Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The most common use for invoking "argument from authority" on the Internet

Is crank self-protection. In this video a mathematician calmly explains why 0! = 1. In the comments, some crank shows up and declares the mathematician doesn't know what he is talking about, and he has offered no evidence at all. When they guy won't listen to anything anyone says, people note, "Well, every mathematician in the world disagrees with you."

And of course he rolls out... "Appeal to authority."

But when someone is so obsessed with some bugbear that he can't grasp the simplest arguments for some point, an appeal to authority is a perfectly valid move.

1 comment:

  1. Gene: you are being very nice. I would say that I don't know if that guy is a crank so much as... well, I don't think that there is a polite way to say this. Probably "obtuse" would be the most friendly way of putting it.


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