I’ve heard the Fraternal Order of Police assert the following three times now: police officers should be a protected group under 18 U.S. Code § 249, the law establishing what constitutes a hate crime. My immediate reaction is to dismiss their suggestion out of hand, but every idea deserves a fair hearing. Let’s see what the FOP wants, why they want it, and whether they have good reasons for wanting it.
Every now and then I come across conservative think-pieces decrying the arrogant ignorance of “well-educated” liberals on the blogosphere. They’re always so inspiring. Written so intelligently and charitably, always trying to understand the other side, they are just the pinnacle of enlightened thinking. So unlike us damn, dirty liberals.
The very first time we’re asked to write a paper, we’re told to appeal to authority figures. Supposedly, we guarantee the information’s truth by doing so.
Of course, it’s not always guaranteed that the information is true. In light of that, we’re told to cite relevant authority figures — people who have spent a lot of time studying the subject we’re writing about. Statements from relevant sources are taken to be more likely true.
This makes a certain amount of sense. Experts have mastered a particular subject’s reasoning, techniques, background information, etc. It, therefore, seems likely that the expert’s statements are true. Hence, our claims appear to be on solid grounds when we appeal to an expert.
I’m not entirely convinced that appealing to relevant authority is good reasoning.