Ad Hoc Authority

May 26, 2020-

I began reading the National Geographic, for the month of June, whilst doing my laundry, this afternoon. One of the opinion pieces, about the effect of satire and humour, in getting people to understand science, contained the curious statement that “most scientists” agree the GMO-foods are safe to eat-and that Jimmy Kimmel says they’re safe to eat, as well.

I have never heard Mr. Kimmel speak, about anything. When people talk about dietary or nutritional matters, their main frames of reference are: Their dietary needs and preferences; their investments (GMO foods are lucrative) and their aversion to what they see as lapses in efficiency (Small farms and organic methods are often cited as being “inefficient.”)

I also have a problem with “most…….”. It reminds me of the phrase, “They’re all doing it”. Not being a lemming, or a sheep, I have to weigh trends in my mind, before followong along. Nebulous citations, or quoting lay people, who may or may not be authoritative, or articulate, are not altogether convincing.

Many of the problems into which we have fallen, today, are the results of having followed the words of the loudest voice in the room. Ad hoc authority figures have risen up, at various levels of national life-and in other countries, as well. They set policy by feeling their way. I have to caution my readers, to revert back to conducting scrutiny, to the best of your ability, and not taking anything at face value.

Things that may, or may not, be safe, are not ascertained by saying “The scientists say it’s so!” What scientists? Working for whom? Where are their studies, and the peer reviews, published?

2 thoughts on “Ad Hoc Authority

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