Re: Tom Kyte a false idol?

From: Mladen Gogala <>
Date: Sat, 7 Mar 2015 08:56:20 +0000 (UTC)
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 06 Mar 2015 16:49:39 -0800, richard.rankin wrote:

>> Why would you want to cut it to pieces? If someone has a post graduate
>> degree from Harvard, he or she  is likely very knowledgeable and
>> trained in the art of logical thinking. I am very reluctant to discard
>> someone who had to poses such traits in order to achieve a post
>> graduate degree from Harvard. The same goes for experience. If someone
>> has survived in the cut-throat field of IT for 30 years, there is a
>> reason for that.

> When someone feels the need to assert their qualifications in the course
> of an argument (philosophical) I suspect that they feel the need to do
> so because they do not feel their argument will be accepted without it.

I have had contacts with several people from MIT, Yale and, in one instance, Heidelberg. For those who may not know, Heidelberg is German equivalent of Harvard. I cannot recollect even a single case in which these people would try to assert their opinion, based on their academic achievements. They wouldn't finish the schools they have finished, had they not been able to prove their statements. After all, my son was a guest student on MIT and he's defending his Phd thesis in molecular biology next week on a very famous German university (LMU). He has also published two articles in the prestigious "Nature" magazine. Trust me, I have a lot of practice arguing with a guy who came through excellent schools and who cannot invoke his academic achievements as an argument. Nevertheless, I lose the argument frequently. Such schools do prepare you to stand your ground without argumentum ad verecundiam or argumentum ad hominem.

> For that reason I examine their argument more closely and if I find
> fault, I present my findings of fault, counter-argument or whatever.

I am a mathematician by education. No Phd, no Msc, just a bachelor degree. As such, I am fairly well trained to prove all my statements and punch a hole in the opponents argument, if at all possible. Proofs are not personal. A square plus B square equals C square, if the (A,B,C) is is a triangle with 90 degrees angle between A and B, regardless of what you may think of me or my education. I find it very useful to take "me" out of the proof. Process of proving is highly impersonal. People who came out of a good school and are trained in logical thinking know that.

> Perhaps the "cutting it to pieces" is harsh but I not only expect or
> even want but crave finding of fault should it exist in any argument I
> present. That is what science is. I present my case and ask others to
> show me any failings so that I may correct or discard my hypothesis.

Actually, the sheer power of the expression made me suspect that you dislike people who came out of a good school for some reason.


>> Actually, argumentum ad verecundiam is also known as the appeal to
>> authority. Argumentum ad verecundiam would be if I claimed that I am
>> right because Tom Kyte agrees with me. That would be wrong. I am right
>> because Jonathan Lewis agrees with me.

> There are two "types" of argument from authority: argumentum ab
> auctoritate is the appeal to authority where an assertion is deemed true
> because of the authority of the person asserting. "argumentum ad
> verecundiam" is better translated from Latin as "argument to respect".
> This term is defined by a legal dictionary as "An argument addressed to
> the sense of decency". This is an alternative translation of the term.
> This is an appeal not to the likelihood of the veracity of the source
> but rather availing itself of respect for "great men, ancient customs,
> recognized institutions, and authority in general" in order to
> strengthen one's point or to produce an illusion of proof. In modern
> usage it is often intended to "shame" the reader away from believing
> otherwise.
> You are correct in that the term is frequently used in the sense you
> describe. Dictionaries and grammars are descriptive not normative.
> Therefore I don't want to lean too hard on Latin sources and legal
> usage, but the term is, after all, in Latin, a "fossilized" language.

Quidquid latine dictum, altum videtur

Or, to translate to English, whatever is in Latin, sounds profound. There is also a story about a son of a Roman centurion in Jerusalem who wanted to write "Romans go home", and the result read "Romanes eunt domus". But that's another story. And inappropriate for the time of Lent.

Mladen Gogala
The Oracle Whisperer
Je suis Charlie
Received on Sat Mar 07 2015 - 09:56:20 CET

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