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"Appealing to Authority": Legitimate approach or not?

In my various debates with climate change deniers, I have often been accused of "appealing to authority", i.e. judging the worthiness of an opinion based on the credentials of the person and/or organisation that presented it. This, to me, is a sensible and logical thing to do, since no-one would really expect an artist to have a good working knowledge of passenger jetliner mechanics, or actually be unleased on a jetliner if it required some maintenance, for the simple reason that this task is properly the job of a qualified aircraft mechanic, not an artist.

Oh but how they moan. Interestingly though, I've just seen this comment on a blog piece about appealing to authority which explains the deniers tactics in this area very well:

"...climate change deniers seem to use the illegitimacy of arguments from authority to dismiss the validity of the scientific consensus that is arrayed against them. That is to say, they invoke the 'marketplace of ideas' fallacy that expert and non-expert opinions are equally valid instead. However, they have no problem heaping praise upon – and almost indulging in idol-worship of – a “friendly” non-expert like Monckton or, even more so, a genuine (but no less mistaken) expert like Lindzen."

Barry Bickmore, writing on Climate Asylum, appears to have found himself in exactly the same situation as I found myself with Willis Eschenbach and What's Up With That:

"Several months ago I wrote a post here about how Lord Christopher Monckton’s handler, Bob Ferguson, had tried to get me to do a live debate with Monckton.  I declined, because I felt that live debates favor people who, well… make up whatever they want.  Instead, I proposed a written online debate, in which we would have time to check each other’s sources.  This proposal was flatly refused."

Some of these deniers are pretty sneaky, but given they are so good at lying, that shouldn't be too much of a surprise. And they will try any rotten tactic they can to avoid listening to or accepting facts while also trying to convince others to accept their nonsense.


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