Skepticism and Consensus

“Nevertheless the opinion of experts, when it is unanimous, must be accepted by non-experts as more likely to be right than the opposite opinion. The scepticism that I advocate amounts only to this: (1) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain; (2) that when they are not [Read More…]

Further History-Denialism from Jerry Coyne

It boggles my mind and frustrates me when anyone engages in denialism, whether in science, history, or any other area. But when someone who has worked hard to combat denialism does it, it can seem downright baffling. But Jerry Coyne has done precisely that in the past, and continues to do so. In a recent blog post [Read More…]

Galileo was Wrong (Richard Carrier and Arguing from Consensus)

Richard Carrier has posted on arguments from consensus on his blog. It is, like most of his posts, unnecessarily long to make the point that it seeks to. Carrier suggests that laypeople can and should evaluate the arguments of experts, even with respect to the consensus. That seems to me strikingly odd – if laypeople [Read More…]

Are Biblioblogs Dying?

Brian LePort and then Claude Mariottini asked whether biblioblogs are dying. No, they aren't. Of course, Brian went on to ask the question in a manner more focused on blogs about the Bible run by laypeople and students. With more professors and professionals blogging, there may well be a decline in interest in some biblioblogs. [Read More…]

The Death of Expertise

I fear we are witnessing the “death of expertise”: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all. Tom Nichols, “The Death of Expertise,” The Federalist [Read more…]

The Experts Can Be Wrong

The inanity of the frequent refrain of peddlers of pseudoscience and pseudoscholarship that “Even the experts can be wrong” is perhaps best illustrated be comparison with expertise in another domain. Even professional musicians can play wrong notes. But that doesn’t make all players of instruments equal, nor does it make it equally or more likely [Read More…]

The Penalty for Citing Wikipedia

John Anderson shared on Facebook the wonderful threat he makes to students if they should dare to cite Wikipedia in an assignment. He said he tells them he will change the Wikipedia article, penalize them for citing Wikipedia, and then penalize them again for not citing it accurately! The point he is trying to get [Read More…]

Restoring Jesus

I’ve felt like there was some analogy or parable to be made from the recent case of a parishioner trying to do an amateur restoration of a famous painting, with this result: Perhaps the best or at least the most relevant analogy for the sorts of subjects that I deal with is this: The figure [Read More…]

Creationists, Mythicists, and the Schroedinger’s Scholar Fallacy

One feature that young-earth creationists, mythicists, and other proponents of pseudoscholarly ideas have in common in the way they treat the writings of actual experts in the field in question. On the one hand, they will mine the writings of experts for sound bites and quotes that seem to support their viewpoint, and will pepper [Read More…]