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Grump tank for disgruntled atheists.

Black Sheep are Sheep Too

Aginners who hold ridiculous beliefs that run counter to received wisdom often cite the fact that others agree with their opinion, claiming that those who concur with the fact-logic-based knowledge of experts are easily-fooled sheep. In other words, other black sheep agree with their anti-expert prejudices.

If one wishes to hold a correct position, one must practice critical thinking, which is not to say that one must be negative about any propositions originating with an expert.

"Critical thinking involves assessing the authenticity, accuracy, and/or worth of knowledge claims and arguments. This process requires careful, precise, persistent and objective analysis of any knowledge claim or belief to judge its validity and/or worth."

It is folly to make the automatic assumption that those who are experts in empirical fields are necessarily, or even likely to be, incorrect in their assertions. Value-based disciplines such as politics are obviously much more vulnerable to personal biases, so the opinions of experts in these fields may be more suspect. Nevertheless, few individuals have the time or luxury to assess all available information in a value-based area, and we must rely upon the expertise of those who have expended considerable time and thought.

The more education one receives, the more that one realizes how little one knows, and the more that one must rely upon received wisdom. Still, one must assess the level of expertise and level of bias of those who pass opinions. It is not wise to trust opinions posted on a website that has been set up for the express purpose of attacking the opinions or positions of experts. (It could be argued that, in our disgruntlement, we attack the opinions of hate-tankers, junk-tankers, and those who display cognitive disorders. However, our criticisms are directed at illogic and misinformation, certainly not at expertise.)

Credible experts possess the following attributes:
1. sufficient expertise in the subject matter in question.
2. claims made are within area(s) of expertise.
3. adequate degree of agreement among the other experts in the subject in question.
4. not significantly biased by subjective motivations or prejudices.
5. expertise within a legitimate area or discipline (related to the subject matter).
6. the authority must be identified.

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. . . launched (sans champagne, alas) 10/22/06