Instigator / Pro
Points: 7

It is intellectually lazy to believe the opinions of scientists


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After 2 votes the winner is ...
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Points: 14
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Round 1
It is intellectually lazy to believe the opinions of scientists, in the form of conjecture and theories. It is instead more reasonable to formulate our own conjectures and theories and opinions, based on the facts. We should make up our own minds on what the facts mean. 

Scientists are regular human beings, and their opinions are not infallible. 

In fact, in the course of history, most scientific theories have been proven wrong as more facts become available. 

This is not to say that theories shouldn't be formulated, and scientifically tested. They should be. What I'm saying is you shouldn't believe everything you are told, just because a scientist with a PhD said so. Use logic and common sense to look at the facts and try to figure out what is going on for yourself. 

Many good ideas are thrown out with the bathwater because they are not "consensus" science. For instance, plasma science is neglected, because it is not considered to be consensus. 

Consensus ideas are also held on long past their expiration date. For instance, the big bang theory, having to rely on pure conjecture of inflation, dark matter,and an expanding universe. 

Another problem is that some scientists claim fact, when something is clearly a theory, such as the obvious one of evolution. 

Facts need to be clearly differentiated from conjecture or theory, so we can all figure reality out. 

What is intellectual laziness? Though I would not call this a reliable source, [1] has a couple of good examples of intellectual laziness: “having trouble understanding an argument of someone else? There's no need to understand them - they're wrong anyway!”; “have an unsettled question that bothers you? Leave it unanswered. Your questions don't matter!”. [2] puts it this way, “Intellectual laziness comes in many forms – spending the majority of one’s spare time on entertainment (e.g., television, computer games), failure to stay abreast on advances in your field of expertise, not stimulating your thinking ability through reading and conversation, and adhering to the belief that you ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’” It is an unwillingness to study things out, or an adherence to knowledge without regards to the quality or reliability of it, or just taking something at face value.

What is a Scientist? defines it as “A person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.” Scientists are not just people with relevant degrees or science teachers, they have experience in the field they study. Science is a methodology. Those who study the natural and physical world do so with the Scientific Method. This method is a proven and reliable way to knowledge.

What is the Scientific Method?
Khan Academy [3] breaks it down into bullet points and then described them in more detail.
1.Make an observation.
2.Ask a question.
3.Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
4.Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
5.Test the prediction.
6.Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.

After scientists and researchers use this method they submit their findings for peer review so that others can repeat their findings. Some examples of the success of this method are: computers, cell phones, satellite, Space Station, rockets, airplanes, electricity, glass, etc. I could go on and on. Science and scientists have brought us all of our modern conveniences and tech.

It is impossible for us to know everything, and with busy lives we need to rely on experts. Appealing to authority is basically just accepting what someone says because they have a title such as PhD. Having a degree is respectable, but it does not give someone the expertise they need to be the say all end all on any topic. However, if we are asking a question about a subject they directly study, and they have been peer reviewed, we should give a higher degree of confidence to what they say. We go to doctors for medical advice, and we will listen to them because it’s their field of expertise. This is not to say that we should accept with absolute certainty what scientists or any expert has to say, but we should most definitely be more confident in their opinions.

There are many branches of science, and even more areas of study under each category. It is impossible for us to study every branch of science and their subcategories. For this reason, it is not intellectual laziness to believe the opinions of scientists, because they have the expertise and the time devoted in there field to make far more informed decision on what the facts suggest.

Round 2
 Appealing to authority is basically just accepting what someone says because they have a title such as PhD.
This is exactly what most people do.

Having a degree is respectable, but it does not give someone the expertise they need to be the say all end all on any topic.
This is exactly right. 

Having a degree is respectable
I would say it goes too far. Scientists are treated practically as demigods these days. Or at the very least the all-knowing priests of scientism- 

"the excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques" (Oxford Dictionary)

People rely too much on science, scientists, and not their brains, or even common sense. 

This isn't good.
What does believe mean? According to [1] it can mean one of two things. First it is to “Accept that (something) is true, especially without proof.” This is what I refer to as faith. The second is to “Hold (something) as an opinion; think.” When I say it is acceptable to believe scientists, I mean the second definition. It is perfectly reasonable to believe things contingently. As long as we are open to new information and new evidence, and willing to change our beliefs as the evidence dictates, it is reasonable, especially if the information is from an expert in the field.
Not all theories are equal. All are based on certain facts about Earth or Space science, but theories can be revised and updated as new information and evidence emerges. The Big Bang Theory is based on observations alone, not empirical evidence. We cannot verify black holes or dark matter. These are not the work of scientists, but rather physicists, cosmologists, mathematicians, etc. Scientists study empirical, testable claims. This does not mean the theories not based on hard empirical evidence is wrong, but maybe we should hold these views as contingent until we know for sure. There is the Theory of Gravity, but no one questions gravity, right? These theories are based on hard facts about the Earth or Space.
There are too many areas of science to be well versed in them all, for this reason I think it only reasonable to accept the experts opinions until better data comes along. If someone chose to only accept information they could verify themselves, they would probably not believe much of anything. They would be agnostic about anything new which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The question is, do you believe those who are not experts in the field over those who are or do you remain agnostic until all the evidence is in? If you are referring to more novelty claims made by people with adequate knowledge and experience in the field I see no problem with that, but they need to be fact checked and peer reviewed in order to be held to the proper standards. Otherwise, how do you know what you believe has any merit?
What us a theory? It is [2] “A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.” Theories are not just conjecture. They make predictions of what we should discover if the theory is true and coherent. The Big Bang Theory has made such predictions that have been verified. Since a theory is a system of ideas and not just a single idea, it is possible for some parts of a theory to be true and other parts false. This is why scientists continue to study and build more evidence to support or disprove their claims. Science has no problem with changing if the evidence is compelling. This point should be self evident. Theories are based on facts.
If a would be scientist never read the findings of others in their field, it would be intellectual laziness, but believing experts in their field of study because we are unable to study everything adequately enough to form an educated opinion is not. Consensus is about keeping them honest, not to stop new ideas from forming, but they are not going to be convinced by just talking a good talk. They will require evidence and reason to be convinced, as should we all.

Round 3
I can't do this today.

Is it “intellectually lazy” to believe the opinions of scientists? I made the distinction between those with degrees and scientists who study in the field or in a lab with empirical evidence. These are experts with experience in their field of study. 
Some, if not most, of us live busy lives. We are unable to research every subject, much less every branch within a subject. We rely on expert opinions all the time from our health professionals to electricians. Are they fallible? Yes. Can they be wrong? Yes. Does this mean we should stop believing everything experts say? We need scientists as much as we need health experts. I work for a large glass and ceramics manufacturing company producing products that help reduce emissions in the air. Our scientists have been instrumental in the success of reducing smog around the globe.
But scientists are just regular people, right? Yes. So are brain surgeons, but I am not going to believe someone with an argument over someone with the experience. Second opinions from another person with experience is always a good practice. However, in the sciences they constantly fact check each other and submit to peer review.
If I choose not to learn my job and keep up to date on procedures and practices, that would be intellectually lazy. If you chose not to accept scientists opinions, the most intellectually honest position is agnosticism, or simply saying I don’t know. If you accept another position other than those who dedicate their lives studying in their field, I would want to know why. All beliefs should be held as contingent until all of the evidence is in, and tested. Holding beliefs as absolute stops progress and keeps us from learning and from enquiry.
If we were talking about philosophy or religion, I would agree. Science is a methodology that scientists use, and this method is ironclad, just look at the accomplishments I presented in my opening remarks.

most people are too stupid to come up with their own theories
its pretty retarded not to respect experts they devote their lives to finding answers, trust but verify thats what i say, you delted my vote what sort of bullshit it that?
--> @billbatard
>Reported Vote: Billbatars// Mod action: [Removed]
>Points Awarded: 7 points to con
>Reason for Decision: People that do not respect intellectuals are by definition stupid , only stupid people are too stupid to know how stupid they really are
Reason for Mod Action>This vote is not eligible to vote. In order to vote, an account must: (1) Read the site’s COC AND have completed 2 non-troll/non-FF debate OR have 100 forum posts.
Secondly, this debate is neither a technical full forfeit, nor does the final round count as a concession - thus this debate is moderated.
The voter is expected to fully justify all pointed votes for using the CoC voting
Standards guide; this vote is thus insufficient as it merely states an opinion and gives no additional reasoning on any of the points awarded.
please ready the rules for more information.
experts in fields should always be defered to, how you possibly knoiw better than them?
--> @Dr.Franklin, @PressF4Respect
Press for respect's vote has been removed and dr. franklin's counter vote bomb has been removed.
"I can't do this today."
Counts as a forfeit
--> @croweupc
The difference between scientists and doctors is that one is applied science (applying known facts to variable situations). The other is theoretical science, where one seeks and uncovers the facts. Doctors know exactly how cancer or gingevitis works, but they have to figure out if you have it, and that involves detective work which is where their flaws come in.
Scientists do make mistakes, which is why a single study or a single scientist's word means nothing. Repeated tests and attempts to refute conclusions is what solidifies scientific fact beyond just opinion.
There have been many scientific assumptions that have been disproven over the years (abiogenesis, the aether) however, neither of those were scientifically proven and were just assumptions from tradition. No scientific theory that was established using the scientific method has ever been countered to my knowledge. When einstein expanded our theory of gravity he did not negate any of n3wtons work. The law of gravity as found my newton is still functional under all but the most extreme conditions
Einstein simply explained what gravity is, while newton described how strong it is. Nothing was negated. Only added.
So yes, individual scientists are fallible humans, however the scientific method is designed to circumvent their fallibility. Is it possible for a scientifically proven theory to be disproven, of course! but it hasnt happened yet, and possibly never will.
--> @croweupc
The Big Bang theory is one of the most incontrovertible theories in all of theoretical physics. We are so certain rapid inflation at ~10^-30s occurred -- it is not opinion. I believe you maybe conflating scientific theory with just general intuition, perhaps?
--> @Nemiroff
I will attempt to clarify my position. A meteorologist is an expert in weather patterns and makes predictions about the upcoming forecast. This is what comes to mind when I think of scientists opinions. Not someone’s opinion outside their own particular field of study. I don’t have time to stare at radars all day to make reasonable predictions. Climate change is the same. I don’t have access to the same instruments and tools scientists have to study the effects of climate change. I depend on their expert opinions about the facts. We can all see the facts, but sometimes we need opinions from people who study these facts. I wouldn’t got to a dentist for advice on a brain tumor. They study very different things, hence why we have specialists. My main point is that it is impossible for us to study everything reasonably enough to have an expert opinion on the matter. I never made the argument that we should believe everything they say, only that it’s reasonable to believe them because they have hands on experience. The other option is to just believe what you want if it makes you feel good, but who would do this when it really matters, like being diagnosed with cancer. We do rely on experts when our health depends on it. Scientists are experts in their field of study, and should be treated with the same respect. Doctors are wrong from time to time, as I am sure scientists are, but they have a much greater chance of interpreting the facts correctly because they study them for a living.
--> @croweupc
Everything has facts and speculations. The existence of the big bang, is a fact. Many details are not. Scientists are people with individual opinions, but science makes it clear what is fact, and what is speculation.
Im not sure what you are implying regarding the factualness of the big bang or climate change.
--> @Nemiroff
I don’t necessarily disagree, but fact and opinions get blurred sometimes. For instance, the Big Bang Theory is based on facts, but as a whole can be viewed as opinion. It to me seems responsible to believe this, if by belief you mean probably true or possibly true, not definitely true. Scientists also give their expert opinions based on evidence they have collected and reviewed on subjects like climate change. I do appreciate the criticism though.
--> @croweupc, @janesix
I think there is a difference between opinions of scientists, and conclusions of the scientific community. There is also a difference between believing *A* scientist, and believing in the peer review system and the scientific method. It is the latter 2 systems that make science trustworthy, not individual opinions.
I think that there is a big difference between being skeptical about the opinions of scientists and actually believing the opinions of scientists.
--> @Ragnar, @janesix
Ragnar is right on this one, you sort of set up a debate it didn't seem you were trying to argue against. I can tell you mostly agreed with what your opponent is saying. "Fact-check even the majority opinions, just in case" and "don't trust experts!" are two very different claims.
--> @janesix
So I suspect your RFD needs to be lengthened in order to have the debate you desire. What you're probably going to argue is that people should read the papers published by the scientist, as opposed to just cherry-picked snippets (just had a creationist basically concede a debate by pulling a source which was directly opposed to his beleifs, because he did not bother to read it: Your current RFD basically translates 'reject expert opinion,' when what you want is 'don't blindly trust appeals to authority.'
Perhaps I see where you are going here. On one hand I see far too many people take people's opinions in the field of science for granted. On the other hand I can understand why, in biology for example, a biologist would know more than you on his subject and so you can get his view, and expert opinion, on that subject. If a scientist however, has an opinion that is outside his own field, you should disregard that opinion as coming from an expert in the field. Instead you should ask for why the scientist has that opinion.
You must balance between an appeal to authority fallacy and someone's expert opinion. Regardless though, you should always ask for the reasoning behind an opinion, else it lacks foundation.
To Truth!
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Unclear resolution (in the comment section I accidentally called resolution RFD), and a lack of effort from pro. This became basically an educational lesson for pro from con, rather than a true debate.
1. Definitions
This should have been handled in the description. This is a major area of importance, which con gave, and pro wholly dropped (which translates to accepted at face value, ironically part of con’s definition for intellectual laziness).
2. Facts
We should make up our own mind “based on the facts” with a handy link to how evolution is a fact, while somehow arguing that it is just a theory (the very laziness the source uses to conclude that we should stop trying to explain the difference between fact and scientific theory). Con uses this area to explain the scientific method, and the results we would be stupid to disbelieve (cell phones, etc.).
3. Scientists are fallible
This could have done with an example or two of disproven former theories... Con uses this to basically say it would be worse than intellectually lazy to dismiss subject matter experts, it would be intellectual suicide.
See above review of key points. This was a three-round debate, to which pro wholly dropped one round, basically dropped another (only responding to three lines from pro’s argument), basically leaving this as an FF (con won on arguments, but this write-up is me being nice).
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Pro's gist:
Essentially, Pro argues that scientists are fallible, scientific theories have been proven false and encourages people to analyse data themselves. Pro is basically advocating against the 'appeal to authority fallacy'.
Con's gist:
Con's argument is that we should value expert opinion in fields they are experienced in. Moreover, he states that because we cannot study many particular fields in science, it is not intellectual laziness to take stock in their opinion.
Big Bang Theory/DM/black holes etc.
I must note, both Pro and Con had questionable interpretations of the theory. Pro states that inflation, dark matter and an expanding universe is "conjecture" and Con states that the big bang theory is not based on "empirical evidence" and that black holes and dark matter "cannot be verified". Moreover, Con states that physicists aren't scientists. Con commends the theory of gravity (most likely Einstein's theory of gravity) which immutably predicts the big bang -- I am unsure why this was used to show uncertainty in the big bang. I am also unsure why this or the relevance of the scientific method plays an important role in this resolution specifically as it isn't tied to question of whether or not expert opinion should be believed.
After reading Pro's argument, I don't feel less inclined to believe in expert opinion. In complexed areas of science, the average person wouldn't be able to draw reasonable conclusions from raw data. Especially since Pro references the Big Bang Theory -- I am certain the average person wouldn't be able to understand Einstein's field equations which implicate a cosmological singularity. Maybe if Pro had stated people should remain sceptical and not believe in things that they fundamentally can't understand or haven't researched enough, his argument would have had more efficacy.
Con's argument is more reasonable -- he demonstrates why expert opinion should be valued. I agree with his statement that the only other option would be to remain agnosti. Pro effectively rejected the position of agnosticism since his argument advoctated for the derivation of your own conclusions rather than to remain sceptical. Thus, it really boils down to one's (most likely) uneducated opinion vs. an expert's opinion on raw data. I must award arguments to Con for this reason.
Pro forfeited a round. Conduct goes to Con.