There is a contradiction in the thinking of the physicists, in that they seem to be saying that
We need the LHC because we don't understand how things work at this level and we want to find out
We can tell you it's safe because we know how things work at this level.
How can it be a valid argument to do this - simultaneously assert one thing and its opposite?
All arguments that contradict themselves are valid. This is because everything follow from a contradiction
. That no such argument is sound is another thing. If you want to properly criticize arguments, then use the correct terminology.
If you didn't know how water behaves when heated and cooled, you could research it by looking at a sample of water. You could take its temperature and measure its density. You would notice it got more dense as its temperature dropped and you would be able to predict that it would be more dense at 21 degrees Centigrade than it was at 31 degrees. But such predictions would not be accurate when it goes below about 4 degrees. Water has unexpected properties. This is not intended as an argument by analogy - just an example of the unexpected.
Another example of the unexpected has been called 'The Pioneer Anomaly'. (You can do an internet search for this). It was/is an unexplained difference from what was expected in the path/velocity of the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 spacecraft.
One of my concerns is that there might be an 'LHC Anomaly'
Careful. Yes, in a sense it was 'unexpected'. People did not expect it because they did not know of it and all experiments with other chemicals and with water at degrees over 4 supported that the density would continue to behave in a linear fashion.
The analogy with LHC is not justified, that is, you have not given any reason to believe that the analogy is apt.
: "This non-story is symptomatic of a larger mistrust in science, particularly in the US, which includes intelligent design amongst other things." Source:
Professor Cox quoted in "Guide to the Large Hadron Collider" on the BBC website BBC News : Q&A: The LHC experiment
This mention of intelligent design is close to the use of the Straw Man fallacious argument. Concern about the safety of the LHC has absolutely nothing to do with belief in intelligent design and it is inappropriate to link the two.
Wrongly identified fallacy. It is close to a red herring
, not a straw man
. Even though straw man is a subcategory of red herring.
And you gave no reason to believe that the two are not linked. They probably are to some degree. There is a strong anti-scientific movement in the US and it would probably rage against anything labeled science, including the LHC.
All of these are probably mislabeled. It doesn't seem to me that the professor is trying to or is expected to argue for the safety of the LHC. He is arguing something else. Of course, if he did try to argue for the safety of the LHC with the above, then he would make some fallacies. Trying to categorize his comments above as various fallacies seems unreasonable to me. Of course his language is harsh but he is completely right about the nutters out there.
I'm too lazy to do more. Maybe you should just read a logic textbook. I will send one per email if you PM me your email. And then familiarize yourself with the various different logical fallacies. This page is very good for that purpose.
Taxonomy of the Logical Fallacies