Monthly Archives: June 2017

Appeal to Authority

Well, I have found Facebook is good for more than pictures of kittens and raising my blood pressure this week.  Got into an interesting debate on climate and got  accused of committing the logical Fallacy of Appeal to Authority

This accusation came about because in the previous post where I was given a link to a website created by a self professed  entrepreneur with no background in the study of climates that I preferred to base my position on listening to the debate on the subject of experts in the field.  This was held to be citing, appealing, to authority as a reason why my position on climate change was correct.  This has spurred me on to look up just what does constitute the informal logical fallacy of Appeal to Authority.

I went to just two sources, my textbook from my collage years (An Intorduction to Logic) an Wikipedia.  As they both agreed in form, if not detail, I did not bother with more research.

It should be noted that Appeal to Authority is no always an informal Fallicy, as is shown below

The argument is a defeasible argument and a statistical syllogism taking the form:

X is an expert on subject Y,
X claims A. (A is within subject Y.)
Therefore, A is probably true.

In actual fact the fallicy should be called Appeal to Unqualified Authority and/or Appeal to uncritical acceptance of Authority. An example of the former is

X is an expert on subject Y,
X claims A. (A is NOT within subject Y.)
Therefore, A is probably true.

In the later case

X is an expert on subject Y,
X claims A. (A Has not been study or researched by X)
Therefore, A is probably true.

As can clearly be seen these thre syllogisms are very simular but the second and third are fallacies.  The first because while A is an Expert A is not an Expert in the subject dealing with A.  The second is a bit more tricky in that X is and Expert in the Subject Y and A is found in Subject Y but X has no expertise in subset of Subject Y which A is a part.

This last is why listening to the Experts debate the subject is so important.  The two most important question a person who is being asked to accept the Appeal to Authority is

1) Is the person(s) really an expert in the subject

If so

2) Is the positions being put forward in the preview of the expertise.

So what does this all mean to the person(s) debating?  It is to as it is difficult do.  Listen carefully and the go check the credentials of the expert being cited.

Trump & Paris

So, Pres. Trump has gone and done it.  He kept his promise to all those people who supported him because they think that doing something about Global Climate change has or will do something to harm him.  This action was not just taken for the benefit of the coal industry.  Pres Trump, or perhaps some of his advisors know that the causes of the decline of the use of coal and the consequently decline of the coal industry has little or nothing to do with the effort to do something about global warming.

It has been known for a very long time, on the order of 150+ years, that the burning of coal is very very dirty.  Just read some of the old Victorian novels if you doubt me, they have many a colorful passage about the coal smoke of the industrial cities.  Some even have graphic bits about the coal ash mountains and the effect on the lovely little village that was destroyed by the ash slide.  No, what Pres. Trump did today has a much more sinister foundation.

I submit that Pres. Trump withdrew from the Paris Accords for two simple political reasons that had little to do with economics or climate.  He withdrew to distract the media and the public from  maelstrom that has been his administration and that is threatening to gain in ferocity next week.  He also took today’s action to try and  shore-up his weakening political base, both in the country and in the Congress.  We will have to wait and see if this, in fact achieves it’s goals.

Personally, I think it will be just one more loose tree being thrown around in the coming EF5 that our dear President has been ignoring.