“But Credentials”

Judgments implicate authority, and credentials bolster authority. Attacking credentials undermines our trust in their claims. This should be fair game, as long as we can’t evaluate the claims themselves.

This square is implied by #ButMyGuru and #ButScapegoat, and is the inverse of #ButDebateMe, when offered as a reason to close the exchange.

Examples

What’s your background? Shiva is an MIT pHD. What are you?

(Calgary, defending the inventor of Email)

[A]s a life-long life-scientist I know that even at 410 ppm CO2 is too low for maximum plant growth, and that it is entirely beneficial for life.

(Patrick, who worked all his life as a PR guy for various industries)

Objections and Replies

Anonymous. You refuse to own anything, because you’re anonymous
You must be new to ClimateBall. A pseudonym has persistence.

(Coward) You’re a coward
Reply. What I say under my name is my honor. A pseudonym carries responsibilities. It also limits authoritativeness. Try to hold a position in ClimateBall without relying on your authority of your own person and see how it goes.

(Nobody) You’re a nobody
Reply. I’m a ninja. What I claim stands on the evidence I offer. Disrespect me at your own peril. See if I care.

(Nothing) Therefore you know nothing
Reply. It’s also harder to convince when bolstering no credentials. Ninjas’ power come for the skillz they display, not from some studies they did decades ago in unrelated disciplines.

(Asshat) Anonymity allows you to be an asshat—
Reply. As opposed to Nassim’s SpeedoScience, no doubt. Or perhaps Donald? Srsly, you should think about the constraints pseudonymity imposes and the influence branding one’s real self affords.

Climate scientist. This person isn’t a climate scientist—
☞ Publishing climate science papers ought to be good enough.

Expertise. There are different kinds of expertise—
☞ Sounds like special pleading to me.

Scientist. I am a scientist and—
☞ Where’s your work on climate science?

Studies. This person has not studied this or that—
☞ Climate is a complex topic, and includes researchers studying ecology, geography, economics, etc. Nobody studied them all.

Tetlock. Philip shows how expert opinion is—
☞ The first conclusion one should take from Philip’s work is to disregard it.

Notes

{1} Credibility. Public reason is powered by credibility. Credibility can be applied to claims, to evidence basis, and to authorities.

{2} Pseudonymity. Anonymity isn’t pseudonymity. I claim authorship for everything I write. There is a long tradition of pseudonyms, e.g. Nicolas Bourbaki or Banksy. When faced with the example of Publius or Cato, Freedom Fighters usually throw another squirrel in the fight.

{Public Reason} Public reason is a race to credibility. We seek credible claims made by credible authorities on the basis of credible evidence. It is not a boxing match.

They’re too useful heuristics to play X-does-not-imply-Y games with Teddie.