Should professional societies issue position statements at all?
|November 25, 2006||Posted by William Dembski under Intelligent Design, Science|
Take a look at Ross McKitrick’s recent remarks on the subject of position statements from professional societies:
He argues against the practice of societies issuing position statements. This has direct application to the ID debate and the public statements issued by the AAAS, NAS, AAS, etc. Here are two particularly insightful paragraphs from McKitrick’s post:
Official statements celebrate group think and conformity. They effectively demote members who disagree with some or all of the statement to second-class status within their profession, regardless of the quality of their own individual work or their reasons for disagreement. And they create divisions and alienation within the profession. Having issued a party line, it cannot be a surprise that partisanship emerges, with all its potential for polarization and resentment.
Official statements also legitimate the appeal to authority as a form of argumentation. By issuing a position statement, they encourage outside commentators to buttress their position by appeal to the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Expert StatementÃ¢â‚¬Â, rather than by appeal to evidence. The official statement thereby supplies a fallacious rhetorical device to one side in a political debate.