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Todd C. Riniolo - When Good Thinking Goes Bad
Posted: 26 October 2008 07:41 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Todd C. Riniolo is an associate professor of psychology at Medaille College. He has written many peer-reviewed articles in the psychological literature.

In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Todd Riniolo discusses his book When Good Thinking Goes Bad: How Your Brain Can Have a Mind of Its Own, exploring ways that critical thinking should be applied to people’s cherished and most certainly felt convictions. He discusses common cognitive, social and emotional biases people have when arriving at conclusions about the supernatural and paranormal, politics and economics, and how critical thinking is often applied inconsistently in these areas. He also focuses his skepticism on issues such as global warming and multiculturalism.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org

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Posted: 26 October 2008 10:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I had a psychology textbook in college that said, “intelligence is what intelligence tests measure.”  That seemed some rather stupidly circular reasoning to me.  LOL

Can we trust psychologists with thinking?

psik

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Posted: 27 October 2008 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I had a psychology textbook in college that said, “intelligence is what intelligence tests measure.” That seemed some rather stupidly circular reasoning to me.

Yes, I have read that statement also. It is not circular reasoning—it is a statement of the limitations of our understanding. Perhaps its point would have been clearer had it been “what we refer to as ‘intelligence’ in psychology is nothing more than what intelligence tests measure”.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Chris Crawford - 27 October 2008 08:26 AM

I had a psychology textbook in college that said, “intelligence is what intelligence tests measure.” That seemed some rather stupidly circular reasoning to me.

Yes, I have read that statement also. It is not circular reasoning—it is a statement of the limitations of our understanding. Perhaps its point would have been clearer had it been “what we refer to as ‘intelligence’ in psychology is nothing more than what intelligence tests measure”.

Consider this approach. Intelligence is knowledge (the existence of physical existence) conceptualized.

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When I see it, I know that.

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Posted: 27 October 2008 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Consider this approach. Intelligence is knowledge (the existence of physical existence) conceptualized.

Good philosophy, bad psychology. Psychologists need a formal definition of intelligence, just as what physicists call “energy” isn’t the same as what most people take it to mean.

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Posted: 28 October 2008 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thanks for the interview.  I think the point about people having strong convictions towards one point of view or another is especially noticable in todays political climate.  It is far to easy to stump a motivated proponent of various positions by simply asking their reasons for taking that position.  I think there is an important connection here between the evolution of branding.  Issues are branded in package deals without questions.  I suspect that if issues were selected ale-carte, people would need to do more individual research.


p.s. This individual research would in turn fuel, economically, a research hierarchy - science.

[ Edited: 28 October 2008 01:37 PM by retrospy ]
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Posted: 28 October 2008 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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On this show, Todd C. Riniolo, at about 15:11, makes the following statements:

The warmest year on record was 1998. At the end of this year, unless there’s a major ecological catastrophe it’s going to be a decade of non-warming. How many more years will it take before we say the warming has stopped?

The assumption, that the earth has not been warming since 1998, is based on a misunderstanding of trends.
It’s been debunked here:
http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/04/warming-stopped-in-1998.php
and many other places.

Although I offer only 1 link (in case there is spam detection used here) the following items can be transformed into links by changing ‘hattp’ to ‘http’ :
hattp://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/07/global-trends-and-enso/
hattp://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/06/ocean-heat-content-revisions/
hattp://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/giss-ncdc-hadcru/

All offer additional evidence that warming has continued since 1998.

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Posted: 28 October 2008 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Hmm, there’s some merit in his urging to critically evaluate topics like global warming. And yet, I think that, if you are an atheist, it’s inconsistent to both defend evolution and deny anthropogenic global warming, because there is a convergence of evidence from various fields pointing in favor of both, even if evolution has been more rigorously tested than global warming.

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Posted: 28 October 2008 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Welcome to the site, llewelly, and thanks for that clarification. Yes, I also found it a bit odd that someone so interested in science and skepticism would question something clearly so far out of his field of expertise, and with such questionable arguments. Although agreed with Cyris that it’s always good to be skeptical, in this case there is a clear consensus of scientific opinion on the matter.

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Posted: 28 October 2008 03:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I love that Todd Riniolo talks about making statements outside of expertise and to look into subjects and prove yourself wrong. In the very same interview he says that evolution can be directly linked to eugenics, and that global warming stopped in 1998. Come on, that’s a high level of ignorance and lack of critical thinking, he’s taking second hand arguments from pretty shady places.

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Posted: 28 October 2008 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Is Todd C. Riniolo advocating only using first hand scientific sources to form any opinion? It seems unrealistic. He also talks about scientists being the more vulnerable group when it comes to “good thinking going bad”. Is he just talking about being aware of one’s prejudices?

[ Edited: 28 October 2008 05:32 PM by AnaB ]
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Posted: 29 October 2008 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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After hearing Todd Riniolo talking about eugenics, I began to hoist my skeptical eyebrow but then when he made the comment about global warming stopping in 1998 “since that was the warmest year on record”, I burst out laughing.  Talk about not understanding what you are talking about!  Not only is that warming data flawed as noted elsewhere, but the fact that he appears to think that because the last year was not the warmest year global warming has stopped, indicates that he does not have a very good understanding of natural systems, noise, statistics 101, etc.  Too bad he did not take his advice in the first third of the book.  I was enjoying the discussion earlier in the podcast and was even considering getting his book, however, when these comments popped up, that line of thinking quickly came to an end.  I don’t mind if folks want to argue global warming based on reasonable assessments and opinions based on the evidence and a decent background in how things work, however, rudimentary errors like this instantly make me think “crank”.  Hopefully that is not just confirmation bias on my part!

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Posted: 29 October 2008 02:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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If taken at face value, Mr. Riniolo’s message raises one big question which was not really discussed in the interview: is it possible for anyone to be objective or clear-thinking? If trained scientists fare no better than joe shmoe then doesn’t that make striving for objectivity a pointless game? Seems like you can’t get there from here, and here = humanity.

Maybe I should be skeptical and not take it at face value, but then maybe being skeptical isn’t possible. I’d be skeptical of my last sentence, if it were possible.

Calling out the laity for insufficient homework-doing on global warming is facile and unfair. Many experts have said the data is so complex and difficult to analyze that they do not have a solid grip on it- how the hell am I supposed to? How ‘bout we get people to stop burning witches first, and next try to school them about global warming? Witch warming seems a grander lapse of skepticism.

If any of you disagree with me, I know its because you are confirming your existing biases against me and not because I am wrong. Replying with criticism would only waste time and prove the point.

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Posted: 29 October 2008 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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His comments about Global Warming made me sit up and take notice.  He said he would change his view if evidence came in but using the “1998 was the warmest year” comment seemed off base.

According to NASA, 1998 was the warmest year until 2005 which is now the current record holder:
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/2005_warmest.html

The top five hottest years in history are:

1. 2005
2. 1998
3. 2002
4. 2003
5. 2004

It seems to me that when you’re evaluating a complex issue like this, you do a great disservice by singling out a single data point.  Riniolo tried to make that very point so I don’t understand what is happening here when he apparently did just what he cautioned against.  Worse, this data isn’t new and it isn’t hard to find.  Why hadn’t he taken this into consideration?

Has anyone read his book and can shed some light on this?  Is it just a bad quote in an interview or is something bigger going on?

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Posted: 29 October 2008 05:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Adrian, he’d still be wrong even if 1998 were the hottest year in history. In this kind of analysis, you plot all the data points (average annual global temperatures against year) and then you draw a best fit line through the whole set of numbers. You don’t draw it herky-jerky from one data point to the next—you pick the best fit line (depending upon the circumstances and the hypothesis you’re testing, you might want to use something other than a line, but that’s not the case here.) When you draw a best fit line through all the data points from 1750 to today, it definitely goes up!

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Posted: 29 October 2008 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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adrian - 29 October 2008 04:26 PM

Riniolo tried to make that very point so I don’t understand what is happening here when he apparently did just what he cautioned against.

Maybe the psychologist is playing mind games with us…  cool hmm

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