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Posted by on Dec 5, 2012 in Feminism, Freethought Blogs, Science, Uncategorized | 38 comments

Do You Need To Be An Expert To Criticize Science?

PZ just wrote another response to Ed Clint’s critique of Watson’s Skepticon 5 speech. Once again, it isn’t substantive, but goes to qualifications, which, to be fair, were indeed addressed by Clint and by others. So, the question is: Does someone need to have any qualifications to criticize something? And obviously the answer is no, anyone can criticize anything; it happens all the time, and often that criticism is spot on.

But typically, it helps to have either a background in or knowledge of a particular science or other complex field before your criticism of that field will be relevant, articulate, informed, and logically sound. And when someone demonstrates that their criticism is none of these things, then the question of qualifications and competence comes up. When Rebecca Watson delivered her speech at Skepticon 5 (and is apparently presenting the same speech in New Zealand three times) she made many substantive errors that someone with even a layperson’s understanding of science wouldn’t have made. Thus she was unqualified to give the speech. It’s that simple.

Important Addendum:

Apparently PZ Myers believes that Paul Ryan’s degree in economics doesn’t qualify him to speak to economics, yet Watson’s degree in marketing qualifies her to tear apart evolutionary science. TRIGGER WARNING — ad homs: