Here's Ace of Spades writing about the latest study to show, in the face of the establishment, that low-carb dieters burn more calories:
When evidence and data are thin, Narrative and Theory rushes in to take their place. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so too does natural science. Science -- or, I should say, scientists -- human beings with human flaws which science isn't actually burdened with -- do not like saying "I don't know." Even when "I don't know" is actually the proper, most scientifically-valid answer.
"I know" is much more satisfying. The funny thing is that we only hear "the science is settled" in the precise cases where it's not settled. No one ever says "the science is settled" as to whether the earth revolves around the sun. It is settled, of course; so no one has to attempt the Appeal to Authority to establish it.
A growing consensus says they know, you know.
So, for 50 years now, the medical establishment and the government have been telling fat people to do the exact opposite thing they should be doing.
Ace is also drawing a comparison to the overconfidence of much of the man-made artificial global warming crowd; it doesn't much matter the specific policies, though, as his point stands whatever the appeal to authority. It is a common logical flaw (or a very shrewd tactic, as it works so well on the gullible who don't see their own weakness), and the point is well put.
Every once in a while, when I write against... oh, what shall I call it... "scientism," perhaps... that belief that scientists are people with special moral authority to set policy... I wonder if I look like I suffer from sour grapes.
I trained for, and used to aspire to working in, academic scientific research (well, engineering, but to most folks it looks pretty much the same). I don't anymore, mostly because of a series of choices our family made to secure our overall happiness. So you could say that membership in the Authoritative Class was within my grasp, and I let it slip away, and now I have sort of a grumpy habit of poking at Oz's curtain.
I like to think that the training I did have prepared me to recognize the argument from authority in many of its guises, but perhaps that thought is just the argument-from-authority in another form.
Maybe if I were a working scientist instead of a nonworking one, I would be just as vulnerable to belief in the superrational powers of my own authority (at least in my own field) as journalists often are to belief in the powers of people whose work they don't understand.