Of all the silly things written on the subject of global warming, Marcus’s and Lapidos’s offerings are surely among the most recent. Apart from that they’re entirely typical of the genre of global-warmist opinion journalism, in which ignorant journalists taunt politicians for their ignorance but have no argument beyond an appeal to authority. Lapidos: “Does Mr. Rubio think scientists are lying? Or that they don’t know what they’re talking about? Either way, what leads him to believe that the ‘portrait’ of climate change offered by scientists is inaccurate?”
Appeals to authority aren’t necessarily fallacious, except in the realm of formal deductive logic, where they entail adopting the unfounded premise that the authority is infallible. In informal logic–such as political debate at its best–an appeal to authority can be a sound argument if the authority is both relevant and trusted. And when dealing with complicated matters in which one lacks specialized expertise. As Michael Gerson puts it in the Washington Post: “Our intuitions are useless here. The only possible answers come from science. And for non-scientists, this requires a modicum of trust in the scientific enterprise.”
Do you see the subtle problem with Gerson’s formulation? The injunction have trust after tossing aside your intuition is at best a contradiction in terms, at worst a con.
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