“But My Guru”

This square is for when contrarians buttress their position by dropping the name of an old famous guy. Often about #ButScience; the epitome is #ButGalileo; for conversion stories, see #ButDamascus.

Once the name dropped matters more than the scientific point being made, the authority claim may veer into idolatry. Attacking that guru is then fair game {1}. Best remains to show how the guru’s fame is unrelated to the claim and to redirect the exchange to the claim itself.

Examples

Arrhenius was not an alarmist. He saw the benefits of more CO2.

(Patrick)

Arrhenius said it would be a good thing but it hasn’t happened anyway.

(Neasden)

Svante Arrhenius, the Swedish Social Democrat who created the world’s first climate model in the 1890s, was also an enthusiastic eugenicist.

(Anatoly)

Objections and Replies

Freeman. Freeman never denied climate change was a problem, only—
☞ Of course he did.

Galileo. Galileo was also a contrarian, and he was right about—
☞ The Galileo Gambit is so common I dedicate a page to it.

Greatest. My guru is one of the greatest physicists of the modern era—
☞ Skepticism doesn’t cohere with hero glorification. Here’s an idea: for every contrarian hero you find I will match one; if I can you lose. Wanna play?

Feynman.
☞ Surely Richard is a creep.

Smear. My favorite guru is is the target of a smear blog—
☞ If everything is documented, true, and relevant, fine with me.

That guru also said

Notes

{1} Ad Homs. Appeals to authority can be shot down fair and square by undermining credentials, background, funding, deeds, connections, etc.

{} Bench. Contrarians have a thin bench. Hence the namedropping.

{} Better. We need better contrarian models. Here are mine.

{} Dick. Often named for moralizing sake. Moralism sucks.

{} Eunice. Eunice Foote was the first scientist to publish a paper connecting CO2 and temperatures. Father figures are first and foremost figures.

{} Gurus. Many gurus appear in my Index. Do your own opposition research. Better, keep your eye on the ball.

{} Symmetry. Shout outs to gurus seldom sound cool.

{} Toy. Svante is my toy example because he’s the father figure of global warming and because there are too many authorities to cite. He also happened to entertain dubious ideas. There are no heroes anymore.

{} We Are Science.

Resources

2014-07; But Volcanoes; Andy’s response to the meme.

2019-11. Contrarian Models.

2018-09; We Are Science; Only the collective endeavor matters.

2017*. #NoHeroes

Further Readings

2015-08. Was Einstein the First to Invent E = mc2?

2014-07. The Problem of Richard Feynman.

Climateball Episodes

2014-02; Is Climate Science falsifiable?; the ultimate thread on Popper.