Today’s radio news headlined with the supposed “outrage” that the 15 sailors and marines detained by the Iranians were being allowed to be paid for for their press reviews. Apparently The Sun newspaper (no, I will not post a URL to them…) has offered them a “six figure sum” [*] for their stories. From the breakfast radio news, this has caused outrage. People like Bob Stewart, Tim Collins and numerous other people were being mentioned as “outraged” over this decision by the MOD. The BBC news website had a lead article titled “Iran stories sale criticism grows” which explained the Head of the Army has banned all Soldiers from selling their stories following the Navy personnel being allowed to make some money off the story. Different media outlets have similar stories — all pretty much saying the same thing. The TV news had vox pop interviews with people in the street, mostly saying they “thought it was wrong for them to sell their story.”
The sheer barefaced hypocrisy, tinged with basic madness, of all this amazes me. I am (almost) at a loss for which parts of the nonsense to start with… Continue reading →
No, not the kind, sane, rational people who comment here! My post on “Writing from Ignorance” was largely based on having read the paper edition of the Guardian today. Out of curiosity I visited the online version to see what sort of comments people came up with. Wow. For a while, I had felt I was being harsh towards Marina Hyde and had tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. Not so some of the people who commented.
Now, there are zillions of comments and I read very few of them — mainly the first and last as I find that is the best way to get a feel for the debate when there are loads of comments. Here the majority of insane posts come from people claiming to be Americans. I truly hope they are either lying through their teeth or they do not present a representative sample. Some blasts of wisdom are: Continue reading →
The false authority fallacy is one which rears it’s ugly head on a regular basis. I used to labour under the suspicion that this was more a problem for the right wing extremists, religious zealots on the like. Sadly, I have had my eyes opened somewhat.
In the most basic form, the false authority fallacy is most often invoked when a person, an expert in one field, is used to provide expert testimony in an unrelated field. We get it on a regular basis in the UK news (and I assume this is a global phenomenon), when (for example) Surgeons from the GMC pass opinion on anti-crime legislation. They may be wonderful surgeons, but what do they know about criminology or social control? Note: They may also be excellent criminologist or sociologists — but this is not something which can be assumed by their status as a surgeon. This fallacy happens all over — although they understand the grief, what special insight do the parents of murdered children have into law? — and it often manifests itself in a variety of mutated forms (Creationists are specialists at this). Recently, I have seen a new variation.