Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ring Around the Rosie

Jamal Munshi, Sonoma State University

Date Written: February 26, 2018


A literature review shows that the circular reasoning fallacy is common in climate change research. It is facilitated by confirmation bias and by activism such that the prior conviction of researchers is subsumed into the methodology. Example research papers on the impact of fossil fuel emissions on tropical cyclones, on sea level rise, and on the carbon cycle demonstrate that the conclusions drawn by researchers about their anthropogenic cause derive from circular reasoning. The validity of the anthropogenic nature of global warming and climate change and that of the effectiveness of proposed measures for climate action may therefore be questioned solely on this basis.

Keywords: : logical fallacy, circular reasoning, model validation, data analysis, mathematical models, learning set, test set, climate change, global warming, field data, statistics, scientific method
The whole paper can be downloaded at the site or here.

Circular reasoning is probably more common in scientific literature than one thinks. It's pretty easy to assume you're right, base your study on that, and find data to support it, especially in biology.

I would direct you in particular to the final example of the paper concerning carbon flows, that suggest, when considering the measurement errors, we cannot be certain where the added carbon coming into the atmosphere is actually coming from. When the fluxes between biosphere, atmosphere and ocean are on the order of a order of magnitudes greater than the fossil fuel flux, this is a reasonable conjecture.

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