Why you judge something on the basis of the source of information

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I’m skeptical of this entire piece.


Probably because if someone tells you there is a herd of mammoths 3 days east you have to decide whether to go or not.

Because some sources are notorious for bullshit.

Like pretty much anything from WND, Breitbart is considered to be nonsense unless there is some outside reliable corroboration.


Very much seconded. Sure, argumentum ad hominem and ad verecundiam are both fallacies when you are trying to ascertain the truth of something through logic; but for the most part that’s not how we actually do things. If you had to reprove every fact about science or history for yourself you would never get anywhere. Instead we have to count on other people to do some of that work for us, validate what we can, and decide confidence in the rest accordingly.

And in that kind of framework, it very much matters whether sources have a tendency to present reliable data, or if they are well-known to skew or fabricate it. Things like Breitbart or think-tanks work because people keep citing them and that implies to others that there is merit in things they say. In practice, though, if anything they say is actually supported you can almost certainly find a better source for it; finding they are the only one saying something is then a good indicator it’s not trustworthy. Not a logical certainty, sure, but a good chance nonetheless.

We really do ourselves no favors in pretending professional liars deserve the same benefit of the doubt as everyone else. I won’t go quite as far as @Humbabella in saying logic is stupid, but I think the key point is solid; it’s a mistake to apply its rules to all ways we have of knowing things.


This “You are not so smart” series sounds more like it should actually be called “You don’t follow classical reasoning” or “You are not reductionist and therefore you are bad.” Context is often useful and it may not be “rational” to you, but a lot of human thinking is not rational, and that’s not actually a bad thing.


And those are just the historically obvious ones, which are not meant to be taken seriously.

It’s even worse when the sources feign the illusion of reputability…

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