Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Path to Personal Perception of Truth

An individual person cannot know what is absolutely true. Yikes! Who would think I would make such a claim? While we must act as if the apple we are about to eat is an apple and edible and full of good things, we can't possibly know that for absolutely certain. Rather, we arrive at these conclusions by the sum of all the evidence that we have at that moment. We have personally eaten items in the past that look, feel, and appear in every way to be similar enough to that which is in front of us to conclude that it is an apple.

We have purchased these items from the same store as these were purchased, and have not become sick or died in the past. The store has a good reputation, as does the little label on the apple. We hope that no one sadist has adulterated the apple, switched the label, or otherwise tampered with it.

We were told by our parents, teachers, and things we have read that apples are good for you, and that in fact we should eat one every day.

This combination of sensory evidence, experience evidence, brand evidence, and trusted opinion of others evidence is enough for us to reach a conclusion about the truth of the above proposition. It may be patently untrue for dozens of obvious reasons. It is a very good wax replica. It has a massive worm inside. Science has not yet discovered the link between apples and brain tumors. Etc.

If new evidence enters the picture (think Alar), we may change our opinion quite quickly from what has seemed to be clear truth to either questioning or downright rejection of the old belief. The new evidence may be some startling new discovery, or it may just be the process of gaining greater and greater amounts of information about a subject. It should be obvious to folks on both sides that more knowledge may actually lead a person further from objective truth, in that lots of highly educated folks on very narrow subjects have vastly different views.

As anon said in a comment below, emotions can enter into the equation, also, but the stronger the evidence the more difficult it is to allow emotion to control the perception of truth. Of course, we all know people who are at the extreme edge of this curve in either direction.

But this is why I continue to insist that an atheist, agnostic, Christian, or Muslim reaches their personal perception of truth by the same method, even if unique personalities may give more weight to one kind of evidence or emotion than another. If I understand Bernardo correctly, he would add in that we may have developed a general world view as a result of our nature or nurture that may substantially color how we reach these conclusions. But bottom line, the personal perception of truth is fluid on all subjects including God, and comes down to the sum total of a person's response to the evidence that they have at that moment.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is all evidence changeable? That is are there some definite facts or would it be reasonable to assume the sun won't rise tomorrow?
There must be some constants in this reality we have?

Hey Skipper said...

Randy:

But this is why I continue to insist that an atheist, agnostic, Christian, or Muslim reaches their personal perception of truth by the same method, even if unique personalities may give more weight to one kind of evidence or emotion than another.

Emphasis added.

Your statement is loaded with implicit assumptions, chief among them the notion of "truth."

A non-theist does not traffic in "truth" in anywhere near the same sense that theists do.

Which is why I continue to exist that theists and non-theists approach the world in fundamentally different ways.

Theists insist upon knowing Truth despite completely contradictory Truth claims.

Non-theists do nothing of the kind, instead confining such claims to the realm of knowledge (i.e., the ability to distinguish between contradictory claims). Outside that admittedly small realm, we can form statements, but nothing more.

Theists insist upon their particular version of creation.

Non-theists insist there is no particular version of creation that can be insisted upon.

If that isn't a difference, then what is?

bernardo said...

"... are there some definite facts, or would it be reasonable to assume the sun won't rise tomorrow?"

Neither. As usual it's somewhere in between. All we can say is "We have observed the sun rise every morning for all of recorded history, so assuming that our records are good and that the universe is repeatable (which appear to be the case), we can say it's highly likely the sun will rise tomorrow".

Skipper,

While you make some good points, and while I agree with the general trends you describe, you turn them into black-and-white exaggerations that get in the way of making yourself sound credible to believers.

For example, "A non-theist does not traffic in "truth" in anywhere near the same sense that theists do". Some theists acknowledge that it is possible, if improbable, that they are wrong. Theists lie along a spectrum from pretty much agnostic to absolutely certain of their faith. You divide people into groups that have solid lines around them, when in fact any belief can be had along a spectrum and is found in the populartion in some kind of continuous distribution. don't be fooled by polls that imply that beliefs are discrete.

"Theists insist upon knowing Truth despite completely contradictory Truth claims."

Like I have commented on another post, this is unfair of you to say. Just because theists can't agree on everything, doesn't mean they can't possibly be right. Again, what you are doing is analogous to saying that, since politicians can't all agree unanimously, then American politics is a hopeless way of trying to determine how a government should govern or how a society should balance competition and cooperation. Just because two people claim to want to know the same thing and they disagree with each other, doesn't mean both of them are in the wrong path. And if, while disagreeing in the details, they agree on some broad points, then maybe it's worth considering whether those points could be right.

"Outside that admittedly small realm, we can form statements, but nothing more."

That's not good enough for some people, so they make intuitive leaps of faith that feel right to them. Many of them do manage to remember that any conclusion reached after the leap of faith is only true assuming that the leap of faith is true. You know, kinda how we assume that scientific models are only true assuming that the universe is repeatable, an assumption we make because it seems to correspond with what we observe and it feels right, but there's no way to know for sure. So we make the assumption and conclude things that seem to be true. That's the same as what religious people do. The real problem is that many religious people lose sight of that leap of faith, and think they found a truth that is REALLy true, not just "true if the assumptions were correct". But some naturalists do that too. You can't know that the universe always follows the same rules. Do our assumptions sound more reasonable than theirs? To us, they do. But consider the possibility that, to them, ther assumptions sound more reasonable, correspond better with how they feel the universe ought to operate.

Randy,

I do still insist that whether the universe was deliberately created for a purpose or not is a question where some kind of internal preference (which may indeed be more fluid than it seems to me that it is) is more powerful than pretty much any evidence, and it allows you to interpret any evidence one way or the other. But I could be wrong, I suppose there is some evidence that could overwhelm the preference. But I do think that, when that preference changes, then what changed was the person's perspective on how the universe probably works. It takes some mighty evidence to do this, I would guess, probably traumatic stuff. I don't really know, to be honest. Clearly an area worth investigating further. I probably should read this latest Daniel Dennett book I keep mentioning and hearing great things about, so that I can get the details and not just the general thesis.

Hey Skipper said...

Bernardo:

When I talk about theists, I am referring specifically to those who extend a belief in the existence of god into a God and Its associated dogma.

It isn't unfair of me to say that Theists insist upon knowing Truth despite completely contradictory truth claims, because that is precisely what is happening.

Muslims, Christians, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, et al, each make exclusive, and contradictory, truth claims.

Surely, you don't deny this.

Unlike politicians, though, whose claims face the crucible of real world experience, the truth values of theist claims are impossible to ascertain.

This makes your analogy to politicians inappropriate. Some political solutions work better than others -- anyone care to give socialism another go?

But there is no way to adjudicate the claim that Islam will rule the world against the claim that the only way to eternal life is by accepting Christ as your savior.

I understand the lure of making such leaps of faith, but that doesn't make them excusable. Not only do theists use the concept of faith to shield their leaps from inspection, but the inevitable consequence of conclusions from blinding ignorance is dogma, the essential element of religion.

And the consequences of theist dogma -- uniquely revealed absolute truth -- are awful

There is no materialist analog to dogma, because the natures of the respective belief systems are so at odds (materialists rely upon a very sparse set of entering arguments, and accept conclusions upon merit; theists rely upon multiple, unrelated assumptions, and enforce conclusions by authority).

So when I contest your assertion that materialists and theists are doing the same thing, that is what I mean. We don't, and there is no finessing the point. No one knows, as a matter of Truth, that the universe follows the same rules. Absent evidence to the contrary though, the assertion that it does is materially distinguishable from the assertion that it doesn't.

There are no theist claims that are distinguishable from contradictory theist claims.

As a materialist, I willing to accept "dunno" as the only intellectually honest answer to a whole cartload of questions.

Theists are not.

Finally, materialist claims are point of view independent. There are no such things as Islamic science, or Mormon science.

That must qualify as starkly distinguishing materialists from theists.

Randy Kirk said...

Christians say "I dunno" a lot. Can't explain the trinity. Can't explain how God and Heaven can be eternal. Can't explain how God knows everything, but we still have free will. Don't know anything for certain. Do know that from my point of view, having spent 1000's of hours and 50 years examining the evidence (on both sides), experiencing life (including the spiritual side of life), and weighing the practical advantages of various life systems, my personal perception of Truth is God is the Creator, and He sent His Son, etc.

I can fully appreciate how each person commenting here or over at "95% of You Are Morans," can come to the conclusion that everything we see is the result of a mindless, but guided, naturalistic series of causes and effects that started with a big bang and could end tomorrow at noon (Bernardo's argument.)

However, to suggest that one or the other "truth" is arrived at by some qualitatively better method goes against my grain. You say science, experiment, proofs. I say intuition, sensory awareness, and observable consequences.

You say your professor told you so. I say my pastor told me so. They both have degrees from prestigious institutes of higher learning about that which they are expert.

Randy Kirk said...

I kind of intentionally left out the definition of "truth" or objective reality. I believe there is such. I just think that a color blind person sees it differently than me. However, given the entirity of human history and my own personal history, I suspect that we get "truth" right a lot of the time. The apple almost always is good and good for us. The chair is a chair and holds our weight.

But the truth of historical events, or of predictions of future events, is a much different kind of truth.

Extrapolations and interpolations of the sort that Dawkins makes in the Selfish gene are even further from objective truth. You may find it compelling and the resurection not so. I find the selfish gene to be just so and very circular and the resurection to be the most compelling truth in history.

bernardo said...

"When I talk about theists, I am referring specifically to those who extend a belief in the existence of god into a God and Its associated dogma."

So you're talking about religious people. Ok, that makes more sense. Lots of theists are not religious, y'know. When I talk about theists, I include people who have a vague belief in a higher power, not just people who are Christians or Jews or Muslims or whatever.

"Muslims, Christians, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, et al, each make exclusive, and contradictory, truth claims... There are no theist claims that are distinguishable from contradictory theist claims."

Yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all of them are wrong. It might mean that all of them are wrong except one. Besides, some of the claims they make do match - the difference is in details less basic than the existence and nature of a creator, and the role of humanity to help accomplish the creator's vision.

"This makes your analogy to politicians inappropriate. Some political solutions work better than others"

That is true. Like science, politics can be validated or invalidated by experiment, and religion cannot. But 1) you can always cling to old (e.g. communist) beliefs by saying that the experiment was not done properly, and 2) until the experiment is done, the fact that opposing hypotheses exist does not by itself indicate that none of the hypotheses is correct.

"I understand the lure of making such leaps of faith, but that doesn't make them excusable."

How do you know that what you see really exists, and is not some simulation played in your brain? How do you know that the universe follows the same rules, that similar circumstances/causes always lead to similar events/consequences? You make leaps of faith all the time. They are reasonable leaps of faith - without them, you would be paralized, and besides they do match your observations.

"Not only do theists use the concept of faith to shield their leaps from inspection..."

That is the REAL problem. I say we thoroughly inspect as many kinds of leaps of faith as we can, not only in their structure and consequences but also in their causes and reasons.

"... the inevitable consequence of conclusions from blinding ignorance is dogma, the essential element of religion. And the consequences of theist dogma -- uniquely revealed absolute truth -- are awful."

"Religion" does not equal "church". You're confusing the two. Many theists - I might even say, most theists - are pragmatic enough to disagree with at least some of their church's dogma. And, like I said at the beginning of this post, many theists are not affiliated with any church at all.

"materialists rely upon a very sparse set of entering arguments"

They seem sparse to us, but to a religious person they are more complicated and less intuitive than "God did it".

"and accept conclusions upon merit"

The world as I see it matches my naturalistic beliefs, but it also matches what a religious person would expect to see. They see as much merit in their assumptions as we see in ours (or almost as much merit, or sometimes even more merit), and you cannot disprove them.

"theists rely upon multiple, unrelated assumptions, and enforce conclusions by authority"

To them, the assumptions are tightly woven. And again, the church does not tell them what to believe, it just points out to them how the universe we all observe matches the beliefs the church promotes.

"As a materialist, I willing to accept "dunno" as the only intellectually honest answer to a whole cartload of questions. Theists are not."

That's not true. Most theists know that they don't really understand a lot about what God is like, what the universe is about, or what we as humans should do. Some theists do think they have the "truth" on these topics, but many don't think that. In general, though, I do agree that naturalists tend to be better at saying what they think followed by a "at least that's what I know so far, as far as I can tell, unless I missed something".

"Finally, materialist claims are point of view independent. There are no such things as Islamic science, or Mormon science. That must qualify as starkly distinguishing materialists from theists."

That is indeed true, and it goes back to why my analogy with politicians is imperfect: Naturalism is about experimenting and beign pragmatic, while the core of religion involves NOT optimizing your guesses and assumptions. Randy and I have debated these points on this blog: He values the inflexibility of Bible-based moral absolutes, and I see it as a terrible lack of pragmatism. Just because a world view apparently "works", doesn't mean it could not be improved by experimentation. And the cost of not experimenting could be higher than the cost of experimenting and breaking something.

However, no experiment can prove or disprove the hypothesis that the universe was deliberately created by an intelligent being with a plan. For all effects and purposes, the Jesus story can't be disproven either. And while a certain scientific model may be disproven, the assumptions that science makes (the world always follows the same rules, similar circumstances/causes always lead to similar events/consequences) cannot really be tested either. So I do insist that the two are more similar than you think - although I agree with you that the world would be better if more religious people were more pragmatic about their morals and more introspective aboue their leaps of faith.

Randy Kirk said...

Bernardo,

I think that God has allowed for a lot of experimentation, and those who don't believe can experiment away. Those who do believe end up experimenting also. It is called sin, and it doesn't end after we get dunked.

The problem is that the kind of experimentation that folks outside the faith are inclined to do is pretty risky, envelope pushing, and commonly done without much foundation laying.

So, we have eugenics within 50 years of Darwin. We have the take-over of Russia by the communists within years of the economic theory being proposed by Marx. We have free love and unfettered sex within two decades of Kinsey.

Hey Skipper said...

A pox upon word verification, as its horrid design caused me to lose a post here.

Bernardo:

You misuse the worth theist, by making it indistinguishable from deist.

theism |ˈθēˌizəm| belief in the existence of a god or gods, esp. belief in one god as creator of the universe, intervening in it and sustaining a personal relation to his creatures. Compare with deism .

deism |ˈdēizəm| belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind. Compare with theism.

Theism, therefore, specifically applies to the type of belief essential for religion. Deism and religion are a non-sequitor. I am sure there are some people who believe in a personal god without any sort of religion as an intermediary, but I strongly suspect they are statistically insignificant.

Yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all of [the indistinguishable truth claims] are wrong. It might mean that all of them are wrong except one.

Never said it did. However, claiming to possess absolute universal truth, in the face of indistinguishable, and equally universal claims to the contrary afflicts only theists.

Consequently, equating theistic and materialistic knowledge is wrong on its face.

Many theists - I might even say, most theists - are pragmatic enough to disagree with at least some of their church's dogma.

Which holes their theism below the water line.

Why? Some of that dogma is via revelation. There is absolutely no basis within any religion by which to reject some elements of revelation, whilst accepting the rest.

Not that people, and entire sects, don't do it all the time, but that doesn't stop it making a mockery of the belief they proclaim.

Randy:

Christians say "I dunno" a lot. Can't explain the trinity. Can't explain how God and Heaven can be eternal. [etc]

That is not saying dunno. Stating there is a trinity is very much saying "know," without saying "understand."

Similarly for God and Heaven not having a first cause. You presume to know the truth of their existence, despite being completely unable to distinguish from a contradictory assertion.

bernardo said...

Skipper,

I thought that "theist" was a vague enough term that it did not exclude deists. I guess I could be wrong. I'll check.

And I'm glad to hear I am not the only one who hates these captchas, which NEVER work the first time. (But if Randy thinks they do a good job of keeping spam down... well, it's his choice).

Randy Kirk said...

A pox on spammers. Especially those who are selling something or promoting their sex sites. I have spent far too many hours cleaning up their trash. So, while I hate the word verifactions, too, I have no choice.

I would personally agree that the hardest problem for relgionists (how's that) in the logical debate is that all of our translations can't be accurate, and all of our doctrine can't be right, and if Christianity is the only path to heaven, then what about fine folks who pray more than I do, and seem closer to their god than me?

And I don't pretend to have a cute one paragraph answer to that. Which might be why I have more-or-less limited the debate here to God or no God.

Personally, I've done a fair amount of studying of other religions (book only), and I think the Christian answer rings more true. While I am definitely an "only those who trust Christ and have a personal relationship with God go to heaven" type of guy, I suspect that there will be surprises in the afterlife. Maybe more than one heaven or not-hell. Maybe additional chances to decide. If Christ could save the thief on the cross, is it a stretch to say that there could be other chances after death. Non other than CS Lewis wrote a fictional account of such an idea.

Randy Kirk said...

Kit,

have you written anything on the general question of absolute truth and its consequences. If yes, might we post a 3-5 para version of it here? If not, would you like to write a guest post on the subject?

Hey Skipper said...

Randy:

The Daily Duck started getting spam, so Duck turned on word verification.

Relatively recently he turned it off and, so far as I know, is getting little or no spam. The front end must be getting better at filtering it out.

Of the many problems with the way blogger handles it is that the screen re-writes from the top, meaning that any thread with more than a few comments puts the comment box below the bottom of the window.

Why does that matter?

Because if blogger accepts the word verification, the acceptance message appears at the top of the window; if not, the error message appears at the bottom, meaning it is out of view!

To make matters worse, there is apparently a timer on the presented word. So with a longish comment (perhaps I should take the hint), blogger will reject a correctly entered word, then put the error message out of view.

I have spent part of my life as a software engineer, and if there is any functional implementation worse than this, I sure can't remember it.

Which might be why I have more-or-less limited the debate here to God or no God.

Unfortunately, that is a sterile debate.

It is the claims made on behalf of the presumed god that are the problem, not the deist question as to whether a god exists.

For example, Islam wants me dead.

I find that something of a problem.

bernardo said...

"here is apparently a timer on the presented word. So with a longish comment (perhaps I should take the hint)..."

My thoughts exactly. I can imagine myself sending a complain email and getting back a message that boils down to "Normal people don't write 500-word blog comments..."

Anonymous said...

"have you written anything on the general question of absolute truth and its consequences."

I assume I have at some point, but in the area of "discussions about theism", it's not of a particular interest to me. While there are some issues that I might be interested in writing a 3-5 paragraph post about, "absolute truth and its consequences" would probably not be on that list.

I appreciate the offer, though.

Also, I find that I prefer writing responses to other people's posts, as opposed to writing posts for a general audience. I hope that made sense.

Kit

Randy Kirk said...

Kit,

I can see why the belief claims are important to the overall issue, and why they are commonly the reason folks seem to leave a belief in God when they have been raised in it (or at least among those blogging about it.) But I don't think that taking the doctrine out makes the debate sterile. You may or may not have noticed, but I have the same scientific inclination as you do. I want things to make sense, to be logical, and provable.

Therefore, this blog starts 3 months ago with the premise that the weight of the "evidence" comes down on the side of God existing. My proposition is that the debate should center on the specific proof claim for God existing or not. Many atheists and agnostics seem to suggest or say outright that there is absolutely no evidence for God. I think that statement is intellectually dishonest, and that is why we have this blog.

We stray into doctrine, and that's ok when it contributes to the core debate.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so what do you see as evidence of a god?

Kit

Anonymous said...

Also, if and when you answer this, please try to answer in a way that you think would be persuasive to me, or another nontheist.

Lastly, I don't say, "there is no evidence of god"... I say, "I don't see any evidence of a god". I hope you see the difference between the two statements, although I see "there is no evidence of god" as simply being the shorthand version of saying, "I don't see any evidence of a god".

Obviously, if I saw evidence of a god, I would probably believe in that god.

Kit

Randy Kirk said...

As a law school grad, we spent a lot of time on the subject of evidence. Inductive, deductive, prima facia, circumstantial. Lately I've been reading up on cummulative evidence, which I will post about at some point.

If you haven't already read the January posts, the evidence that I propose to be worthy of being weighed is laid out in great detail. Example, the fact that huge numbers of people claim to have an experience and a belief is evidence. You may not give it much weight, but I can assure you that you use that argument for things all the time. It is human to use polls and such as evidence of truth. Therefore, I submit that to not give any weight to this evidence would be unscientific and illogical.

The goal of these exercises is not really to convince you of God, but rather to engage in freewheeling debate and try to get lots of ideas on the table.

Anonymous said...

"Example, the fact that huge numbers of people claim to have an experience and a belief is evidence. You may not give it much weight, but I can assure you that you use that argument for things all the time."

Randy, I can assure you that I DON'T use that argument for things all the time, because I take great care to intentionally NOT use it.

It's called argumentum ad populum, and it's a logical fallacy. It's also known as argumentum ad numerum ("appeal to the number").

I have taken great pains to avoid using logical fallacies in my arguments, and that's one of the most common ones, so it's one of the easiest for me to focus on.

"Therefore, I submit that to not give any weight to this evidence would be unscientific and illogical."

So you think that pointing out a logical fallacy is illogical? Huh whaaa??

Do you have any objective, verifiable, evidence of a god that's not based on a logical fallacy?

By the way, Randy (and anyone else), any time you see me use a logical fallacy, please call me on it so that I can either re-write or junk the argument.

Kit

Anonymous said...

Randy, I guess I'm trying to say that when you wrote "I can assure you that you use that argument for things all the time", you couldn't be further off the mark. I try to find every logical fallacy in my arguments before I make them, and I'll happily junk arguments that even have the slightest hint of a logical fallacy in them. If someone points out a logical fallacy in an argument I make, I'll happily junk that, too.

Arguments containing logical fallacies are worthless to me, except for very relaxed settings amongst close friends.

That situation ain't the case on a debate blog. :-)

Kit

Randy Kirk said...

Kit,

Don't sit on any jury's then. I think the appeal to numbers problem has much more to do with philosophy than examination of evidence.

If I look at something far away, and I can't quite figure out what it says, I might ask my wife. If she thinks it says something different, we might ask 2 or 3 others. We will all likely be satisfied if a substantial majority agree.

The United Nations is currently making quite a show of the fact that they have 2500 Scientists who say GW is true. Guess we need to point out that they are using a logical fallacy

Anonymous said...

Randy,

"The United Nations is currently making quite a show of the fact that they have 2500 Scientists who say GW is true. Guess we need to point out that they are using a logical fallacy"

Absolutely.

What made you think that I wasn't consistent about this opinion?

Of course, there's a vast difference, to me at least, between a large number of people saying, "I believe [something]" and "I've ran some tests on the data we have, and you can run these tests yourself, and the results suggest [something]".

And really... it's not "I believe [something]" but "I have faith that [something] is true".

But I define "faith" as "belief in something without, or in spite of, the evidence". Your definition might be different.

"If I look at something far away, and I can't quite figure out what it says, I might ask my wife. If she thinks it says something different, we might ask 2 or 3 others. We will all likely be satisfied if a substantial majority agree."

Which is why I wrote:

"Arguments containing logical fallacies are worthless to me, except for very relaxed settings amongst close friends."

Please note the emphasis, and how it applies to the example you gave.

"Don't sit on any jury's then."

Why?

"I think the appeal to numbers problem has much more to do with philosophy than examination of evidence."

Please explain, as I don't understand what you mean.

Kit

Randy Kirk said...

A jury listens to and views evidence. The community agrees to allow the jury to make decisions for the community based on a majority or super majority or unanimous opinion about the evidence they have seen.

On the other hand, if I was discussing free will vs determinism, I could get a jury of 100 to listen to the debate. The fact that 10 or 50 or all 100 decided free will was truth would not be dispositive. Or at least it would be far less persuasive.

On the third hand, we do this kind of thing all the time with debates, polls, and such. Thus, whether or not you think it is fallacious, humans seem to place great stock in it.

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, if I was discussing free will vs determinism, I could get a jury of 100 to listen to the debate. The fact that 10 or 50 or all 100 decided free will was truth would not be dispositive. Or at least it would be far less persuasive."

Exactly. That's the situation we're in now.

"On the third hand, we do this kind of thing all the time with debates, polls, and such."

Maybe you do, but I sure as heck don't. I would be a far different person if I did.

"Thus, whether or not you think it is fallacious, humans seem to place great stock in it."

Do you not agree that argumentum ad numerum is a logical fallacy?

Whether or not other humans seem to place "great stock" (which I doubt) in it, I don't. I don't because critical thinking is very important to me, as is formal logic. If an argument is logically fallacious, no matter who says it, I throw it out. I've found that this works well in my life.

Kit

Randy Kirk said...

How does this logical approach work with your wife. My personal experience is that it is not that helpful. Women tend to (not all) put much more stock in their feelings than in the facts. Or, maybe I should say that to them, the facts include their feelings. I have struggled with this a lot, and blogged about it a lot over at http://ideaplace.blogspot.com.

Anonymous said...

"How does this logical approach work with your wife."

I don't have a wife, but I do have female friends and I've had my share of girlfriends, so I'll apply your question to my interactions with them.

Here's the thing: I don't get into debates or heated arguments with friends or family, so I don't really go into formal or informal logic with them. I only debate with people who aren't my friends or family.

So, basically, for the most part, it's not an issue. When I do go into "logic mode" with women I know, it's mostly due to their request, because seeing problems with arguments is something that I'm known for.

For example, a female friend was in a debate/argument with someone. She was given an argument that she feels is wrong, but doesn't know why. So, she calls me up, presents the argument to me, and then I explain to her why the argument is fallacious, and how she can best respond to it.

I hope that answered your question.

Kit

Randy Kirk said...

It explains things very usefully in the personal side of your life.

However, are you aware of the much reported upon phenomenon among many women outlined above. They put great stock in their feelings as opposed to the facts. We know that their feelings are real. The next question might be whether their feelings are justified. However, to the extent that you show by word or body language that you are not validating those feelings, you are likely to be sleeping alone.

Validating might take the form of saying "I can understand how you might feel that way," but my experience would suggest you better actually mean it or be a great actor. If your next comment is a factoid or list of evidences to show that the feeling was not justified, then its back to the couch.

Since half of the race, and by far the most religious half, put so much stock in feelings, how does that play out in the scheme of determing "truth?"ra