- Jan 2016
The Argument from Authority Fallacy is a very real thing. If I were to say "The speed of light is a constant because Albert Einstein said so", that's an argument from authority. The claim that the speed of light is a constant needs to be backed up by much more robust evidence than that, even though Einstein was an authority on physics.
An even more obvious example would be if someone were to say that "Trade wars are good and easy to win, because President Trump said so", because Donald Trump is in NO way an authority on international trade.
But the Argument from Authority can be and is being taken to ridiculous extremes today. In an extreme form, it would lead you to reject all expert testimony in courtroom cases, because that is, after all, an 'appeal to authority'. Are you disputing this?
Taken to an extreme, it would lead you to reject the petition that was signed by 72 Nobel Laureate scientists in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine/Physiology, and sent to the Supreme Court of the United States, when the SCOTUS was considering whether the teaching of 'scientific creationism' should be allowed in our public schools. In fact, I rather imagine that you would regard such a petition as utterly irrelevant, and a fine example of an 'Appeal to Authority'.
Taken to an extreme, it would lead you to reject, as utterly irrelevant, the petition signed by more than 8000 law professors, stating that they found that Brett Kavanaugh lacked the temperament necessary to be a SCOTUS justice.
And taken to an extreme, it would lead you to reject, as utterly irrelevant, the signed statement by more than 800 former federal prosecutors saying that in their judgment, Donald Trump committed felonies in office.
Taken to its most ridiculous extreme, the Argument from Authority Fallacy should lead us to simply close down our colleges and universities, since one of the major purposes for their existence is to create and produce the very experts and authorities that our society NEEDS to function and thrive.