Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Argument and Evidence, Not Credential

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jun 26, 2006

My response to a piece of silliness on TCS.

Having actually read Chomsky on both linguistics and politics, unlike (apparently) the author, I can assert that Chomsky bases his criticisms of the U.S. government on meticulous research and bidingly valid reasoning.

This is how it is supposed to work. You don't take somebody's opinion as fact just because he or she has some title in the field, and you don't discount someone's argument merely because they're not recognized as an expert. Each argument stands or falls on its own, on the merits of the *argument* and not the merits of the person putting it forward.

Articles like this - which attack Chomsky without taking into account any of his evidence or reasoning - suggest to me that there are in fact *not* good grounds for disbelieving his arguments. Not good grounds because, when somebody has nothing to say in response to a good argument, they often chance the subject, and start talking about the person.

What doesn't surprise me is that TCS would publish this bit of 'reasoning' that would fail a first year logic class. What would surprise me would be to see it convince any reasonable person.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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