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Litspot Rss

Authority (Outline)

Two Conditions Must Exist:

1. The speaker must be a genuine expert.
2. There must be no reason to suspect bias.

  • Bias does not mean claims are not true. It means that they are questionable.
  • It is our job to confirm these things, not the writer’s.

Testing for Authority:

Expert Testimony

  1. Look for unnamed authorities.
  2. Look for unfamiliar authorities.
  3. Look for authorities known only by degree.
  4. Look for authorities with “strange credentials.”

Religious Authority

  1. God and Everyone: Problems with religious appeal.
  2. Recognize its valid place in argumentation
  3. Moderate your use in most cases (consider your audience)

Contextual Accuracy

  1. When possible, find original quotes. Study them. Make sure that they are quoted in their proper context.

Dated Material

  1. Evaluate context. Not all older quotes are dated. Many are still valid and/or debated today. Consider questions about the mind/soul, God, definitions of life, etc. However, watch for statistical information: Crime rates, economic figures, public opinion polls, etc.

Biased Testimony

  1. Rewarded testimony
  2. Predictable testimony (many factors)
  • Remember it is your job to fully explain why something it biased. Simply claiming it does not make it true.

Critical Authority

  1. Denotes where something is published.
  2. Print does not equal truth.
  3. Check journals/publications for any suspected bias and/or questions about expertise
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