Possible dinner table discussion catalyst with kids home for the holidays

<p>If you're like me, you look forward to having your college age children back home for the holidays and the inevitable dinner conversations on what they're learning at school.</p>

<p>I often use these conversations in the spirit</a> of Socrates to gauge for myself how their critical thinking skills are developing.</p>

<p>The article entitled, 'What’s</a> Going on Behind the Curtain? Climategate 2.0 and Scientific Integrity', caught my eye as a good dinner discussion catalyst on critical thinking, the scientific method and how it relates to a very topical debate we're having in society. </p>

<p>You may find this of use as well. From the article:</p>

...[O]ne must first understand what science is and how it is supposed to operate. Science is the noble pursuit of knowledge through observation, testing and experimentation. Scientists attempt to explain, describe and/or predict the implications of phenomena through the use of the scientific method. </p>

<p>The scientific method consists in gaining knowledge or explanatory power through a process. Progress is made in science by proposing a hypothesis, and developing a theory to explain or understand certain phenomena, and then testing the hypothesis against reality. A particular hypothesis is considered superior to others when, through testing, it is shown to have more explanatory power than competing theories or hypotheses and when other scientists running the same testing regime can reproduce the results of the original test. Every theory or hypothesis must be disconfirmable in principle, which means that, if the theory predicts that "A" will occur under certain conditions, but instead, "B" and sometimes "C" result, then the theory has problems. The more a hypothesis's predictions prove inconsistent with or are diametrically opposed to the results that occur during testing, the less likely the hypothesis is to be correct...


<p>Enjoy your burgeoning young minds as they're home for the holidays.</p>

<p>wonderful website! thanks for the link!</p>

<p>a couple of movies which will probably generate meaningful conversation: "i am" (i forget the director's name...) and "serving life" (directors are forest whitaker and a woman whose last name is cohen).</p>

<p>Wow, do I feel like Slacker Parent! It never occurred to me to use family holiday dinners as a venue for evaluating D's critical thinking skills -- I figure that's what I'm paying her college to do. </p>

<p>My interest in her is much more pedestrian, basically what she and her friends have been up to. I've learned to ask questions that include the implied "... and why?", like "Which was your favorite piece in your Photo class?" or "Who's the best cook in your house?" or "What are the top contenders for your study abroad?" or "What do you think of Occupy?" Questions like that usually elicit a torrent of conversation, and a good peek into her current world.</p>

<p>LasMa, I've formed a slackermom group. ;)</p>

<p>As for dinner conversation, my son still speaks grunt and mumble. :(</p>

<p>We live in Iowa. No shortage of dinner table conversation starters around here these days. January 3 can't get here fast enough.</p>

<p>Can I join the slackermom group (though I think we should be inclusive and make it slackerparent)? We mainly talk about sports.</p>

<p>Ouch, ouch ouch. Just the combination of "catalyst" and "dinner table discussion" makes my head hurt. Most of our semester break table conversations run along the lines of: "This tastes great! How did you make it? They keep adding curry to everything at school. Could you make X while I'm home? ...." </p>

<p>Slacker parents of starving children.</p>

<p>Sign me up as a slacker parent! I am not going to try to assess how my college aged kids' critical thinking skills are developing. S is a video game design major, D will be graduating in May, youngest D tries to interest me in her AP Euro discussions with little success. (My degree is in engineering and my thinking more concrete.)</p>

<p>LOL. That IS what they are learning in college. S just graduated in a major that was designed in the spirit of Socrates, et. al. (it was Great Books Program). The other kid is taking many core classes where critical thinking is key....</p>

<p>Any dinner conversation is fine with me.... delighted to have them at the table.</p>

<p>I would be happy to be a slacker parent. DS and DH will likely get into a "conversation" about politics that won't end well...</p>

<p>I just asked my kid how his critical thinking skills are coming along. He said they're fine.</p>

<p>^LOL, DB.</p>

<p>We've had plenty interesting and mind-bending conversations around our dinner table. But we never needed to plan for them--they just break out no matter what I do. I'm not sure how a canned topic would work.</p>

<p>I think it's terrific that you're engaging your kids in this kind of deep conversations about current events, Stitch! If we'd had more of that kind of critical thinking and discussion back when the tobacco companies were pumping out the type of faux-scientific hit pieces as represented by the one linked to, a lot of people might not have died of cancer. </p>

<p>I loved the way the article segued effortlessly from a high-minded discourse on the scientific method right into a slimy ad hominem attack on a few individuals, culminating with
the only thing clear that emerges from the Climategate e-mails is that the scientists claiming that “the science is settled” and that there is “consensus” among scientists that humankind are acting as planet killers, can’t be trusted, nor can their research be pointed to as solid proof of anthropogenic global warming.

This guy is good. Slides right by the scientific assessment of those same scientists actual work which found nothing of the sort, while tut-tutting over a bunch of locker room chit-chat as indisputable proof of skullduggery. Maybe not as good as Milloy and the old tobacco propaganda veterans, but good nonetheless.</p>

<p>Thanks for highlighting this grotesque job of propaganda masquerading as analysis, cloaked in high-minded principles. There's a lot of that out there, which no doubt explains the wide discrepancy between real scientists assessment of this issue and that of the general public, who can be expected to be taken in by stuff like this.</p>

<p>I'm sure Socrates would be proud of you, Stitch. Learning to distinguish slick propaganda like this from actual scientific discourse is an important skill for your kids to learn. Kudos to ya!</p>

<p>So, son, find a nice girl to fool around with?</p>

<p>kluge, I suggest you take a look at the book Heaven and Earth: Global Warming - The Missing Science by Ian Plimer. It contains thousands of references to scientific papers and explains the science of climate - what is known and how it is known and what is not known - throughout the earth's history. I think it might be hard slogging for a nonscientist, but the beginning of each chapter very clearly lays out in layman's terms the information which is laid out in the scientific studies to be discussed. </p>

<p>Conclusion of the book - there are serious issues with the claims of human caused global warming and the notion that we can do anything significant at all to affect warming or cooling caused by the sun's cycles or by natural earth cycles. </p>

<p>Information which I had not come across before and which I found eye opening was the effect of the oceans on the carbon dioxide cycle and the effect of volcanic activity underneath the oceans and ice packs on that cycle. I was also amazed at the story of how the "baseline" carbon dioxide measurement for the years before 1950 (270ppmv) was come up with - spoiler - it was not a scientific choice as many of the measured values (eg. 1942 - 400ppmv) were even higher than we have now (385 ppmv). I also read how the temperature data for the past few hundred years that the global warming believers are using was obtained - it's all referenced in the papers - and the uncertainty in reading the thermometers used dwarfs any warming trend (.7 degrees +/- 1.3 degrees). Other more accurate recent measurements (as of ice cores) show different data for different parts of the world. As for warmest year of the past 100 - it was 1934. And of course, everyone knows that the famous Mann "hockey stick" diagram showing a hockey stick shaped temperature rise was refuted by statisticians and shown to be false.</p>

<p>Read the science!!! Not those who have a vested interest in maintaining the threat of human caused climate catastrophe in order to amass power (politicians) or maintain their government grants or bully pulpits (global warming scientists)! </p>

<p>I agree with you -

Learning to distinguish slick propaganda like this from actual scientific discourse is an important skill ... to learn.


<p>As for myself, for holiday dinners, I will go with LongPrime: Son, when are you gonna give that girl a ring? And daughter, tell me about this new guy you're going out with.</p>

<p>Dinner conversation? Are you kidding? I just visited my daughter. The first night I was there, I sat down to dinner with my daughter and her two boyfriends. And you want me to plan things for dinner conversation? :)</p>

<p>Thank you Kluge. I had missed the real point of this thread and thought it was actually about parenting.</p>

<p>As for my S, he's planning to devote his vacation to video games (and sadly that's not what he's studying...) He feels he has to rest his brain for a while.</p>

<p>Parent, I understand that you don't want AGW science to be right. I don't either. A bona fide discovery that we could continue to utilize cheap energy from burning fossil fuels without any adverse consequences would be a relief. But it's important to recognize when one doesn't have the tools to distinguish between plausible but phony pop-science and the real thing. Here's a review of the book you cite by someone who doesn't have to rely on having things "laid out in layman's terms." No science in Plimer's primer The Australian</p>

ONE of the peculiar things about being an astronomer is that you receive, from time to time, monographs on topics such as "a new theory of the electric universe", or "Einstein was wrong", or "the moon landings were a hoax".</p>

<p>The writings are always earnest, often involve conspiracy theories and are scientifically worthless.</p>

<p>One such document that arrived last week was Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth


If Plimer is right and he is able to show that the work of literally thousands of oceanographers, solar physicists, biologists, atmospheric scientists, geologists, and snow and ice researchers during the past 100 years is fundamentally flawed, then it would rank as one of the greatest discoveries of the century and would almost certainly earn him a Nobel prize.

I agree with this. In fact, if a scientist could prove that AGW theory was wrong, he'd not only win the Nobel prize but would become rich and famous. But...

The arguments that Plimer advances in the 503 pages and 2311 footnotes in Heaven and Earth are nonsense. The book is largely a collection of contrarian ideas and conspiracy theories that are rife in the blogosphere. The writing is rambling and repetitive; the arguments flawed and illogical.

One example:
Plimer probably didn't expect an astronomer to review his book. I couldn't help noticing on page120 an almost word-for-word reproduction of the abstract from a well-known loony paper entitled "The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass". This paper argues that the sun isn't composed of 98 per cent hydrogen and helium, as astronomers have confirmed through a century of observation and theory, but is instead similar in composition to a meteorite.</p>

<p>It is hard to understate the depth of scientific ignorance that the inclusion of this information demonstrates. It is comparable to a biologist claiming that plants obtain energy from magnetism rather than photosynthesis.

In other words, it's convincing if you want to believe, and don't have the training and expertise needed to recognize that it's not actually science. </p>

<p>Yes, understanding this stuff is an important lesson for our kids,</p>