How To Disagree With an Expert – Freedom Philosophy

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Very few cases for free speech are greater than the one currently playing out with the de-platforming of Plandemic. As I understand it, the video is a conspiracy theory video about COVID-19 having been developed in a lab. Of course, I wouldn’t know if it is a conspiracy theory as I haven’t seen the video since it’s been taken down, which plays neatly into the hands of the conspiracy theorists.

From a methodological perspective, it’s insanely difficult to make this case. Researchers in Hong Kong University predicted this virus over a decade ago, and predictive power is our test for reliability in science.

I was going to use the predictive power of an alternative theory as the foundation for an argument against Plandemic, but thanks to social media censors, I can’t do that intelligently now. Instead, I’ll simply advise those of you who do wish to disagree with the experts. By that, I don’t mean one Ph.D. holder, I mean the consensus of those within a field.

My social media has been flooded with sneers at people who do YouTube “research” vs. Ph.D. research. It’s time for a response: Should we disagree with experts?

1. Know That It’s Possible

Not only can experts get things wrong, but each of us also disagrees with experts on something.

On the issues I know well, philosophy and finance, I see people saying outrageous things that are at odds with the overwhelming consensus of experts within the field.

In economics, economists have a consensus on several political issues. I’ve yet to encounter someone who isn’t an economist that holds these views. For example, economists overwhelmingly support fiat currency, and I disagree with them on this.

Just because experts disagree doesn’t mean they’re right. Experts get things wrong all the time. Barely literate midwives disagreed with doctors for centuries. In hindsight, midwifery was generally safer than scientific medicine for all those centuries, and the doctors had to alter their practices.

2. Do Your Homework

Experts are experts for a reason. My brother-in-law is an expert drywaller, and he was meeting our family and was touring my mother’s basement, looked at the walls, and said, “I don’t know who the idiots were that did this. This is terrible work”.

I hung my head in shame and confessed it was me. Out of politeness, he was trying to roll back the comment, while I was laughing at the awkwardness of the situation. What I was not going to do, based on my one-time foray into it fueled by something akin to YouTube research, is correct his judgment on drywalling. That would be arrogance beyond description. 

But if I did my research, over time, I might be able to correct him. In philosophy, amateurs of the subject often say things that make me pause for reflection. But it’s always been after they’ve committed themselves and read several books, watched countless lectures (even on YouTube), and even then, it’s always after they have some mastery over logic.

Take courses on the thing you wish to disagree with: Coursera, Khan Academy, and EdX, all offer them for free.

3. Understand Criticisms of Your View

As someone who has hosted hundreds of debate nights, this is by far the most important piece of advice I will ever give: Know your opponent’s position as well as they themselves do. This is a rule that goes back to Pythagoras. If you don’t understand an opposing view, you don’t understand the issue at all.

This is why I don’t get to write about Plandemic. Atheists who haven’t read Augustine, Aquinas, Chesterton, or Lewis, are among the most boring and unproductive contributors to a conversation about religion. In my discussions, Christians who have never bothered with atheist criticisms have never had intelligent grounds for their enormous confidence in Christianity.

Libertarians should read more Marx, Keynes, and Minsky. Socialists should read more Hazlitt, Mises, and Sowell.

If you don’t understand the opposition, that’s all well and good, but don’t go around disagreeing with experts who understand your own position ten times better than you do. Disagreeing with expert consensus demands a rigorous understanding of criticisms they have or else you understand nothing worth reporting.

Disagree with experts, be skeptical, challenge the system, but only after you’ve done laborious research, and at that, more laborious research than you probably realized was necessary when you began. Skepticism and calling out falsehoods is necessary to any intellectual endeavor; it should be encouraged, not discouraged. It just takes the full power of our intellect, not marginal speculation.

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Brandon Kirby

Brandon Kirby has a philosophy degree with the University of New Brunswick. He works for a Cayman Island hedge fund service firm, owns a real estate company, and has been in the financial industry since 2004. He is the director of Being Libertarian - Canada. He is a member of the People’s Party of Canada and the Libertarian Party of Canada.

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