Teleri (telerib) wrote,


I hate those emails which technically aren't actually offensive but really are a thin smokescreen for something I want to carpet bomb.

One school of scholarship says "Mr. Zilch is and expert, so I will accept what he says as being the most valid, true, or most likely. Others are not experts so I will dismiss what they say or at least put it in perspective and subordinate it. I'm not an expert, what do I know!"

The other school says, "Mr. Zilch presents these facts and this logic to support his view. I have considered the facts and examined the logic and find it sound. To anyone else who presents facts and logic, I will give the same consideration. I am just as capable of dealing with facts and logic as anyone else."

Are non-experts capable of having insights into a field? Sure! Should we blindly accept whatever an expert tells us? No!

But this is really a wind-up to some thinly-veiled anti-intellectualism. Experts don't know anything, not really. All their so-called "experience" and "knowledge" just mean that they're hidebound and too attached to one worldview. My vigorous and untrained brain will cleave through their blinders and awaken them to things they've never thought before!

Yeah, that happens a lot less frequently than you'd think.

And you know what? You're not just as capable of dealing with facts and logic as you think you are. Mostly because... well, how the hell do you know if you're being given facts or not? Snopes would not need to exist if people were as good at this as the poster seems to think.

And even if you can verify that some X is true, the conversation almost never stops there. "X is true, and therefore Y follows."

Therefore Y follows. Why? "Logic!" Yeah, that's usually an appeal to "common sense," by which we mean "common usage of 20th-21st century USA, probably middle to upper class." Very reliable analytic method, that. It totally works for science, engineering, history and sociology. Because our way of thinking is invariant across time and space!

Arrrrrgh. I have no idea how to reply to this without being a flaming troll.
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