The Best Arguments for Things I Don't Believe

By Sean Carroll | August 23, 2007 3:40 pm

Have you ever heard someone arguing in favor of a position with which you disagree, but their arguments are so bad that you can’t help but think “Man, I could do a better job arguing for their side than they are, and I don’t even agree with them!” I thought it might be interesting to do exactly that — consider some interesting issues, and come up with my own versions of what the people who I think are wrong should be saying.

The rules would be: (1) The claims would be somewhat judgmental, rather than straightforwardly empirical. I’m not going to waste my time arguing that the universe is not expanding, or anything like that. (2) I have to stick to making individual statements that I really do believe, even if I don’t think they are sufficient to support the ultimate conclusion. I reserve the right to come up with more rules as I think of them.

Here are some possible claims to be considered:

  1. God exists.
  2. The Iraq war was a good idea.
  3. Women scientists shouldn’t complain about discrimination.
  4. Research on string theory is a waste of time.
  5. Talking about the multiverse is intrinsically non-scientific.
  6. We shouldn’t worry about global climate change.

Any other suggestions? I’m sure there are lots of things I don’t believe, but could come up with better arguments for than I usually hear. It’ll be like being on the debate team again.


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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