Authority Criterion

Allen Roy (
Thu, 18 Sep 1997 00:02:31 -0700 (MST)

I received the following discussion from Prof. Robert Herrmann about a
method used to discredit theories. This method has been used conviently
by Shimmrich, by quoting from Chadwick and Austin, and lately by Morton
calling on Chadwick rather than Howe.

Prof. Herrmann:

1. Over the past 20 years of my scientific efforts, I have been
interviewed only twice by what may be called the "news media." One was an
interview about the "Solution to the General Grand Unification Problem . .
." by the local paper here in Annapolis "The Capital." (Annapolis is also
the capital of Maryland.) That interview did not appear as it was blocked
by the managing editor and, indeed, the reporter left the paper shortly
thereafter. The other interview was by Maryland Public TV. The interviewer
and the producer (the cameraman) showed great interest in the concepts
discussed and the taped interview lasted almost 30 minutes. But, the
actual material that appeared was a (very) small sound bit relative to the
mathematical model that establishes that the "sudden appearance of complex
macroscopic objects within our universe" is a viable scientific
possibility. But, the sound bit was so short that few individuals would
have had any idea of what I was trying to convey. The reason for this is
that the only idea in which the editors at Maryland Public TV were truly
interested is the so-called Creation/Evolution "controversy." They had
counter interviews with individuals from the University of MD and the
Smithsonian Institution. (Washington DC is but 25 miles from Annapolis.)
The editors at Maryland Public TV used a *forbidden method* in their
attempts to convey scientific information. But, this is almost always the
method used by the news media since, with the exception of purposely
ignoring information, it is probably the only way the news media can
discredit much "origins" research. (And many of these reporters are the
"science reporters" who are supposed to be properly trained in these

2. It seems like a 1,000 years ago when I had an elementary course at
Johns Hopkins University in the "Scientific Method." Almost on the first
day of class, the professor discussed this "self-evident" forbidden
method, a method some claim is a part of the "scientific method," the
Authority Criterion. A few (simplistic) illustrations are sufficient, I
believe. (1) This is one of the worst illustrations of the use of this
forbidden method. The news media seems interested in "compressed"
information that needs to be "comprehended" by the general public. (Is
this possible?) Scientist, Professor A, has a theory. The reporter
doesn't even go to interview Professor A, but rather interviews Professor
B, a professor who holds The Such and Such Chair in Theoretical Physics at
Big Time University. The reporter asks B whether or not A's theory is
correct. Professor B replies, "Of course not. Based upon my experience, I
am convinced that it is impossible and it is totally incorrect." (I point
out that Professor B is convinced of this even though he has not read the
theory since A's conclusions contradict the content of some of Professor
B's philosophical hypotheses - hypotheses consistent with but not a
specific part of Professor B's favorite theory. How could A's be correct?)
The reporter asks, "Can you tell me why it is impossible?" Professor B
answers, "Well, there are many technical reasons I am sure that I could go
into that your readers would not understand, but you should trust me, it
is complete nonsence. Indeed, it shows how incompetent A is in scientific
matters." Now the reporter does not actually use all of what Professor B
has said in a small article. What the reporter does is to write that "As
to Professor A's so-called theory, Professor B, The Such and Such
Professor of Theoretical Physics at Big Time University, is convinced that
"it is impossible and totally incorrect" and, indeed, states that "it is
complete nonsence."

3. This is an example of the forbidden "Authority Criterion." (There are
numerous variations as well.) Cohen and Nagel (An introduction to Logic
and the Scientific Method (1934), Harcourt, Brace and Co, NY) state the
obvious that this method "is (not) free from human caprice and
willfulness" and has no relation to the scientific method. For scenario
(1), there is no evidence given that shows in any manner whatsoever that
A's theory is incorrect. The general public is being forced to accept that
it is incorrect based only upon the "Authority" of Professor B. Well, of
course, is this not what is done in the courts with the so-called "expert
witnesses?" Hopefully, it is not. Hopefully, an expert witness can be
cross-examined, can be forced to be *specific* in criticism or, it could
be argued, that the testimony is worthless. But, except _maybe_ in a
series of Letters to the Editors, if they print them, Professor A is not
allowed to make such a cross-examination, not allowed to "confront his

4. As I have read criticisms of creation science material, the usual
procedure is not (1) but a slight variation. (2) In the usual scenario,
Professor B has actually given Professor A's theory a cursory or partial
reading. And using but this partial information and a little "scientific"
terminology , Professor B makes similar statements relative to the
Professor A's theory. This gives to the news media, at the least, the
"appearance" that Professor B has applied the proper analysis, which he
has not. Of course, there is the correct way to analyze Professor A's
work. (3) Professor B would need to study in-depth not only Professor A's
theory but all of the relevant references. And even then for a reason yet
to be discussed, he might make the same statement that A's theory is
nonsense. But apparently few, if any, anti-creationists have the time,
they claim, to do a complete analysis since in my experience relative to
my scientific findings case (3) has never been done.

5. The most important fact is (4) a scientific theory remains not refuted
and valid unless specific scientific errors (not errors associated with an
unstated philosophic stance) can be demonstrated. These errors can be
logical in the case of a theoretical construct or they can be errors in

6. Is there anything that can be done about the use of a procedure that is
not part of the scientific method to discredit creation science material
and how is it possible for Professor B to arrive at his conclusions even
under the usual scenario (2) and the correct scenario (3)?

7. Relative to (1), (2), (3), (4), I suppose the only secular possibility
is education. Since (1) and (2) use a well-founded forbidden method to
argue for the acceptance or rejection of a scientific theory, model or
concept, if the general public is made aware of the fact that it is indeed
forbidden and exactly what is the correct procedure (4), then possibly,
just possibly, some individuals would recognize when this method is used
to influence their thinking and would not only reject Professor B's
statements but might even investigate the "other hidden" reasons for why
in (3) Professor B has also rejected Professor A's theory.

8. Scenario (3) is closely linked to a specific form of logical argument,
a form of argument that leads to wars, murder and almost any horrible
behavior one can imagine, a form of argument that is used directly against
the creation scientist in an attempt to discredit such work. This form is
called the *enthymeme* and its relation to *self-evident* statements. I'll
discuss this in my next posting. I mention that the worst descriptive
process that is also forbidden by the scientific method, the use of
positive statements, is discussed in the first few chapters of my Internet
book, "Your Endangered Mind: The Great Scientific Deception" which I wish
more individuals would consider.

Robert A. Herrmann Ph. D.
Professor of Mathematics

"And God said. . . ." Ps 33.9(NIV); 1 Cor. 2:12-14; 1 John 2:27
Math. Dept., U. S. Naval Academy, 572 Holloway Rd., Annapolis, MD 21402-5002

Allen Roy
Grand Canyon Creationary Geology Tours, see: