Criticising the scientific method

  • Thread starter hadeka
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  • #26


I have never stated that the validity comes from the reputation of the author. What I am saying is that in this context it is not appealing to authority by deferring to the expert in this field of study. It is very likely that the expert in the field of study is going to have a better grasp on drawing conclusions from the data set than a layman would.
That's a change in your tune - before you said "The only other people who are capable of drawing conclusions on this data set would be other ichthyologists." (emphasis mine)

You noted "very likely" in that last bit but likelihoods aside, it's the idea that matters. That is why I asserted "Anyone who has access to the evidence he has collected could draw conclusions and might be more successful in deducing the significance of the evidence or extrapolating patterns from the evidence than the ichthyologist." As you mention below with Einstein, it is the virtue of the theories themselves that is important within science, not the reputation or resume of the theorist.

Conversely, take an example from religion: per the Roman Catholic doctrine of Papal Infallibility, the pope's pronouncements upon certain types of Catholic spiritual matters are infallible - not because of any quality of the ideas themselves but because he's the pope. Before empiricism the attitude in academics was often similar: Livy's interpretation of the meaning of events in Roman history was the correct one because Livy was the most reputed Roman historian.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make with this? I don't think anyone is suggesting that an expertise is an innate ability. It is something that is earned. In Einstein's case, he earned it by having his theories withstand the scientific process.
You've got no idea what this would have to do with the current discussion, huh? :wink:

The point I am making is that Einstein did not possess the title "theoretical physicist" yet he was far more capable of and successful in his analysis of the contemporary evidence than many of his peers who officially held the title, men would would have won far more regard as specialist experts than a patent clerk. It is not the case, as you stated, that only the specialist like the ichthyologist is capable of drawing conclusions from his data. And that's the case regardless of whether the specialist's expertise is innate or acquired.

Depth of experience certainly can aid in scientific analysis as it can with any skill. And as a matter of practicality scientists are going to primarily spend their time contemplating and working on new ideas from people who have "earned their chops" as opposed to pursuing any new idea at all which they're exposed to. But an important feature of empiricism and the scientific approach to knowledge, distinct from the forms of epistemology that preceded them, is that the validity (or "truth", to get old school) of an assertion is vested solely in the assertion itself and has absolutely nothing to do with the prestige or other characteristics of the author of that assertion.
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  • #27


That's a change in your tune - before you said "The only other people who are capable of drawing conclusions on this data set would be other ichthyologists." (emphasis mine)
I did not change my tune at all. My last quote reflects my previous quote of "the only other people who are capable of drawing conclusions on this data set would be other ichthyologists." To use an analogy, would a dentist be more qualified in classifying and dating rocks than a geologist? This is where I'm going with my point, that in this context it wouldn't be committing the fallacy of appealing to authority.

You noted "very likely" in that last bit but likelihoods aside, it's the idea that matters. That is why I asserted "Anyone who has access to the evidence he has collected could draw conclusions and might be more successful in deducing the significance of the evidence or extrapolating patterns from the evidence than the ichthyologist."
I think that's stretching it. If I don't know what aspects to analyze or more generally what to even look for, how am I going to even have a remote chance of being more successful at deducing significant information than an expert would? This is why the title of "expert" is earned.

You've got no idea what this would have to do with the current discussion, huh? :wink:

The point I am making is that Einstein did not possess the title "theoretical physicist" yet he was far more capable of and successful in his analysis of the contemporary evidence than many of his peers who officially held the title, men would would have won far more regard as specialist experts than a patent clerk. It is not the case, as you stated, that only the specialist like the ichthyologist is capable of drawing conclusions from his data. And that's the case regardless of whether the specialist's expertise is innate or acquired.
Again, you're proving my point that the title of "expert" is earned.
 
  • #28


I did not change my tune at all. My last quote reflects my previous quote of "the only other people who are capable of drawing conclusions on this data set would be other ichthyologists." To use an analogy, would a dentist be more qualified in classifying and dating rocks than a geologist? This is where I'm going with my point, that in this context it wouldn't be committing the fallacy of appealing to authority.
There is nothing that would prevent a dentist from successfully classifying and dating rocks. Or even correcting a mistake a geologist made. And yes, it would commit the fallacy of appealing to authority to assert that only someone designated "expert geologist" could classify and date rocks.

I think that's stretching it. If I don't know what aspects to analyze or more generally what to even look for, how am I going to even have a remote chance of being more successful at deducing significant information than an expert would? This is why the title of "expert" is earned.
Like I said, it's pretty obvious that a fisherman or probably anyone who lives on a seashore would know that there are sea creatures less than two inches long and could analyze an ichthyologist's stuff-I-caught-in-a-net data. The data's in a written report? Make it a literate fisherman. The report's clouded up with technical terminology from Latin and Greek root words? Make it a fisherman who's literate in Latin and Greek. Or a fisherman with an ichthyology glossary at his disposal. Saying you need a professorship in ichthyology to determine whether or not there are sea creatures shorter than two inches long is what's a stretch.

You're now trying to imply that anyone who is not an expert automatically "doesn't know what aspects to analyze or more generally what to even look for". This is as fallacious as implying that being an expert (even an "earned" expert) automatically makes you correct.

If the evidence for a scientific finding is so cryptic that it's incomprehensible to anyone who isn't a specialist in the exact same field then it's probably not very good science. Or there's another Bogdanov Affair going on.

Again, you're proving my point that the title of "expert" is earned.
No, you're pretending to not notice the fact that Einstein was already capably drawing successful conclusions at a point when he'd earned no such thing and was still a patent clerk.

Only an expert is capable of successfully drawing conclusions from the evidence but you know in 2008 that Einstein was an expert in 1904 because his conclusions were later confirmed? Appealing to authority isn't the only fallacy you're indulging in.

Give it up, man. "The only other people who are capable of drawing conclusions on this data set would be other ichthyologists" was a silly statement to make, one that can only be fixed with circular reasoning like you're trying to get away with in the case of Einstein there - by saying something like "but anyone who successfully draws a conclusion from an ichthyologist's data is an ichthyologist herself."
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  • #29


There is nothing that would prevent a dentist from successfully classifying and dating rocks. Or even correcting a mistake a geologist made. And yes, it would commit the fallacy of appealing to authority to assert that only someone designated "expert geologist" could classify and date rocks.
That's a silly statement to make. It's not the dentist's line of work to be dating and classifying rocks. It is, however, the geologists line of work, therefore making him more qualified. Why is that so hard for you to grasp? Better yet, lets reverse the analogy, would a geologist be more qualified in fixing your teeth than a dentist?



Like I said, it's pretty obvious that a fisherman or probably anyone who lives on a seashore would know that there are sea creatures less than two inches long and could analyze an ichthyologist's stuff-I-caught-in-a-net data. The data's in a written report? Make it a literate fisherman. The report's clouded up with technical terminology from Latin and Greek root words? Make it a fisherman who's literate in Latin and Greek. Or a fisherman with an ichthyology glossary at his disposal. Saying you need a professorship in ichthyology to determine whether or not there are sea creatures shorter than two inches long is what's a stretch.
We are not talking about fishermen. We are talking about layman.

You're now trying to imply that anyone who is not an expert automatically "doesn't know what aspects to analyze or more generally what to even look for". This is as fallacious as implying that being an expert (even an "earned" expert) automatically makes you correct.
So is the term "expert" meaningless to you? Science will always keep its doors open, however, there hasn't been one scientific illiterate that has made a major scientific discovery, and please don't try to refute me with Einstein. Einstein was obviously scientifically literate.


No, you're pretending to not notice the fact that Einstein was already capably drawing successful conclusions at a point when he'd earned no such thing and was still a patent clerk.
He's still an expert though.
 
  • #30


That's a silly statement to make. It's not the dentist's line of work to be dating and classifying rocks. It is, however, the geologists line of work, therefore making him more qualified. Why is that so hard for you to grasp? Better yet, lets reverse the analogy, would a geologist be more qualified in fixing your teeth than a dentist?
It's entirely possible that some specific person with the title "geologist" could be more successful in fixing a particular dental problem than some other specific person with the title "dentist". You tried to present a good rule of thumb generalization as absolute fact because you were really gung-ho to sharply contradict me. Without "maybe" or "probably" involved it was a goof on your part.

We are not talking about fishermen. We are talking about layman.
No, we're talking about anyone who is not an ichthyologist. You very clearly said "only... ichthyologists". Unless you're going to retract that, a fisherman who is not an ichthyologist but is capable of drawing conclusions from an ichthyologist's experimental data easily falsifies your assertion.

So is the term "expert" meaningless to you?
Nope, it's not meaningless, it just doesn't have the definition that you're trying to pass off with, adding an epistemological meaning and using circular logic, so as to make it consistent with your earlier statements.

"Expert" does not mean "the only type of person who can draw conclusions from evidence" nor "someone whose conclusions are correct" nor even "someone whose conclusions are likely to be correct"; as an ordinary English word it doesn't have any epistemological significance.

Science will always keep its doors open, however, there hasn't been one scientific illiterate that has made a major scientific discovery, and please don't try to refute me with Einstein. Einstein was obviously scientifically literate.
Bzzzt, you're trying to change your story again. You have not mentioned scientific literacy up until this point, your previous statements had nothing to do with scientific literacy.

Not that you'd even remotely be able to prove this new absolute claim "there hasn't been one scientific illiterate that has made a major scientific discovery." I can name a couple right off the top of my head: ever heard of Augusto and Michaela Odone? Another good example of people who drew conclusions more successfully than the people who collected the evidence. And there are many more (unless, again, you adopt some sort of circular logic and say "If someone has made a major scientific discovery they're automatically scientifically literate.")

He's still an expert though.
Except that by the circular definition you've boxed yourself into, an expert can successfully draw conclusions and anyone who can successfully draw conclusions is an expert. So it's tautological to say "experts (people who draw conclusions from data at some point in the future or past) are the only ones who can draw conclusions from data."

"We all know that conclusions drawn from evidence by person X cannot be correct" simply does not pass muster as a scientific approach. It violates the basic principles of empiricism.
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  • #31


It's entirely possible that some specific person with the title "geologist" could be more successful in fixing a particular dental problem than some other specific person with the title "dentist". You tried to present a good rule of thumb generalization as absolute fact because you were really gung-ho to sharply contradict me. Without "maybe" or "probably" involved it was a goof on your part.
You're trying to refute me on "maybe there's some guy out there." It's a pretty weak refutation on your part.


No, we're talking about anyone who is not an ichthyologist. You very clearly said "only... ichthyologists". Unless you're going to retract that, a fisherman who is not an ichthyologist but is capable of drawing conclusions from an ichthyologist's experimental data easily falsifies your assertion.
You're using an absolute now by implying that "all fisherman are not ichthyologists." How do you know this?


Nope, it's not meaningless, it just doesn't have the definition that you're trying to pass off with, adding an epistemological meaning and using circular logic, so as to make it consistent with your earlier statements.
If you know how to accurately apply concepts of a certain field in any situation to discover new findings then yes I'd consider you an expert in that particular field of study.

"Expert" does not mean "the only type of person who can draw conclusions from evidence" nor "someone whose conclusions are correct" nor even "someone whose conclusions are likely to be correct"; as an ordinary English word it doesn't have any epistemological significance.
No, expert does not mean that, but I am trying to show you why deferring to an expert in this situation is not fallacious in reasoning at all. What I mean by my statement is that the expert is more qualified in extracting information out of the data set because he's trained to know what to analyze and look for. Therefore, his conclusions and other ichthyologists conclusions should be given more credence than a layman's contradictory conclusion.



Bzzzt, you're trying to change your story again. You have not mentioned scientific literacy up until this point, your previous statements had nothing to do with scientific literacy.

Not that you'd even remotely be able to prove this new absolute claim "there hasn't been one scientific illiterate that has made a major scientific discovery." I can name a couple right off the top of my head: ever heard of Augusto and Michaela Odone? Another good example of people who drew conclusions more successfully than the people who collected the evidence. And there are many more (unless, again, you adopt some sort of circular logic and say "If someone has made a major scientific discovery they're automatically scientifically literate.")
The link you provided states they had no medical background, but that doesn't imply they were scientifically illiterate. Someone could have no astronomical background, but still be scientifically literate, so your case example doesn't really stand much ground here.
 
  • #32


I think our arguments rest solely on discerning between merely "unqualified of drawing conclusions" and "unqualified of drawing accurate conclusions." Anyone can draw all sorts of conclusions on a data set, which is why you have so many conspiracy theories roaming around out there. I'm talking more specifically about experts in a particular field being more qualified on drawing accurate conclusions from the data set than a non expert. I hope that clears the air somewhat.
 
  • #33


I saw your most recent comment there, response is down at the bottom, but not until I'd written my response to the preceding comment.

You're trying to refute me on "maybe there's some guy out there." It's a pretty weak refutation on your part.
No, it's an extremely strong refutation against absolute statements like the ones you made. Only a single exception is necessary to disprove a rule stated absolutely.

You're using an absolute now by implying that "all fisherman are not ichthyologists." How do you know this?
Certainly, I don't know what definitions you're working with. By "ichthyologist" you might have meant "an all-knowing, omnipotent being." A (retconned) definition like that could make your statement correct, too. Or perhaps all biologists are ichthyologists at the same time... indeed, maybe every person who is scientifically literate is an ichthyologist! Oh, the wonders of rhetorical legerdemain!

Certainly, as I have pointed out, if you adopt a circular definition such that anyone who is capable of successfully drawing a conclusion from an ichthyologist's experimental evidence is an ichthyologist themselves, that works as well. It just makes your initial statement a tautology.

If you know how to apply concepts of a certain field in any situation to discover new findings then yes I'd consider you an expert in that particular field of study.
So, if you're subsequently going to say that the only way to draw a correct conclusion from evidence is to fulfill the criteria for that definition of expert you could get away with all this, but again you'd be making invalid generalizations to build up a self-supporting a circular definition. You can stack as many steps into the definition as you want, but if the way you're getting your original statement to be true is by adjusting the definitions involved in this manner, it's still circular reasoning.

No, expert does not mean that, but I am trying to show you why deferring to an expert in this situation is not fallacious in reasoning at all. What I mean by my statement is that the expert is more qualified in extracting information out of the data set because he's trained to know what to analyze and look for. Therefore, his conclusions and other ichthyologists conclusions should be given more credence than a layman's contradictory conclusion.
Your statements do not literally say what you now claim they mean. You said that an expert's conclusions are "more accurate" and you didn't talk about non-ichthyologists being less qualified, you said that they aren't capable of drawing conclusions based on the data. (Qualified, by the way, means "attested to", again not "correct" or "likely to be correct." For example a "qualified sales lead" is a lead that goes to a genuine opportunity for a salesman rather than someone who hasn't got any money but is asking questions. A qualified person has credentials or references that attest to his or her abilities or achievements.)

And beside that... "given credence"? You mean if we aren't trying to be scientific about evaluating the various conclusions and we're just sort of guessing which one is valid? Yeah, sure, you could do that and I agree that it's a good basis for a guess about which one's correct. But as I've said from the very beginning it wouldn't be scientific.

If there were two conflicting, untested hypotheses presented that both explained the same set of data it would not be scientific to dismiss one of them based on anything about the person who proposed the hypothesis. It would be scientific to point out reasoning flaws within a hypothesis or inconsistency with data from another source - but you would do that with any hypothesis, to the same degree, no matter who came up with it.

If you did handle two different hypotheses differently based upon the qualities of the individuals they originated from, as you are proposing to do, that would be known in science as "bias".

I didn't say "there is no reasonable basis to ever defer to the best guesses or opinions of someone with experience." I said that doing so isn't science. It might be good science journalism or good science public relations or a good move in a career in science to show bias in favor of respected sources, but to include such bias in the scientific method or process itself is regarded as an error or mistake. A theory or an aspect of a theory which relied upon deference to an authority to select the correct explanation of experimental data would be regarded as resting upon an untested and hence unconfirmed assumption.

If, when I said "that's not scientific" to arildno up above, you thought by "scientific" I meant "generally related to science somehow" as in the company name "Boston Scientific" or as in the statement "the Bogdanov Affair was a scientific embarrassment", rather than "pertaining to the scientific method" as is the subject of this thread, I apologize for not being clearer. (However, I'd be pretty skeptical if you claimed that, of course.)

The link you provided states they had no medical background, but that doesn't imply they were scientifically illiterate. Someone could have no astronomical background, but still be scientifically literate, so your case example doesn't really stand much ground here.
Oh! Good trick trying to ignore the part where I pointed out that your preceding statements had nothing to do with scientific literacy, and pretend that you aren't completely contravening your previous insistence that being a specialist and expert was necessary. Cherry picking too - this thread is becoming a gallery of deceptive rhetoric! The trick of derailing me by making an additional untenable absolute statement, about science literacy this time, almost worked.

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I think our arguments rest solely on discerning between merely "unqualified of drawing conclusions" and "unqualified of drawing accurate conclusions." Anyone can draw all sorts of conclusions on a data set, which is why you have so many conspiracy theories roaming around out there. I'm talking more specifically about experts in a particular field being more qualified on drawing accurate conclusions from the data set than a non expert. I hope that clears the air somewhat.
Those would have been great points to make but I reiterate that this is not what you said. You asserted that an expert's conclusions are more accurate and that non-experts are incapable of analyzing data. (See also my remarks about the meaning of "qualified" up above.)

I think that the sort of attitude which was literally articulated in those first statements is as rampant as conspiracy theories and is potentially more harmful because it can lead to many more people believing an invalid theory than a wacko fringe conspiracy theorist might.

I also think it's bad because many scientists (and science journalists) don't distinguish very well between the science, the data and the hypotheses their work and the scientific community's work has produced confirmation of, and the ideas they come up with when they're thinking about stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if many of the wacko internet theories originate from someone with scientific authority carelessly or confusingly talking about an idea he's had.

There are also scientists who intentionally treat these sorts of ideas as if they do have the same sort of backing as the real science, the confirmed stuff. I've seen this done for the sake of deception, not just simplification, when someone knows that their interlocutors don't have the expertise to easily check the facts. Not entirely unlike the various rhetorical tricks you've tried to pull to avoid admitting that your original statements, as literally written, contravene empiricism and scientific principles. I think it's partly because some people are so casual about this that science is often distrusted.

Bias is necessary in everyday lives. You can't apply scientific rigor to any, or really even most, of the decisions you make. But bias has no place in the body of knowledge that the scientific community vouches for. So I think that in a thread in a scientific skepticism forum, a thread that's about the scientific method, this is a very significant distinction between what is science and what is not science. A distinction that should not be swept under the rug.
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  • #34


No, it's an extremely strong refutation against absolute statements like the ones you made. Only a single exception is necessary to disprove a rule stated absolutely.
Ok, so in our analogy say the geologist was an amateur dentist. Who would you trust more to fix your teeth? An amateur or a professional?


Certainly, I don't know what definitions you're working with. By "ichthyologist" you might have meant "an all-knowing, omnipotent being." A (retconned) definition like that could make your statement correct, too. Or perhaps all biologists are ichthyologists at the same time... indeed, maybe every person who is scientifically literate is an ichthyologist! Oh, the wonders of rhetorical legerdemain!
Now you're just creating a strawman argument. I never said every person that's scientifically literate is an ichthyologist. How you even came up with this is beyond me.

So, if you're subsequently going to say that the only way to draw a correct conclusion from evidence is to fulfill the criteria for that definition of expert you could get away with all this, but again you'd be making invalid generalizations to build up a self-supporting a circular definition. You can stack as many steps into the definition as you want, but if the way you're getting your original statement to be true is by adjusting the definitions involved in this manner, it's still circular reasoning.
You could have someone start from square one and not learn about any of the previous concepts ascertained in that particular field, but that wouldn't be progressing our body of knowledge at all. Eventually the person starting from square one would have to learn about the already ascertained concepts.



Your statements do not literally say what you now claim they mean. You said that an expert's conclusions are "more accurate" and you didn't talk about non-ichthyologists being less qualified, you said that they aren't capable of drawing conclusions based on the data.
Lets not turn this into a semantics argument. The non-expert is less qualified of drawing accurate conclusions from the data set than an expert. The non-expert can certainly censure those conclusions and ask questions, but as far as extracting information from the data set they would be less qualified than the expert. This is why in my last post I attempted to clear the air on this distinction.


And beside that... "given credence"? You mean if we aren't trying to be scientific about evaluating the various conclusions and we're just sort of guessing which one is valid? Yeah, sure, you could do that and I agree that it's a good basis for a guess about which one's correct. But as I've said from the very beginning it wouldn't be scientific.
Again, my contention has nothing to do with whether the science is accurate or not. My contention is you found it fallacious in reasoning to give more credence to the relevant experts conclusions on the data seat over a non-experts conclusions on the data set. Appealing to authority would be more like saying democracy is true because scientist X said so. Yes, it is fallacious and appealing to authority to say theory X is true because scientist X concluded so. However, it isn't appealing to authority to give more credence to expert X's conclusions on a data set over layman Y's conclusions on the data set.


As you've pointed out, we can't be experts in everything. At some point, all of us are going to have to appeal to some authority. This is all I'm really trying to say in the broader spectrum of things. Maybe I should have started out with that statement and delve from there with you.
 
  • #35


Ok, so in our analogy say the geologist was an amateur dentist. Who would you trust more to fix your teeth? An amateur or a professional?
If this was in any way an analogy to your original statements - if you had asked a question like "Wouldn't you trust an ichthyologist more to do a do a marine survey for you?" I would entertain this.

But you didn't even ask any questions - you flat out, without hesitating, stated that an expert is more accurate and that only experts can draw conclusions from their data.

Now you're just creating a strawman argument. I never said every person that's scientifically literate is an ichthyologist. How you even came up with this is beyond me.
Beyond you, huh? Suggesting fishermen might be ichthyologists - that makes perfect sense. But scientifically literate people as ichthyologists, that's crazy! Nothing so insane would ever even occur to you!

I think you feigned innocence a couple of times before but this is a pretty egregious specimen of it.

You brought up scientific literacy for the same reason you proposed that fishermen might be ichthyologists, because you're trying to muddy the discussion with tangentially related claims you can pretend were what you really meant. You were hoping to scam your way into making arguments about your original statements that replaced "expert" with "scientifically literate".

Lets not turn this into a semantics argument.
Your entire schtick has been casting around desperately trying to conjure up some definition of the words you used such that what you said makes sense. But now you want to avoid talking about semantics?

The non-expert is less qualified of drawing accurate conclusions from the data set than an expert. The non-expert can certainly censure those conclusions and ask questions, but as far as extracting information from the data set they would be less qualified than the expert. This is why in my last post I attempted to clear the air on this distinction.
Your last post attempted to claim that your words meant something different than they said. "Less qualified" means nothing at all like "not capable". Muddying the water, not clearing the air.

Again, my contention has nothing to do with whether the science is accurate or not.
You're kinda, well, flat-out lying there:

"The ichthyologist has an expertise in his particular field of study, and is therefore able to draw more accurate conclusions on the data than a non-expert in his field of study."

You could certainly retract or correct that statement but pretending that you didn't say it isn't going to get me to accept a revisionist history of your contentions.

My contention is you found it fallacious in reasoning to give more credence to the relevant experts conclusions on the data seat over a non-experts conclusions on the data set.
No one, not you or I, said anything about credence.

Nor did I say anything specifically about non-experts; I simply said that being the ichthyologist who collected the evidence does not make one more correct in one's conclusions.

I said that anyone with access to the evidence might be able to draw more correct conclusions and I stand by that. Your response, in which you said that being an expert makes one more correct, is untrue.

Appealing to authority would be more like saying democracy is true because scientist X said so. Yes, it is fallacious and appealing to authority to say theory X is true because scientist X concluded so.
...or that theory X is more accurate because expert X concluded so. Therefore, your statement that this is the case was fallacious.

However, it isn't appealing to authority to give more credence to expert X's conclusions on a data set over layman Y's conclusions on the data set.
Like I said, it would have been great if you had said that - sure, it's true - but you didn't say anything about credence. You made some unempirical generalizations that aren't sound logic and which would not be accepted in science.

As you've pointed out, we can't be experts in everything.
? I don't think I said anything like that. In fact, this pretty much simply appears to be another rhetorical gambit.

Seriously, you can get away with feigning innocence or twiddling with definitions or laying out circular logic once or twice, and probably convince people it was really an accident, especially with a mea culpa. But doing it again and again and again, and getting caught without responding or skipping a beat, is just an alert that you're willing to shamelessly pull those sorts of theatrics.

At some point, all of us are going to have to appeal to some authority.
Unless, y'know, you're engaged in science.

Maybe I should have started out with that statement and delve from there with you.
So you're sticking by "experts' conclusions are more accurate" and "only experts can draw conclusions from their data", huh? You're going to pretend that those were simply innovative phrasings and that they're logically equivalent to the positions you've pulled back to?

I can't say what you should've done because it does not appear to me that your aim is to be truthful or accurate. But playing all of these rhetorical games to avoid admitting that the generalizations you made weren't valid definitely was not any way to convince me that you wanted to talk straight about anything.
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  • #36


If this was in any way an analogy to your original statements - if you had asked a question like "Wouldn't you trust an ichthyologist more to do a do a marine survey for you?" I would entertain this.
Ok, then entertain it.

You're kinda, well, flat-out lying there:

"The ichthyologist has an expertise in his particular field of study, and is therefore able to draw more accurate conclusions on the data than a non-expert in his field of study."

You could certainly retract or correct that statement but pretending that you didn't say it isn't going to get me to accept a revisionist history of your contentions.
Again, it has nothing to do with whether the science is accurate or not. I mentioned nothing about the peer reviewed process. I'm only contrasting between the expert and the non-expert. It's a rule of thumb I use, and that's what it is a rule of thumb that isn't fallacious in reasoning at all.



No one, not you or I, said anything about credence.

Nor did I say anything specifically about non-experts; I simply said that being the ichthyologist who collected the evidence does not make one more correct in one's conclusions.
And I agree with you. Again, my contention has nothing to do with whether the science is accurate or not.

I said that anyone with access to the evidence might be able to draw more correct conclusions and I stand by that. Your response, in which you said that being an expert makes one more correct, is untrue.
Please explain to me how one might be able to draw more correct conclusions if they had access to the data. Lets use meteorology for example, lets say we gave a layman access to all of the different maps that measure different things in the atmosphere. Now, please explain to me how this layman who has no idea what these maps are telling him can come up with a more accurate forecast than the meteorologist?



...or that theory X is more accurate because expert X concluded so. Therefore, your statement that this is the case was fallacious.
Except this is not what I stated. You're misconstruing my statement.



? I don't think I said anything like that. In fact, this pretty much simply appears to be another rhetorical gambit.
you said:
Bias is necessary in everyday lives. You can't apply scientific rigor to any, or really even most, of the decisions you make.
If I'm not an expert in something, I am going to be bias towards the expert in that something. It is a bias we all must, and even you inevitably make at some point in our lives. Unless, you're claiming to be an expert in every single thing?


So you're sticking by "experts' conclusions are more accurate"
Contrasted with a non-expert's conclusion, they most likely are.
 
  • #37
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i Have to agree with Ivan Seeking on this, that being the fact that not finding something is not the same as finding something does not exist. The scientific method understands this principle though! But, i do understand and appreciate the criticism. It's like the first reply to this argument, scientists are constantly trying to improve their "nets", or their instruments with which they collect data.
 
  • #38


Ok, then entertain it.
So... you're admitting it's not an analogy to your original statements? I don't think you need me to explain to you why I'm not going to follow a red herring.

Again, it has nothing to do with whether the science is accurate or not. I mentioned nothing about the peer reviewed process. I'm only contrasting between the expert and the non-expert. It's a rule of thumb I use, and that's what it is a rule of thumb that isn't fallacious in reasoning at all.
Oh, I see, you were talking about the kind of science that tries to be inaccurate? Even if you actually have rules of thumb like "only experts can draw conclusions from data" your rules of thumb aren't science or the scientific method.

Rules of thumb are for guessing. Guessing isn't part of deciding who drew the correct conclusion in science.

And I agree with you. Again, my contention has nothing to do with whether the science is accurate or not.
Except for the part where all of the preceding posts in the thread were talking about science and your comment talked about the accuracy of scientific conclusions.

Please explain to me how one might be able to draw more correct conclusions if they had access to the data. Lets use meteorology for example, lets say we gave a layman access to all of the different maps that measure different things in the atmosphere. Now, please explain to me how this layman who has no idea what these maps are telling him can come up with a more accurate forecast than the meteorologist?
Bzzzt. "Layman who has no idea" or "layman who is not scientifically literate" is not the category we're talking about - that's another thing, along with "credence", that your rules of thumb made no reference to and I certainly didn't mention. When you claimed that "only experts can draw conclusions" you excluded laymen with experience in the problem domain like fishermen, scientifically literate laymen, and even inexpert scientists.

Except this is not what I stated. You're misconstruing my statement.
I don't think so. Experts being the ones to "draw more accurate conclusions" clearly fits hand-in-hand with "only experts can draw conclusions from the data". You avoided saying "probably" or "most likely" or anything moderating that someone offering up rules of thumb might.

If I'm not an expert in something, I am going to be bias towards the expert in that something. It is a bias we all must, and even you inevitably make at some point in our lives. Unless, you're claiming to be an expert in every single thing?
Even if I was, it would have nothing to do with bias! The conclusions of experts are not automagically unbiased any more than they are automagically accurate or correct.

I can see, though, that since you seem to regard the opinion or best guess of an expert as a substitute for scientific rigor, you probably really thought that was what I meant.

Contrasted with a non-expert's conclusion, they most likely are.
Again, great for guessing, not for science. In science you can't just guess, you must test differing hypotheses. Just assuming that one of them is right and basing further work on it (work that isn't testing it) because it's the one that came from an expert is commiting the fallacy of appealing to authority.

And it's still a total change in tune to go from "only" experts can draw conclusions and experts are "more accurate" to saying they're "most likely" valid or "most likely" accurate, no matter how evasive you are on that count. I'm not going to be ignoring that any more than I'm going to buy it that you were including fishermen as ichthyologists.
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  • #39


i Have to agree with Ivan Seeking on this, that being the fact that not finding something is not the same as finding something does not exist. The scientific method understands this principle though! But, i do understand and appreciate the criticism. It's like the first reply to this argument, scientists are constantly trying to improve their "nets", or their instruments with which they collect data.
Yeah, you're dead-on on that count. I don't know if you saw where hadeka posted a link to the full text; turns out his paragraph was from a section called "Equipment Constructs Results", that was all about improving instruments.
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  • #40


Quasar, this discussion is over. You're not even answering to my response anymore without saying "rhetorical gambits" or "ah ha, I see you're asking me a question so I will not answer this red herring" or whatever warped analysis you have of my statements.

This guy sums up my thoughts on this subject pretty well. If you want to comment on this Quasar you can since I know you'll disagree with most of it.


The Script

"I'm sick and tired of self-appointed so-called experts and their know-it-all, arrogant attitude. Why don't you people stay out of things you know nothing about? To hear you tell it, you know everything and the rest of us are stupid."

I've seen this script before. At this point I'm supposed to get all humble and apologetic and say "There, there. We didn't mean to make you feel bad. You're really a good person and a valuable human being and your opinions do count."

I'm tired of playing that game.

* We're not "self-appointed" or "so-called" experts. We are real experts. We're not "authority figures." We are real authorities.
* It's not arrogance to say what you know professionally. It is arrogance to reject expert opinion without having expertise of your own.
* If hearing the experts say you're wrong makes you feel bad or stupid, that is your problem, not ours. See a therapist and work on your self-esteem. If you think this is rough on the ego, try getting a paper or grant proposal you've worked on for months rejected, something real experts face all the time.
* We don't know everything, but we do know more on our subjects of expertise than other people, especially people with no training at all.
* Unless you have real evidence to back up your opinions, they don't count.
* If you hear something that conflicts with what you think you know, and you don't bother to check it out, you shouldn't feel stupid. You are stupid.
* If you want to take on the experts but won't spend the time, effort and money to become an expert yourself, you're not just stupid. You're lazy, too.
* If you think I'm disrespecting you, you're right. I have no respect for people who are uninformed, get angry when someone contradicts them, but are too lazy to get informed, and too cowardly to face failure, criticism, and the possibility they might have to change their minds. You're not a good person. Nobody who is lazy and cowardly can be called "good."
* Where did you get the idea you're so valuable? There are six billion of us. You're not all that unique. How exactly did you get the notion that you stand so high in the cosmic scheme of things that you have the right to make real experts treat you as an equal without bothering to acquire any knowledge yourself?

So ordinary people aren't as good as Ph.D.'s? People with ordinary jobs make the steel, mine the coal, harvest the wheat, drive the trucks, lay the pipes, string the wires, put out the fires, enforce the laws, keep the records, and do a hundred thousand other things absolutely essential to keeping the world running. They deserve to be honored and respected.


But that doesn't qualify them to have opinions on subjects where they have no expertise.
"Self-Appointed Experts"
 

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