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Talk:The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

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This Skepticism related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

Editorial notes
  • This should really be a starting point for anyone just starting out in skepticism.

Something that just struck me about the "this machine is designed, therefore anything complex is designed" argument is that most complex items that the IDiots point to as proof of design themselves went through many developmental stages. The engine in a modern car, for instance, doesn't resemble all that closely the engine in Henry Ford's Model T, and that in turn is quite different from the steam engines which preceded it. New things have been tried through the "generations", some of which have worked and been incorporated, replacing older parts no longer relevant, some have been unsuccessful and abandoned. In fact, many different "species" have grown as specialization has become necessary, and the engine parts of an electric golf cart, for instance, cannot be swapped for those of a high-performance Ferrari.

In a way, this means that far from supporting ID, the automobile engine is a wonderful metaphor for evolution! --Kels 10:52, 24 June 2007 (CDT)

That's just microevolution though. Many of them don't argue with microevolution, rather they would contend that someone initially built a working engine, and that was the "abiogenesis" of the motor. The argument is the same for ID, God creates a number of baramin, that then microevolved down to what we know now. At least, I don't think I'm misrepresenting their beliefs here, but you never know with them wiley ID people. --Eira yay! 15:21, 16 December 2007 (EST)

New category[edit]

I'm thinking of using this as a starting point for a new category, "Evaluating Arguments." There should be an entry in RW for each type of rhetorical fallacy, such as ad hominem. Also there are other rhetorical fallacies (see Hodeges' Harbrace Handbook, a guide for many colleges for their English 101 courses, for example), which could be included. There should be entries for logic (such as syllogism, deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning). This is a long term goal of mine--I'm a little busy in the real world right now. But feel free to contribute! ŠтΈṜȳŁЁand...? 08:41, 9 July 2007 (CDT)


Shouldn't the Latin phrases be italicised? IE, non sequitur... humanbe in 16:09, 23 August 2007 (CDT)

I padded the cells a bit to look better. anyone know how to do valign=top in a wikitable? humanUser talk:Human 21:32, 15 November 2007 (EST)

Ah, yes, about the italics, but they don't seem to work in the HTML table. The whole thing should be converted to the side-by-side template at some point.... VirileSterileyawn! 22:15, 15 November 2007 (EST)

Statistical Math[edit]

I noticed:

And it should be 1.5: 2C/1L x 1C/3L = 1/1.5L

Unfortunately, that math doesn't stack up either. In order to have a correct answer, you would need to solve for x: (2:1) = (1:3)x

In that case, the math stacks up for Conservapedia. Multiplying ratios to get "bigger than" or whatever, doesn't really make a lot of sense, unless you can back it up with some better math. --Eira yay! 15:48, 16 December 2007 (EST)

Ok, after a lot of math work here. It's best to compare the liberals to the liberals in order to find out "how much more" liberal wikipedia is than the general population. This means we need to turn the ratios into liberals per person. Thus we get 1 liberal per 3 people for the general population, and 3 liberals per 4 people for the wikipedia population.
Now, in order to start from a population that is equal in ratio to the general population, then by only adding people, to make the ratio the same as the wikipedia population, we need to solve:
\frac{1l + xl}{2c +1l + xl}=\frac{3l}{3l+1c}
(1l+xl)(3l+1c) = 3l(2c+1l+xl)
3l^2+cl+3xl^2+xcl = 6cl+3l^2+3xl^2
3xl^2+ xcl - 3xl^2 = 6cl + 3l^2- 3l^2 - cl
x(3l^2 + cl - 3l^2) = (6 - 1)cl + (3-3)l^2
x(cl + (3 - 3)l^2) = 5cl + 0l^2
x(cl + 0l^2) = 5cl
xcl = 5cl
x = \frac{5cl}{cl}
x = \frac{5}{1}
Thus the answer is that wikipedia is 5 times more liberal. While it would be true to say that the value of the ratio of liberal to conservative on Wikipedia is 6 times the value of the ratio of liberal to conservative in the general population. However, it is not "6 times more liberal", because you already had a unit of liberal already. So, it's only 5 times more liberal. --Eira yay! 17:38, 16 December 2007 (EST)

Proposed rewrite[edit]

I've redone some reformatting (HTML tables to allow italics and re-refs) here, with no change to the content. Comments? Sterilexx 14:10, 23 January 2008 (EST)

From what I can see, you aligned to the top of the cells (good form) and fixed the refstyle? Looks fine to me. humanUser talk:Human 15:27, 23 January 2008 (EST)

Proposed Additions[edit]

Would things like certain cognitive biases be also appropriate for this section? Some things like confirmation bias are some of the most powerful ways that people "prove" their beliefs to others and themselves and is actually difficult to see if one is not looking for it. I'm new here, so I don't know if this has been done before or if there is another section (couldn't find it.) What do you all think? Obsidian (talk) 19:19, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

I think the trouble with that might be that this is essentially a book review - the table lists things Sagan brings up, as far as I can tell. A "see also" or several would be very appropriate, though. Do we have confirmation bias? Yes, we do. That might be a better place to bring up Sagan's topic and expand on it? ħumanUser talk:Human 20:57, 17 October 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for the link there, I feel like an idiot for not finding it in the first place. I also feel rather dumb not realizing that this was a book review for Sagan. Thanks for the prompt correction, and not getting mad at me for being so dumb here :). I would most definitely agree that more "see also" links would be more appropriate, and will add those. Thanks for the patience :) Obsidian (talk) 21:46, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

average or median[edit]

the article says 'Astonishment when confronted with the fact that half of all people have an IQ below 100, a value that was defined as average in the first place.'

Shouldn't that be 'defined as the median in the first place'

Yes or meh, depending on your view. If pedantic and to avoid ambiguity, then yes, certainly it should say "median". But "average" can refer to median and mean, as both are measures of what we call average, and in most common parlance they refer to both. I think it's only really bad maths teachers who have convinced people that "average" refers exclusively to arithmetic mean... anyway, IQ assumes a normal distribution where median and mean are the same, so it matters relatively little in either case. But sure, change it for the sake of ambiguity. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 12:24, 3 October 2013 (UTC)

We got a Shout-Out from NBC News[edit]

Sorry if this was already mentioned somewhere else. --Seth Peck (talk) 21:36, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

I've "mentioned" it. Scream!! (talk) 21:55, 10 October 2013 (UTC)