News and Commentary

WATCH: Ben Shapiro Breaks Down The ‘Argument From Authority’

Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, speaking at Ferris State University, broke down the ‘argument from authority’ during the Q&A following his speech as he ritually disposed of an antagonist. The text of the exchange with the questioner is below; the video follows beneath that.

Questioner: What is your formal education background? A lot of people don’t know what your undergraduate degree was in.

Shapiro: I was at UCLA in political science and then Harvard Law School.

Questioner: So you don’t have, you wouldn’t consider yourself an expert in sociology?

Shapiro: I don’t consider sociology a particularly expert field, but go ahead. I think I’m able to read a sociological study.

Questioner: It is a field of study.

Shapiro: There are lots of fields of study. I know a lot less about welding than I do about sociology.

Questioner: What I’m getting at is that you’re not considered an expert in sociology, psychology, gender studies, lesbian dance theory, any of those things that you brought up tonight

Shapiro: I know a lot more about all those others than lesbian dance theory. If you want to take issue with the argument I would urge you not to use the argument from authority, which is: somebody has a PhD by their name they know what they’re talking about. That’s a dumb argument.

Questioner: What I’m trying to get at is the fact that you don’t have any other further education on any of these topics or any of these fields of study.

Shapiro: I don’t need a seven-year degree in sociology to know bull**** when I hear it.

Questioner: Granted, that’s your opinion.

Shapiro: Right. Because I’m here, yeah. Giving it.

Questioner: You’re also offering a kind of unqualified opinion on a lot of these topics.

Shapiro: See, again, you’re just making the argument from authority. I don’t think slapping a PhD from Ferris State next to your name makes you an expert in all things in the field in which you propose to speak. The fact is, either my argument’s good or my argument’s bad. Citing to my credentials is a really bad way of making an argument. It’s actually the equivalent – it’s so funny; when people do this, it’s the equivalent of actually a religious person saying, citing to the Bible for an argument. I’m a very religious person. See this? It’s a yarmulke. I’m a religious person. I never cite to the Bible. The reason I don’t cite to the Bible is because that’s an argument from authority. You may not believe the authority to which I’m citing. I don’t believe the authority to which you’re citing, so you’re going to have to make me an argument as to what I’m saying that’s wrong instead of just saying I don’t have the properly enumerated degree from the institution of your choice.

Questioner: I’m merely citing academia. If you haven’t done any significant study or any type of educational, you haven’t established yourself as a PhD or a doctorate in any of these programs so how can you make a qualified opinion on any of these topics, is my question.

Shapiro: Because I have read the studies, and I can have an opinion on them.

Questioner: And that’s your opinion, and mine was just stated, so, thank you.

Shapiro: Yes, that was my opinion.