Monday, December 1, 2008

Do they teach logic in Journalism School?

On November 30, 2008 Mr. Kirby posted an article on AoA entitled "The List Keeps Growing: David Kirby on the Autism Vaccine Connection" where he is chortling over Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Scientific Officer at the UK Department of Health comment thus adding him to the list Mr. Kirby maintains of people who have expressed opinions about Autism and whether there should be more research.

If they do teach logic in journalism school. Mr. Kirby must have snoozed through the class on the Appeal to Authority, and/or (most likely and) the Appeal to Popularity.

In the former, "Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true." (Emphasis added).

In the latter, "...popular opinion can be, and quite often is, mistaken. Hindsight makes this clear: there were times when the majority of the population believed that the Earth is the still centre of the universe, and that diseases are caused by evil spirits; neither of these ideas was true, despite its popularity. ..."

Do not be confused by this. I do want more research, especially into the genetic areas. If, during the course of genetic research it is shown that there is some likelihood that environmental factors do play a role in causation, then that finding should be followed-up. I consider it a waste of money to focus on environmental causation simply because there is no evidence to sugges that this exists. Spend the limited research money on areas which are likely to produce results.

AoA is replete with numerous instances of the use of logical fallacies. In fact, if they did not use logical fallacies, they would use no logic at all.

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