Who do you believe and why?

Perhaps one of the biggest questions anyone faces is that of trying to figure out who to believe. A key to making this discussion is understanding why some people seem more believable and using that understanding to qualify just how good the decision is. That is the subject Lumo discusses in James Randi vs mindless consensus pseudoscientists at The Reference Frame (google reader link fails at this time).

I don’t want to skeptical for the sake of being skeptical, either. But in the same way, I don’t want to be a “slick mainstream believer” for the sake of being a “slick mainstream believer”.

What Lumo is suggesting is that it should not be who is saying things but rather how they support what they say. That support is something that can be determined no matter how complex or esoteric the subject of an issue. You can look for how the realities of real world measurement is considered, the integrity of the arguments, logical fallacies, and how things fit with what you yourself can actually observe.

Somebody says so is not a good basis for trust but it is the one most often seen in much of the climate discussion trying to defend forecasts of catastrophic climate change.

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