Authority Cannot Replace Critical Thinking
Carl Sagan stated that scientific knowledge is only achieved by evidence and experiment, not by authority. Authority has no place in science:
One of the great commandments of science is,Mistrust arguments from authority.… Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like everybody else.
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
Mikhail Bakunin on why a wise person never conditionally accepts authority but instead selects the authority of a specific topic based on the comparison of different opinions:
Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognize no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such individual, I have no absolute faith in any person. Such a faith would be fatal to my reason, to my liberty, and even to the success of my undertakings; it would immediately transform me into a stupid slave, an instrument of the will and interests of others.
If I bow before the authority of the specialists and avow my readiness to follow, to a certain extent and as long as may seem to me necessary, their indications and even their directions, it is because their authority is imposed on me by no one, neither by men nor by God.
Mikhail Bakunin, The Anarchist Handbook (p. 81)