If but to nip the only criticism we ever receive over here at UNR SFL in the bud, I ask you the following: in what other area (besides politics) do the personality traits of a claimant have anything whatsoever to do with whether or not a claim should be accepted as true or false? In nearly every other realm of discourse it is patently absurd to resort to the “He’s being mean” argument. It shouldn’t matter to the physicist whether or not a colleague is rude, only whether or not that colleague’s theories are correct.
Why is it then that many seem to ready to accept as profound wisdom the idea that “Honey is the best way to attract flies”? We all understand that if we say things nicely to one another we are more likely to enjoy each other’s presence. I grant this entirely, I’m not ignorant of this aspect of the world. I understand entirely that if I were to try to convince a child that “you probably shouldn’t believe everything you hear without considering the evidence” I shouldn’t start off with “You’re stupid for having believed that stupid silly thought.”
But that’s not what we’re doing. None of you are children. You should all know by now that it is evidence and logic and reason that should guide you to your beliefs. If you don’t, then let me painstakingly clear: evidence and logic and reason should guide you to your beliefs. It doesn’t matter how nicely someone says a lie nor how loudly one shouts a fact, claims are independent of both the claimant and how they are being claimed. What is true for me in America is true for someone else in Egypt. This is why there is no such thing as Democratic science or Republican mathematics.
It becomes quite frustrating to have to explain this to so many people who come to our site, who we presume are all decent, intelligent people: You should all know this by now. And to pretend that you don’t or to pretend that demeanor actually has some import on a claim being made, is just aggravating beyond belief. Hence, it is all too common for many of us to get tired of our Inside Voices. This leads ultimately to “being mean.” Which apparently leads to the people whose beliefs we are criticizing to proclaim that we are “being mean.” We should all see this for the red herring it is to all debate.
I guess to wrap this up:
1) You should be convinced by logic and evidence above all else.
2) Claims are independent of the claimant and how they are being claimed.
3) We’re all adults and the fingerpointing counterargument of “they’re being mean” has absolutely no effect on any of us.
4) If you would like to criticize us, attack our beliefs, because attacking our demeanor is ultimately just a form of “ad hominem” attack which does not bolster your claim.
We get it, we’re mean, we can either move on to such important issues as stem cell research, foreign policy, economic theory, science education, individual sovereignty or one of a million other crucial issues or we can bog ourselves down in pseudo-niceties and taddle-telling to a teacher that isn’t there.