Sunday, March 09, 2008

It has been silent here...

so what have you all been observing? Let's liven things up!


  1. This is me mentioning but not using a "your mom" joke.

  2. I walked into that one. Does your wife know about you and my mom? Do I have to call you Dad now?

  3. Thank God the level of discourse in our small community has never faltered.

  4. Indeed. Seriously, though, what are you folks working on that might be interesting? I'm working on the idea that scientists (and perhaps other experts) ought not be advocates for subjects that involve their research.

    It's a little odd to take this position, I think, because one would think that these are exactly the persons we ought to ask about matters they are expert in. My worry is that due to the nature of their expertise we laypeople cannot check the information that we are given by experts and, worse, we cannot know what would constitute good reasons for coming to conclusions about these matters. We are on the wrong side of an epistemic gap in these cases. It might not be the case that all lay people are unable to grasp the information that they are given, but I think that when it comes to the hard sciences it is difficult to do so for the majority. I'll work up a longer post when I get more structure to my thoughts.

    Any thoughts?

  5. Matteson,

    Does it follow from your theory that Doctors should avoid giving medical advice, and we should avoid taking their advice on account of the epistemic gap? I would think that we go to such experts precisely BECAUSE of the epistemic gap.

  6. Yeah, I think that's exactly the case. We go to experts (and we want there to be experts) because they have a greater...depth of knowledge.

    Maybe I don't have the same worries about doctors that I do about scientists because of the sorts of recommendations that we get from each. The doc gives us advice and treatment and we can check it pretty easily by taking the treatment.

    In the cases that I'm most concerned about, scientists are giving us interpretations of data that is too esoteric for us to begin to interpret ourselves.

    Medicine might also have the advantage of there being a large community and lots of testing before anyone in the public is prescribed a treatment. It's not clear that scientific evaluations happen this way.