I think they've forgotten to disentangle argumentation by subject. There's arguably arguments that for the sake of natural selection you're better off finding out the truth. You can convince me all you want that drinking distilled water will cleanse your soul, you're not going to reproduce 6 feet under. But if the argument is about getting your way (what's for dinner?) then you might indeed be better off packing on arguments in your favor and leaving out those that contradict you. The problem is of course that it's difficult to switch from one mode of argumentation to the other. That's why it's beneficial if scientists have some formal training in which they learn, if not actually the names of well-known cognitive biases, so at least procedures that have proven efficient in avoiding pitfalls of human cognition, cognition that has evolved for other purposes than, say, finding evidence for dark matter.
In any case, this reminded me of a little book I once saw on a bargain bin, "50 ways to stall a discussion." ("50 Arten, sich quer zu stellen" by Frans Krips, you can download it here.) If you ever sat in the 5th installment of yet another seemingly endless committee meeting, consider that everybody else read the book and took the advice very seriously. Here's a sample from the 50 ways:
- This was not sufficiently discussed
- We don't have enough information
- We should first find out how the matter has been dealt with elsewhere
- This is much too fast
- Deficient use of language
- Inadequate standard
- We first have to discuss some other problem
- There are other problems of higher societal relevance
- One just can't do it this way
- You can't expect that from the people
- We've discarded so many plans, who cares if we discard yet another
- We tried this already in 1976
- We haven't yet assessed the impact of our last decision
- Who exactly is responsible?
- We should contact an expert
- We have to set priorities straight
- We need a committee on this aspect
And then there is of course the Web2.0 deadlock: we have to agree to disagree. It too fails to differentiate between seeking for truth and seeking for compromise. We can agree to disagree on all matters of taste: Pizza or Sushi? Pink or blue? NIN or RHCP? but when it comes to science, disagreement means one of us is wrong. Finding the right answer is what science is all about. So it's Pizza tonight, dammit.