Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On Expertise and Badassery

[Motivational Poster goes here when I find the one I'm looking for]

Truth Surge posted a rant recently, and made a comparison between expertise and badassery: If you have to do something to claim it, you probably don't have it. For example, when Dr. "I'm a neurosurgeon!" Egnor makes a series of fallacious arguments based on century-old canards faces off against a skeptic who points out those fallacies and points to evidence, fulfilled scientific predictions, and so forth, well, who are you going to trust more?

Well, I imagine a sensible person would trust the guy backing up what he's saying, rather than someone trying argument by letters after his name. Unfortunately, there aren't as many sensible people out there as I'd like there to be. An expert is someone who knows the field, can find evidence, and so forth. In short, an expert can get results in academic matters, just like a badass gets results in action movie matters. Vocabulary and lab coats don't define a scientist anymore than gimmicks define a badass.

Science is a field where your standing is determined by the sorts of results you can get: You make predictions based on a hypothesis or theory, and you get results. If the results support the hypothesis, yay, now get someone else to replicate/confirm the results. If the results falsify the hypothesis, well, time to refine or throw out the hypothesis.

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