I have no social media accounts; all purported ones are fake.

Appeals to authority work both ways, but always badly.

Appeals to authority work both ways, but always badly.

This really does have something to do with shooting; bear with me!

Stan Kenton was a standout iconoclast in a field of music that is, by definition, iconoclastic: jazz. Some of his albums were a difficult experience because they demanded so much of the listener. If one is not conversant with at least a little music theory, much of what goes on in a Kenton pieces flies right over the head.

I remember reading, somewhere in the intertubes, a critical review of a Kenton album from just such a person. The writer opined that Kenton’s music just couldn’t be any good, because none of his personnel had successful solo careers.

Aside from the sheer ignorance of that comment, it struck me that this person suffered a common logic fault: looking for some sort of validation of worth or quality based on an external factor. This fellow wasn’t capable of assessing the music as it stood, but instead looked to a unrelated metric to back up his opinion (a metric that was’t even correct!)

This happens frequently in all fields, to include that of shooting (specifically defensive shooting.) Rather than consider the logic of a technique or concept, many will evaluate what’s presented to them on the basis of who else has adopted that same point of view. I’ve seen the question asked in all kinds of courses with all kinds of instructors: “what police agency/military branch/well known school teaches that?” A declarative version of the question is “so-and-so teaches something else, and he was a Navy Seal/in Desert Storm/on a SWAT team.”

If one doesn’t understand the material being presented, either due to not putting forth the effort to do so or because the instructor isn’t taking the time to explain things, then one is left to rely on an external ‘authority’ to make decisions. If the context in which the authority evaluates something is different from the student’s, it may not be relevant. It may not even be workable.

If you don’t understand what you’re being taught, and why, the burden is on you to ask questions. Respectfully, of course, but you still need to ask and get intellectual clarity on the subject. If your instructor himself uses the appeal to authority, justifying what he’s teaching by telling you about the large police agency or secret military organization or champion shooter that uses it, that’s not the answer you need.

When it comes to protecting your life, techniques and concepts need merit — not endorsement.

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On June 1, 2011

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