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Re: I hope this low-income housing project fvcks with liberals

Posted by Nilet on Thu Apr 10 13:04:55 2014, in response to Re: I hope this low-income housing project fvcks with liberals, posted by AlM on Thu Apr 10 09:44:24 2014.

OK, let me see if I can make it clearer.

If there is no evidence for an extraordinary claim, we call it "false."

If there is substantial evidence, we call it "true."

However, in science nothing can ever be absolutely proven— we can say something is "true" or "false" based on the evidence available, but always with the understanding that new evidence might force us to change our opinion later.

So if someone proposed special relativity in the year 1800 without providing the evidence, people would be justified in calling it false with the understanding that they would be obliged to change their opinion when future evidence was uncovered. Once said evidence was uncovered, they would thus change their belief and call it true.

Defining "true" and "false" by what objectively is or isn't independent of human experience is not particularly useful since we never have direct access to that. As such, the terms are generally defined as referring to what is and isn't supported by the available evidence.

So it would be correct to call the existence of my pocket dimension "false" with the understanding that you would be obliged to change that opinion if I physically transported you to it and proved it was true.

Calling relativity false in 1800 would be wrong, but it wouldn't be a misuse of the term "false."

The religious extreme of "absolute truth that may never be questioned" is just as absurd as the scientific straw man of "can never really believe anything anyway." According to science, we're expected to hold provisional beliefs that we may assert with varying degrees of confidence based on the available evidence, but always with the understanding that future evidence might force us to reconsider.

Think about a criminal jury— they have to evaluate the evidence and make a decision that "the defendant committed the crime he is accused of" is true or false. They can't ever be absolutely certain; if we demanded that, they'd never be able to prove the defendant even exists let alone whether he did what he was accused of. After weighing the evidence, they make a determination, and state it as true. They don't bother adding "...based on the available evidence, and subject to revision if new evidence is uncovered," because unless you're talking about a tautology, that part is simply assumed.

Right here, you referred to a rumour as "false" without qualifying the term; you didn't say "rumour that the evidence suggests is false" or "rumour that we believe is false until further evidence is uncovered." I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that at some point in your life, you asserted something to be true or false, were proven wrong, and adjusted your belief accordingly, so you must understand the concept.


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