Valid viewpoint??

Bart Janssen bjanssen at
Mon Feb 12 14:42:38 EST 1996

In article <4fnmp7$cds at>, sophiewi at
(Sophie Wilson) wrote:

> ED MCNALLY (cruyff at wrote:
> :     2. My words were discounted simply because I am a man.  Reverse    
> :        discrimination against men by some will not help resolve any    
> :        oppression leveled against women.  
> Ed's words were "discounted" (I like this image: like "70% off!") because 
> he was a man, offering another way to deal with pregnancy.  If the rest 
> of you don't mind -- I'd like to persue this.
> Do we have to value all opinions/insight at the same ("100%") level?  Or 
> are some sources more value-able than others?  

> No, I'm not keen on starting an abortion flame war, either.  But I find 
> this a very difficult and worthwhile issue to consider.  Whose opinions 
> count?  Whose can be discounted?  Is discounting ever valid?

Interesting questions.  If I understand you correctly you are asking
whether all viewpoints should be assessed or valued equally.  The answer,
from the viewpoint of a scientist is, YES.  Absolutely every single view
must be assessed and valued for it's content not based on it's source.

This is kind a sore point with me just at the moment, because I've had to
deal with some bad science recently.  But (lecture mode on) no scientist
can ever allow themselves to start biasing their examination of an idea
based on the source of that idea.  Certainly, when someone is presenting
an experince then the identity of that person can affect that experience
and hence has relevance when assessing the data.  But that is different
from expressing an idea.  Having assessed that idea then you assign a
value to the idea (not to the person expressing the idea). 

As soon as you start making the assumption that a given source has nothing
to contribute then you run the very real risk of missing the odd good idea
from that source.  That is bad science.  Even worse, assuming that any
ideas from a (usually) reliable source are always good, is a disaster
waiting to happen.

With the case in point, sure women are more likely to be able to empathise
with a pregnant woman.  But that doesn't mean that there aren't bigoted
narrow-minded women out there whose opinions on the issue are valueless. 
Nor does it mean that a given man cannot present a valuable contribution. 

I better stop before I really start to rave.


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