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← Two equally bad fallacies

Starcrash's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by Starcrash

Comment 18 by Jos Gibbons :

Starcrash, you remind me of another little-discussed fallacy I hate, that of assuming that bias is even relevant in a debate. I don't think it is. . . .

I also don't know how true this "that's how French journalists do it" claim is (maybe someone else here does?), but it's a fascinating idea.

I've never heard this before about the French, but that's very interesting if it is true.

I agree that bias is irrelevant... usually. It matters only when discrediting someone's "argument from authority", and only if that authority does not cite any sources but makes assertions based on their "expert opinion".

For instance, I was arguing that gay sex is safer than heterosexual sex in the context of lesbians (a point I've heard made by Christopher Hitchens, I think) and my opponent cited this source. Now you'll notice that this argument from authority was not meant to be that, because the author cites the source of his statement... but that source doesn't support his argument (did he just think that nobody would ever check out his sources? how arrogant!) and so it became merely an argument from authority. And that authority has an obvious bias. In this case it was safe to say that the authority either made this fact up or cited the wrong source, but either way has not backed up his assertion with evidence. Either way, if we have only the word of someone with a bias against lesbians telling us that lesbians have a higher prevalence of STDs than heterosexuals, I'm simply not going to accept this as real evidence.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 00:22:38 UTC | #913266