Re: That idiot Darwin

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Mon Jan 15 2001 - 09:32:31 MST

On Sunday, January 14, 2001 5:45 AM Damien Broderick wrote:
> >if
> >Stephen Hawking tells me his (Theory of Everything), I'm likely to
> BUT I'm not going to
> >think Hawking's must be true because he holds the Lucasian chair at
> >(the chair does not guarantee truth or wisdom), is considered a genius
> >(genius status does not ditto), and an expert in physics (expertise does
> >ditto). (In fact, I disagree with a lot of Stephen Hawking's ideas.:)
> Is that right? *Obviously* those are not reasons for thinking that his
> claims are *true*, but that isn't the point (since there are *no* reasons
> for thinking *anyone's* claims are *true*--just, at best, as good as it
> gets at the moment).

Not even that. Do you think because someone has a high intelligence or the
esteem of his peers that this is the best we can do? That's not so. The
best we can do is try to following the reasoning and see if it is sound and
see if it fits the evidence. This is why I value transparency in argument
and science. (One great thing about cladistics, peer review, open debate is
that all place a premium on transparency.) Arguing from authority is akin
to arguing from a black box.

> But what, other than his hard-won reputation and the
> esteem of his critical peers (emblematized in his Oxford chair), impels
> to prefer to listen to Hawking's views over those of some random claimant?

Past performance. I admit that. However, I don't think this is any
guarantee of future success. At no point am I willing to substitute
Hawking's judgment for my own. Once I do that, I would no longer be
thinking. He would be thinking, I would merely be parroting. And
parroting, no matter who true the original statements are, is still
parroting. A bird saying "The sky is blue" knows little about the color of
the sky.

> (True, I hope that you would only endorse them, should you do so after
> careful scrutiny, in the extent to which you *did* find them really
> convincing and morish, in their own terms; but I really really doubt
> why you read them by preference to, say, the latest aether theory on the

Actually, I don't have time to read all the latest physical theories on the
web. This is one reason I generally stick to mathematics. Less crackpots
and they're easier to spot.:)


Daniel Ust

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