What are two examples of faulty reasoning/logic seen in the videos "Bill Nye Battles with CNN Host" and "Fox Host 'We Had to Give Up Our Freedom' During Snow Storm Because Climate Change is a Hoax"?

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the video "Billy Nye Battles with CNN Host," the female host uses a great deal of faulty reasoning. She references a March 6-9 Gallup Poll that states that 36% of polled people (who she referred to as "Americans") believe that global warming poses a serious threat to our way of life, while 64% of polled people do not believe that it poses such a threat. She uses this poll to suggest that the "scare tactics haven't worked" and that public consensus is necessary to move along legislation that would limit greenhouse emissions and attempt to modify the human impact on the environment. The claim that is also implicit here (and is later "supported" by the flawed arguing of her guest, Nicolas Loris, a conservative economist) is that Americans should not be required to make conservation efforts since global warming isn't really hurting us.

So, what's the problem with this? First, the host is overgeneralizing the issue by referring to a poll on public opinion without any sense of the scope of that poll. How many people were polled? From predominantly what areas of the United States? How old were they? Etc. Polls are often used as a tool to make sweeping generalizations, and this video is no exception! The host implies that the results of the poll entirely represents the public opinion of Americans, when in reality it just represents a sliver of American thoughts on the issue. To use this poll as substantive "evidence" is highly problematic. She then goes on to reach a huge conclusion out of this continued overgeneralization and circular reasoning: the impact of global warming on our lives does not exist because we, as Americans, do not believe that the impact of global warming on our lives exists! See how this is essentially the restatement of the same claim? 

In the video "Fox Host 'We Had to Give Up Our Freedom' During Snow Storm Because Climate Change is a Hoax," the talking heads on Fox suggest that President Obama's claim that global warming is one of the largest issues at hand is false because terrorism is a larger threat. They try to make this point through absurd statements of over-simplification: "Have there been beheadings by the climate?," "Climate change can not dress up, cross continent borders, look like a neighbor, plan plots, sit in the cut, and then blow something up," etc. The male guest/host on the show finally steps in to stop this rampant over-simplification, stating: "He's just saying it affects more people in terms of numbers." Unfortunately, the other guests continue to derail the conversation into arguments of assumption (with one host self-importantly stating that because she felt personally affected by the death of a young woman at the hands of a terrorist organization, terrorism must be the bigger issue!) and another host tearing down scientific models that predicted the impact of a snowstorm in New York (ignoring the fact that those projections were ultimately correct in Boston) via false causality and, as you may have guessed, more over-generalization

Ultimately, the arguments against global warming deniers in both videos ignore the greater issue at hand, which is to say that global warming is just that: global. Just because wealthy Americans--who are, indeed, the people leveled into positions of enough power and privilege to be able to speak on these news programs--are not the first or most radically impacted demographic does not mean that others around the world--especially those living in rural areas, struggling through poverty, or existing within third-world countries--are not already suffering the consequences of a changing global environment.

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