Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Expert Opinion

is something we all have recourse to. To avoid falling into the "Appeal to Authority" fallacy in logic there are things we must be sure of before we rely on an "expert". What are his Qualifications? Are they current? Are they relevant to the topic under discussion? Does this opinion represent a consensus or is it a minority opinion or even a lonely dissent?

Ok, I like Mark's way of putting better:

Train Wreck Imminent:

Suppose an expert weightlifter were to be given an entire series by the BBC in which he is allowed to hold forth on US Middle East policy, the gold standard, and plumbing techniques in New Zealand. You might ask, "How does expertise in weightlifting qualify this guy to pontificate on these things?" and you'd be right.

But nobody asks why expertise in a rarified branch of physics qualifies Stephen Hawking to pontificate on philosophy and metaphysics. Instead, the theological and philosophical illiterates running the Beeb in the Country that Used to Be England simply assume that a technician will have profound things to say, despite the massive and growing pile of evidence that the man has no idea what he is talking about when he blathers about these things that are clearly outside he field of competence.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It!.)