Re: That idiot Darwin

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sat Jan 13 2001 - 22:48:17 MST

At 12:22 AM 14/01/01 -0800, Daniel Ust wrote:

>> But then, hey, what's the opinion of the Nobel-laureate co-untangler of DNA
>> structure and code compared with those mighty unheralded geniuses who
>> shatter the myths of Darwinism?

>Don't argue from authority! ... No need to invoke prize winning statuses
>or other achievments -- not that this is ever good.

Hmm. This is an interesting issue, since in science (unlike many other
fields of human endeavor) authorities often have this status granted them
by their peers not due to birth or wealth or winsomeness or force of arms,
but because of track record in their fields of expertise.

Acknowledged authority thus becomes a useful shorthand, inviting us to
consult one rather than another body of claim and argument. Granted, this
heuristic sometimes breaks down, when the brash innovator from the wrong
sides of the track record comes up with a snazzy paradigm buster. But
usually not. Science mostly *is* cumulative, despite research program and
paradigm discontinuities.

That being the case, it makes plenty of sense to heed, by preference, the
acknowledged authorities in the first, second and third instance, and to
turn to the unheralded self-proclaimed geniuses as a last resort of
desperation (and, of course, for fun and sport).

Damien Broderick

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:19 MDT