Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Hypocrisy of Appeal to Authority Diatribes

One of the most prevalent forms of hypocrisy on the J-Blogs is the misuse of the "Appeal to Authority" issue.

The ENTIRE premise of the Natan Slifkin books, and the supporters thereof, is based solely on appeal to authority. Those who support Natan Slifkin's ventures, or 99.9% percent of them, including one Natan Slifkin himself, are basing themselves on the notion that the theories, that 'need to be reconciled' with the outlook and descriptions of the Torah, are weighty, because the great unbiased experts espouse them. If a second or third-rate scientist would offer other possible interpretations to the data available, he would be disregarded as a minority opinion.

There is a credentialed anatomical scientist, a Ph.D. at Idaho State University, who is working on demonstrating that BigFoot once existed. Now, he may be right, with a Ph.D. and all. Does anyone out there on the J-blogs know better than this Ph.D. in anatomy? I think not. Yet, I have a sneaky suspicion that none of you reasonable ladies and gents takes this fellow seriously. Why not? It is based on appeal to authority. Period. Because the other people out there who are acknowledged experts laugh him off, and even feel embarrassed by his quest.

If you think you might, ask yourself this: Would you accept a scientist's opinion that evolution could not have happened, based on a theory that has the same 'truth probability' in your mind of the existence of BigFoot, as a valid approach of a Rabbi to upholding the Torah's version of events vs. Harvard and Yale's version?

Now, in my comments on my recent post, I was chastised for being a bit disdainful as to the relative value of the opinion of Ms. Rachel Ararat on the interpretation of an Agadda in the Gemara, as opposed to that of Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt"l, as a violation of the Rambam's exhortation to "Accept the truth from whomever said it." This might be the winning ticket, the goldmine of true Hashkafas HaTorah!

This is as ridiculous as calling me out for not wanting to read the opinion of Dennis Rodman on brain surgery when I have Harvey Cushing available. 'Accept the truth from whomever says it' zogt der Rambam! Read the Rodman treatise on brain surgery, and if it is true, accept it!

How inane. I know that Rodman hath no expertise in brain surgery, and I won't bother. Thank you very much.

When asked to judge the relative value of an interpretation of Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt"l, accepted the world over as one of the four or five top experts in Hashkafas HaTorah, vis-a-vis incorporating it into my outlook, don't expect me to give any credence to one who has nothing to approach such credential.

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