Credentialism

Over at pharyngula (which I *cannot pronounce… I could never be a biologist) there is an account of the silly ID’s folks attack on Chris Mooney for not having the right credentials to talk about the science. Its a silly attack, of course, and PZ dutifully rips it apart (I’m a bit baffled as to why ID is a scientific and *legal* issue… but anyway).

This post is only to point out that the reverse argument is used, just as foolishly: ie, “we can’t possibly listen to you, you’re a scientist who knows about the subject, and therefore obviously biased… we need someone *without* credentials to talk impartially about this…”.

Comments

  1. #1 The Ridger
    2006/09/18

    Or, as Chris himself says, that the logical result is that there can be no science journalism at all.

  2. #2 Eli Rabett
    2006/09/18

    Welcome to Pielkeland…..

  3. #3 outeast
    2006/09/19

    C’mon, Luskin’s an attorney: ID has to be a legal issue because otherwise Luskin himself would be unable to attack Mooney for discussing a subject in which he has no formal training… Heh heh

  4. #4 N. Joseph Potts
    2006/09/19

    Noise from the Outside (does ID stand for identification?):

    There’s an inescapable irony to knowledge of a subject: it typically arises from an INTEREST in a subject, and very seldom a truly detached interest. Aside from whatever agenda might have motivated one’s first inquiries into a body of knowledge, other agendas (“interests” as in “conflict of interest”) arise quite rapidly as the particular path of one’s inquiries lead to conclusions and predilections in which one eventually invests one’s credibility and reputation.

    Common among these is “professional interest.” One takes, let’s say, the CPA (Chartered Accountant) exam and passes it (as I did). Or joins a labor union. Or earns a PhD. Most people eventually acquire the interests of one’s co-cogniscenti, at least as one perceives them. And one violates these interests at one’s peril (see labor unions).

    Detachment usually DIMINISHES with one’s growing knowledge of any field. If you don’t think so, just try blindly accepting any recommendation your friendly mechanic down at the garage might give you next time you bring your car in.

    He’s the expert, isn’t he?

  5. #5 Brian S.
    2006/09/20

    As a lawyer, I think it’s incredibly pretentious for Luskin to claim equal expertise with a biologist in analyzing ID. It makes me wonder about the quality of his legal analysis.

    Saying that a journalist whose field of expertise is communicating science to the public should not be listened to is itself ridiculous.

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