Science and the Appeal to Authority

July 31, 2019

 

People will believe just about anything. But if you really want to get wide spread acceptance for an idea just say "Scientists have discovered that ..." and before you know it a theory is accepted as fact and spreads like wildfire across the internet. 

 

It's called an appeal to authority and we see it all the time. The problem is, an appeal to authority is a fallacy in terms of sound logic. It's where someone is assumed to be correct because they are an expert on the subject. But just because you're and expert doesn't mean that what your saying is true. Make sense? 

 

You don't even have to be an expert anymore for people to believe you. Just placing "Scientist" in your title seems to be all it takes for someone to take you say as fact. A good example is Bill Nye "the Science Guy". He isn't even a scientist, he is a mechanical engineer by training, yet is quick to voice all sorts of "evidence" as scientific fact like this wildly circulated video on climate change: 

 

 

Before we are so quick to believe Bill Nye or even traditionally schooled scientists, shouldn't we be asking where their proof comes from? Is it fact or fiction? There is as much data for every argument as there is against it. Has all of this evidence been weighed, and can the scientist offer a sound rebuttal to the evidence that contradicts their argument? 

 

Let's not forget that scientists are paid. They need to justify their research to continue to receive funding. That doesn't mean that all scientists are manipulated, but some are. Remember that the cigarette industry paid doctors to promote cigarette smoking as healthy, and later funded plenty of scientists who wrote letters discrediting studies linking secondhand smoke to lung cancer. 

 

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