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New resource: myth deconstructions as animated GIFs

Posted on 22 March 2022 by BaerbelW

Thumbnail OISMThis blog post introduces a new collection of animated GIFs we are making available in our graphics resources to help with myth debunkings and deconstructions. They are based on the paper Deconstructing climate misinformation to identify reasoning errors published by John Cook, David Kinkead and Peter Ellerton in 2018.

In 2018 John Cook, David Kinkead and Peter Ellerton published the paper Deconstructing climate misinformation to identify reasoning errors in which they explained how climate science myths can be taken apart - or deconstructed - with the help of critical thinking methods. They went through the exercise for 40 of the most often heard climate myths using quite an elaborate process:

Flow Chart

Figure 1. Flowchart for evaluating contrarian claims. Circles indicate possible fallacies to be detected at each stage. See supplementary table S1 for definition of each fallacy. Click for larger version.

As you can see, this is not really easy to digest, so the authors also created a video abstract about their paper's content. In the video they explain the technique of how to apply critical thinking to climate myths quite hilariously:

The paper also includes a four-page PDF as a supplement listing all of these myth-deconstructions. It is however „somewhat“ hard to read unless you use the zoom-function of your browser or PDF-reader! Because of this it‘s also a bit unwieldy as a quick reference. Luckily enough John Cook has found a way to show examples of how to deconstruct a myth for his presentations. The following video contains three examples of myth deconstructions interwoven with snippets from the video above and other resources:

Cranky Science Part 3 - examples of myth deconstructions start at 3:40 (past climate change), 6:12 (Oregon petition) and 9:15 (It's cold).

Based on the format of the slides used for the deconstructions we are now providing the first „batch“ of 9 myth deconstructions as animated GIFs in our graphics resources. Each resource page lists the steps of the deconstruction from incoming myth statement to final verdict which - spoiler alert! - incidentally is „claim fails“ for all of them! The texts are based on the PDF supplement linked to above. The final image in each GIF shows the short URL to the related myth rebuttal on Skeptical Science. 

OISM animated GIF

Figure 2: Animated GIF of deconstruction of myth "OISM petition disproves the scientific consensus". Graphics resource page

Step-by-step deconstruction

The table below is inspired by the simplified supplement of Cook et al. 2018 and may differ slightly from what is shown in the GIF. This is mostly due to make the text fit into the available space which made it necessary to reword some of it.

1 Identify claim 31,000 dissenting scientists show there’s no expert consensus on climate change.
2 Argument structure Premise 1: A large proportion of people with science degrees dissent against human-caused global warming.
Premise 2: People with science degrees are experts on climate change.
Conclusion: There is no expert agreement on human-caused global warming.
3 Inferential Intent

Deduction

4 Validity VALID
4a Hidden premises NONE
5 Check premises Premise 1 is false: magnified minority. 31,000 are 0.3% of the 10,000,000+ people with science degrees in the U.S.
Premise 2 is false: fake experts. The term "scientists" covers a range of disciplines, many of which don't include expertise in climate science. 99.9% of the signatories in the Global Warming Petition Project have no expertise in climate science.
6 Status of claim FALSE
Both premises are false.
7 Summary of fallacies

Magnified minority: While 31,000 science graduates sounds like a lot, it is only 0.3% of the over 10 million people with science degrees in the United States.

Fake experts: 99.9% of the signatories in the Global Warming Petition Project have no expertise in climate science.

List of logic based myth deconstructions

The first 9 animated GIFs are available in the new graphics category "Myth Deconstructions" each with a width of 500px and 800px.

Graphics

Myth  
Short URL - ideal for sharing on social media!
Cold (EN) sks.to/md-cold-en
Glacier (EN) sks.to/md-glacier-en
Lag (EN) sks.to/md-lag-en
Model (EN sks.to/md-model-en
OISM (EN sks.to/md-oism-en
Past (EN) sks.to/md-past-en
Plant (EN) sks.to/md-plant-en
Sun (EN sks.to/md-sun-en
Volcano (EN) sks.to/md-volcano-en

We plan to create more of these deconstructions as time allows and the full list is always accessible via this resource collection. We’ll also add the GIFs to the relevant rebuttals.

We hope that these animated GIFs will come in handy when you encounter myths online or are preparing your own presentation and need an example for logic based debunking. Whenever you use them and if you have an option to add a link, please show the URL to the graphics resource page alongside the graphic. And if you are using one of the GIFs online, please share a link in the comments!

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