rhetoric test (was: Morton on Muller-Hill and Johnson)

Loren Haarsma (lhaarsma@OPAL.TUFTS.EDU)
Mon, 17 Mar 1997 13:54:56 -0500 (EST)

Scientists, like all humans, are subject to self-deception from all
sorts of social and personal pressures. There are good and helpful ways
to make this point. There are also bad ways which unfairly denigrate
people's ethics and motives, showing little regard for the actual
situation, which is tantamount to bearing false witness. Obviously,
folks on this discussion group might disagree about where on that
spectrum lies Johnson's use of the Muller-Hill story.

I propose a test. Take the quotation to which Glenn referred, and
substitute the words "lawyers critiquing science" for "scientists."
(Or, more broadly if you wish, substitute "proponents of intelligent
design theory.") If the revised quote still sounds like a fair-minded
warning against self-deception, then let it stand. If the revised quote
starts to sound malignant, then there is a problem with the rhetorical

By the way, I think this is a useful exercise for *all* of us to apply
to our own rhetoric, whenever we go beyond discussing our opponents'
arguments, and start discussing our opponents' motives and judgment.

Loren Haarsma