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Should Scientific Societies Issue Position Statements?

Official statements celebrate group think and conformity. They effectively demote members who disagree with some or all of the statement to second-class status within their profession, regardless of the quality of their own individual work or their reasons for disagreement. And they create divisions and alienation within the profession. Having issued a party line, it cannot be a surprise that partisanship emerges, with all its potential for polarization and resentment.

Official statements also legitimate the appeal to authority as a form of argumentation. By issuing a position statement, they encourage outside commentators to buttress their position by appeal to the ?Expert Statement?, rather than by appeal to evidence. The official statement thereby supplies a fallacious rhetorical device to one side in a political debate.