What's the name/condition of someone who's rational to the point of being irrational?

Now and then I’ve seen some people argueing by taking logic and science too far and placing way too must trust in authority; literally to the point where they no longer think for themselves and let the “experts” (narrowly defined) make up their minds for them.

Examples would be:

  • if a world-renonwed PhD from a well-known research institute hasn’t published a scientific paper on thing or phenomenon, it should be considered not to exist. (it has never been proven that a dog can dig a hole in the dirt, so to believe they can would be foolish).

  • There are only a handful of “experts” in the world who are worth listening to -all published scientists/judges/politicians or otherwise powerful people- and nobody else knows what they’re talking about.(A carpenter may or may not know how to join pieces of wood together, and a heavy-duty mechanic may or may not know how to service a diesel engine… but probably not). IOW 99% of what we each know and have experienced has no basis in science or law and therefore reality; we shouldn’t trust any of it.

Blind faith in authority is what I’m talking about here, believing it’s both infallible and the only method that can ever be trusted to provide a correct answer or realistic picture of the world. I’m pretty sure it’s just a debating strategy and I hope nobody actually thinks this way in real life… but is there a phrase or descriptive word for people with such an apparent mind set?

Perhaps you are thinking of the fallacy of appealing to authority?

Note that this is a logical fallacy. It has nothing to do with “taking logic and science too far.” In fact, it is illogical and unscientific.

In terms of debating, I usually fall back on “pedantic”. I’ll give you Merriam-Webster’s definition, because anything else, and some wiseacre will correct me just for laughs:
1 : of, relating to, or being a pedant
2 : narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned

(pedant is defined by the same source as “1 obsolete : a male schoolteacher
2 a : one who makes a show of knowledge b : one who is unimaginative or who unduly emphasizes minutiae in the presentation or use of knowledge c : a formalist or precisionist in teaching.”)

As far as following instructions poorly, or not using their brain to interpret human speech with its nuances and assumptions, “golemic” or “literalist” each work.

If you want to suggest that they’re not open to any new ideas that don’t come from their small circle, you could also call them “inflexible”, “willfully obtuse”, or even a “Flat-earther”.

Would just plain “fanatic” work?



Personally, I call this way of thinking “scientism.” It’s the idea that only published scientists know what they’re talking about. Every other human being is obviously a drooling moron :rolleyes:

Also Appeal to Popularity


Come, now. Very few scientists, and none of the good ones, are so vainglorious to believe that the whole world’s knowledge is in peer-reviewed journals.

After all, what’s the point of peer review if you won’t accept new information for consideration?

I’ve seen some people arguing by taking logic and science too far and placing way too must trust in authority


You lose me right there. In my experience it is the people who don’t or won’t understand science, such as religious fundamentalists, who place too much trust in authority. Science is based on skepticism and the need for objective proof. Argument from authority has no place.

In skeptic-vs-psychic debates, the “overly rational” position has been given several labels:

Pathological skeptic


A closely similar stance is “Horganism”, which is the belief that science is at its end; science has essentially figured everything out, so major scientific revolutions are impossible …and therefore any claims or observations HAVE to be bogus if they show a need for massive revision of contemporary theory. Example: telepathy has to be bogus, since telepathy is impossible according to modern science (and since science is at its end and has everything figured out, we must say that claims of telepathy are wrong, rather than saying that science must expand in order to encompass a future theory which allows telepathy.)


On the other hand, if a person claims to be “scientific,” yet uses distorted versions of science if not outright deception, that person is a “pseudoscientist.” It’s not only the psychic-believers who practice pseudoscience. “Skeptics” descend into pseudoscience when they go too far in their battles with the psychic-believers.

But wouldn’t it be irrational to be rational to the point of being irrational? For logically, if it were irrational for one to be so rational, the rational thing to do would be not to be that rational—ah, heck! I’m doin’ it!

Andrew T, I wasn’t saying that scientific methodology relies on appealing to authority, I meant that some people who argue using scientific documentation do; as in “if no scientist(authority) hasn’t confirmed it by such methodology, you’re a fool to believe it’s real - even if it drops out of a tree onto your lap and starts biting you; at least not until it’s been published”.

But then being rational is being irrational, and better not chew on your big toe, since you might get hungry and end up vanishing entirely.

Perhaps the real error is in trying to LOOK rational, trying to construct a perfect facade of rationality which impresses the audience …as opposed to just sitting down and doing the dirty work of actually BEING rational. It’s the difference between trying to sway an opponent, versus trying to figure out what’s true.
Truth does not consist in minute accuracy of detail, but in conveying a right impression - Henry Alford
“We cannot define anything precisely! If we attempt to, we get into that paralysis of thought that comes to philosophers, who sit opposite each other, one saying to the other, ‘You don’t know what you are talking about!’ The second one says ‘What do you mean by know? What do you mean by talking? What do you mean by you?’, and so on.” - Richard Feynman
“When a man finds a conclusion agreeable, he accepts it without argument, but when he finds it disagreeable, he will bring against it all the forces of logic and reason.” -Thucydides