something is false without knowing anything about it?

Re:Ignorance more freely begets confidence... (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180277)

Well, they just believe they're right, see.

Re:Ignorance more freely begets confidence... (1)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180119)

Theology is not religion and is certainly not about any specific deity like Zombie Jesus(TM) or Allah.

Whether you like it or not, we humans are spiritual beings, and people like you who deny that aspect of themselves are not really living their lives to the fullest. Spirituality is not about worshiping Gods in some ritualistic way prescribed by religious form, although it can be that too. It is more about you being awestruck by "simple" questions like why are we here, what is my purpose here if I have any at all, where did we come from, where are we going, etc.

By the way all world religions offer answers to these questions, but are by no means the only answers one can give. One could be scientific about it, and try to answer these question from that perspective, but that kind of analysis usually leaves us cold, feeling small, and somewhat unfulfilled.

Re:Ignorance more freely begets confidence... (0, Flamebait)

domatic (1128127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180247)

Theology is not religion and is certainly not about any specific deity like Zombie Jesus(TM) or Allah.
.
.
.
By the way all world religions offer answers to these questions, but are by no means the only answers one can give. One could be scientific about it, and try to answer these question from that perspective, but that kind of analysis usually leaves us cold, feeling small, and somewhat unfulfilled.

Yeah. Yeah. Tell me more about this version of Jesus who casts about the landscape on a quest for succulent brains whilst preaching the love of his father.

Re:Ignorance more freely begets confidence... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179977)

Ignorance more freely begets confidence ... than does knowledge.

I think you're on the right track. I think that knowledge begets wisdom, which begets caution. In the process of gaining rigorous knowledge, most people's horizons are inevitably challenged, and their intuition is inevitably proved fallible. This is a facet of wisdom, if ancient pop philosopher Aristotle is to be believed.

And Fizzl's comment is pretty damn funny after hearing about ignorance from atheists. :)

Re:Ignorance more freely begets confidence... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180095)

If you throw out divinity as a premise, what theological concepts demand subtlety?

What has this got to do with IT ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179625)

I was holding off, giving slashdot the benefit of the doubt, but what does this story really have to do with IT ? Because he mentions blogs ? I don't get it. I've been seeing an increasing amount of stories with a political / sociological bent. Nothing wrong with that, but they don't seem to belong on slashdot.

Is it just me ?

Re:What has this got to do with IT ? (5, Insightful)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179685)

Yes it is just you. Slashdot is 'News For Nerds'. Not 'News for IT Professionals', or 'News for Computer Science Graduates'. The article's subject has relevance to Slashdot readers, because many of us are well versed in a particular field, and hate it when the media or pundits use a simple argument to convince lay-people of something which is flat out wrong.

Re:What has this got to do with IT ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179955)

Sadly, I am not so well versed in the field of "pointlessly verbose verbiage that makes your writing excessively hard to read and your points difficult to identify". The most I can accomplish with regard to bloated wording is adding "fuck" and derived forms thereof everywhere. And even then only when I'm angry. :(

Simplify (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179633)

As the summary itself is filled with enough verbal "simulation" for all ages, I hereby simply declare this article total "wank".

Cowards (2, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179675)

If he wants see some over simplification here it is.

There is good, bar, right, and wrong in this world. While not everything is that simply, perhaps not even most things people like him to see nothing but shades of gray everywhere even when their are none. Usually this is because they are afraid to stand up and do the right thing because it might make someone mad, start a war, or God forbid make them appear intolerant.

I for am sick of people like this guy who bring us all this Politically Correct nonsense, which does nothing other than serve to confuse otherwise good people and prevent us from making the choices, which might be hard ones, but we are ultimately required if we care about living in a just world and possibly even our very survival.

Their language may not be classy and they might want for some temperance and timing but at least the unruly mob of bloggers shows a little courage. I would much much rather many of those be our leaders than the lot of sycophants and manikins we have.

Re:Cowards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28180207)

There is a fine line between courage and stupidity.

Guess which side you're on.

As a side note (4, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28179683)

Here's something interesting:

Following a link from the first article we get:

The Dunning-Kruger Effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect [wikipedia.org]

which in turn leads us to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crank_(person)#The_psychology_of_cranks [wikipedia.org]

which pretty much explains the logic behind at least 10% of the posts here in Slashdot.

Colour yourself lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179737)

Most of the time it's actually the philosophers who try obscure things that are plain as day to normal people in layers of obscurantism, obfuscation and sometimes downright lying. But you have it easy, because at least you can scoff at those people because they are barbarians without degrees whereas they have no such recourse. So I don't see what you are complaining about.

I've heard this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28179921)

As we know, There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know There are known unknowns. That is to say We know there are some things We do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, The ones we don't know We don't know.

Slippery slopes (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180145)

This is a good moment to mention. Doesn't the slippery slope deserves more respect?

I mean, I understand that logically it does not follow that taking some steps towards an undesirable result necessarily mean we will go all the way to that undesirable result. But wouldn't you say that, under some conditions, it can be useful as an heuristic criteria?

Re:Slippery slopes (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180257)

You have hit on the true problem here: "logically it does not follow..." The problem (at least in US society) is that people do not have a fundamental understanding of basic logic, so anything scientific or philosophical has no foundation on which to stand.

The first thing to address in order to help "society at large" deal with "tough issues" is to first get them to understand simple logic, which I think this audience appreciates. The thing which disturbs me most about modern thought is that, at least in popular culture, there is no such thing as 'true' and 'false'. If there is no such thing, then there is no sense even discussing science or philosophy, because those things are dedicated to understanding truth.

My assertion comes from the observation that most people (you have to go outside /. for "most"; this audience is sadly in the minority) disagree with the statement that there are such things as mutually exclusive ideas. Consider the politically popular idea of tolerance. This means at its core accepting multiple possibly conflicting ideas as valid (actually it's worse than that, it says that any idea which claims exclusivity is inherently invalid - which amuses me because it is a statement of exclusivity itself).

Anyway, I ramble: suffice it to say, all discussions of science and philosophy without a first discussion on "what happened to logic?" are all doomed to failure.

Hey, man... (3, Funny)

Ignatius D'Lusional (1010911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180147)

Y'know, like... I didn't read the whole article or nothin' but, like... I gotta say that my best philosophical arguments happen while smoking hash, man. So, like... I don't know what this guy's got against hash, be it "one-way" or another but like... oh wait. I forgot what I was saying. Oh well... now where the hell did I put the Doritos?

Climate Change is a classic appeal to authority (2, Insightful)

msevior (145103) | more than 5 years ago | (#28180261)

I'm a Physicist but essentially I have to demure to the Climate Modelling experts too.

At first glance it appears that the extra CO2 in the atmosphere will make very little difference to the global temperature.

Why? Well the best models predict an effective increase of 1-2 watts per/m^2 of energy directed back to Eath from the addition CO2.

On the other hand the amount of power radiated into space from the Earth is to first approximation, given by the Steffan-Boltzmann equation.

Power = sigma*T^4

Where T is the Earth's temperature in Kelvin ~ 283 C.

The T^4 means you get a lot of extra radiated power for a very little increase in temperature. Roughly a 0.3 degree increase in temperature for a doubling of the CO2 levels.

To get the 3 - 7 degree increases predicted, you need a really big positive feedback effect from additional water vapour. But additional water vapour also provides clouds which either increase the amount of power reflected back into space or increase the greenhouse effect, depending on where they form.

It's a really complicated problem.

So one can only hope that the authorities have got it right.

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