Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Would Cothran wear a coat inside a freezer?

Over at Vital Remnants, Martin Cothran has some fun (because, he is so very seldom serious) sneering at Josh Rosenau's comprehension of English, with gems like
Rosenau is not familiar with Latin, of course, but that is not really his problem. His problem is that he doesn't seem to understand English too well.
I've mentioned before that, for an instructor in logic, Mr. Cothran is rather incompetent at it. It turns out his English is not nearly sufficient to warrant his casting of dispersion on other posters, or maybe it's his grade-school-level-science that is lacking. I would hate to prejudge on that score, as Mr. Cothran is ignorant in so many areas that I would not presume to pick just one. More below the fold.

Later on in the same post, he presents

I had pointed out the record level of snowfalls (something Global Warming advocates said there would be less of because of Global Warming--when they're not saying the complete opposite) and I pointed it out as a subtle way of mocking their own process only using opposite evidence. And when the Warmers began lecturing me about weather not being the same thing as climate, I simply pointed out that if it wasn't for me, then it shouldn't be for them.
So let me put the implicit argument of my post in the form of a logical syllogism (And I should probably issue a warning, in doing so, about the possibility that Rosenau might once again try to imitate this exercise himself on his own blog with the usual amusing results):

  • If individual warm weather events are confirming evidence for Global Warming, then individual cool weather events are disconfirming evidence for Global Warming

  • But cool weather events are not disconfirming evidence for Global Warming

  • Therefore, individual warm weather events are not confirming evidence for Global Warming.

  • Now this is not tu quoque argumentation, it is the logical process called modus tollens. But then we are speaking Latin again, aren't we? To someone who doesn't know Latin--or logic.

    Notice the slide from "the record level of snowfalls" to "individual cool weather events"? However, it snows regularly during individual warm-weather events in places like Nome (where even a warm winter day can be well below freezing), while I certainly experienced a few cold-weather events this year with no snow at all falling from the sky. The phenomena are distinct, and treating record snowfalls as indicative of cold weather is a non sequitur. Of course, that's a Latin phrase, so Cothran can obviously translate it. Unfortunately, he apparently does not understand its importance to logical thinking.

    So, here's an example to help him out. I'd suggest he get a job at any local fast-food or convenience store (I believe he can stretch his intellectual capabilities that far) and stand in the freezer in the back (say, unloading the weekly shipment). It will not snow inside the freezer, I positively guarantee it. So, according to Cothran-logic, it can't be cold. How long will he be willing to stay in there without a coat?

    Of course, this type of confusion is typical of the denialists, pretending that one sort of event is really another.

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