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.