“But Credentials”

Life is simpler with attacks or appeals to authority.


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

[PATRICK] [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.

Objections and Replies


(Climate) This person isn’t a climate scientist
Reply. Publishing climate science papers ought to be good enough.

(Expertise) There are different kinds of expertise—
Reply. Sounds like special pleading to me.

(Study) This person has not studied this or that
Reply. Climate is a complex topic, and includes researchers studying ecology, geography, economics, etc. Nobody studied them all.

Reply. The first conclusion one should take from Philip’s work on expert opinion is to disregard it.


{Ad Hominem} Credentials bolster authority. Attacking credentials undermines authority. Both can be read as ad hominem arguments.

{Cf.} This square may be implied by #ButAnonymous, #ButMyGuru, and #ButScapegoat.

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

{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.