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Started by Dallas the Phallus Dec 19, 2011.
Our comforting conviction that [the] world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance. -- Daniel Kahneman
Brian Dunning tends to be right on. However, when it comes to Economics or Politics he doesn't seem to stick to his own guidelines for skeptical inquiry.
Yes, he can manifest the worst of what calls itself skepticism. In medicine as well. For example, in one of a series of InFact videos purporting to tell people The Truth about things, he tells us
There are actually only a tiny number of people who have to avoid gluten, basically those with celiac disease
I pointed out to him some of the recent research on non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which affects about 10% of people, many more than have celiac disease.
But even if this research hadn't been done - saying that only people with celiac disease need to avoid gluten, makes the assumption that the research on people's reactions to gluten is complete!
And there is no reason to think that, and since science has not yet figured out everything about people's reactions to gluten, the best that people can do is to take an empirical approach to whether they're better off with a gluten-free diet.
Brian Dunning making that assumption is an example of a kind of "skeptical" prejudice, making unwarranted claims that science knows more than it does. It's a skeptic not being skeptical about science.
In like manner, if I let myself believe anything on insufficient evidence, there may be no great harm done by the mere belief; it may be true after all, or I may never have occasion to exhibit it in outward acts. But I cannot help doing this great wrong towards Man, that I make myself credulous. The danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough; but that it should become credulous, and lose the habit of testing things and inquiring into them; for then it must sink back into savagery.
William Kingdon Clifford, The Ethics of Belief(1877), Chapter I, "The Duty of Inquiry"Full text of The Ethics of Belief
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