Monday, October 07, 2013


Dang - I've done it again!
And I cite.
We simply cannot trust non-experts to grasp the nuances necessary to discuss scientific research and engage in science communication. 
Their lack of accountability for their opinions as compared to “traditional” outlets is downright dangerous, and thus we must do our best ensure that journals and magazines with wide readership do not give credence to unsupported remarks without proper review. While we cannot stifle “free speech”, we have to do what we can to prevent unscientific attacks from damaging the careers of hardworking scientists and writers. This means that major journals should be wary of criticisms, even internal ones, if they have not been properly vetted.
Guilty as charged!
My last post has once again not only not been peer reviewed, but it has instead opined subjectively and meddled with scientific research whilst quite possibly besmirching the reputation of not one, but at least two hardworking scientists and writers - and, that of the selfless benefactor funding their research! And approximately 30 thousand people will likely read it this month and hopefully relay its contents to others!

And the nuances only experts could grasp?
I've heard that one before - it was stupid then and it is stupid now. 
Argumentum ad verecundiam is a fallacy, and since published research is public (dooh) and hopefully not only meant to be read by specialists, anybody who takes the time to read it has every right to comment - and then, it's up to the researchers to decide whether they are really too important, smart, noble, busy, or whatever, to deal with it, or not.

And those irreverent and often moronic posts?
They are. Live with it. Evolve.

We will continue to share in the fun whether you like it or not!


jsd said...

'Argumentum ad verecundiam is a fallacy'

...But what sort of fallacy?

The negation -- appeal to NO authority -- is clearly far worse (rather than formally True) as it means ALL expertise can be discarded, which is the path of cranks.

Evaluating whether someone has the expertise to discuss a subject requires experts in that subject.

Marie Levine -- high priestess of Ritter Cult -- has claimed to me that the other shark scientists have failed to grasp Ritter's 'methodology'. And I think she was being serious. The truth, of course, is that they have grasped his 'methodology' all too well -- as anyone with a basic grasp of science can see. But this is an egregious example -- many are considerably more difficult/complex/subtle.

The Argumentum ad verecundiam is better described as something of which to be wary: Ritter LOVES to flaunt his doctorate as evidence that he is pontificating from a position of authority and is therefore right / SVS has a huge chip on his shoulder because he has NO scientific qualifications) -- he HATES all PhDs.

The question arises how the wariness for evaluating the application of the Argumentum ad verecundiam should itself be evaluated. Does that entail another sort of expertise, which, presumably, yields another Argumentum ad verecundiam...

...And another?

...And another?



...I still say Federer is the GOAT.

DaShark said...


Argumentum ad verecundiam is a logical fallacy insofar as it purports that something is correct simply because it comes from an authoritative source.

Nobody is negating authority and expertise - but every assertion needs to be examined based on its merits and not based on its authorship.


jsd said...

OK -- except when it comes to discussing Federer.

I was hoping for a great big bun fight about science, pseudoscience, charlatans and cranks as applied to shark experts -- and you spoilt it.

...Back to disproving Einstein.

DaShark said...

Yer trying to jerk the wrong chain here buddy...

I'm not Swiss - I'm British by nationality, Germanic by genes, Italian by culture - and I've left Switzerland because I didn't like it there anymore.

Re the fight - how can we fight about something where our opinions appear to coincide 100% all of the time! :)