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Posted by Harvey on April 23, 2002 18:19:09 UTC

Aurino,

I know I only have your attention for brief moments, but here it goes anyway...

***H: Until satellites were launched we could even say that the 'earth is round' was a belief based on good inductive reasoning A: That statement is absolutely wrong. Long before Columbus set sail, people knew (as opposed to "believed") the earth was round. They even knew its circumference, quite accurately given the limitation of their instruments.***

All of that knowledge prior to any visual confirmation is by inference (well, even pictures are inference, but I'm assuming that if you see it you'll believe it). If you start accepting readings of instruments, then why not accept the readings of the COBE satellite that detects the EM of the Big Bang? In fact, we can even see early galactic formation with Hubble's Deep Field project ( http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pr/1996/01.html ). Soon, we might even see pre-galactic structures. I'm sure that won't convince you, will it?

***H: Facts are beliefs A: No, they are not.***

Yes, they are. And, I'll even give you a reason. The human mind can be fooled by illusions. There is no means to know if something is an illusion or if something is a fact. We can only guage information about the world through our perceptions, and those perceptions are fallible. Our fallibist science can only produce what appears to be truths that correspond with our perceptions, but we cannot get beyond this point. Hence, 'facts' are beliefs. Belief meaning any opinion that we hold to be true but cannot absolutely prove. Science is fallibistic, so the 'facts' of science are also beliefs. Some facts are apparently more fallibistic than others, but that doesn't change the inherent nature of a 'fact'.

***H: and beliefs are often facts A: Now this is funny. If facts are beliefs, and beliefs are often facts, the above sentence can be rewritten as: "beliefs are often beliefs"***

Facts are a certain kind of belief. All facts are a subset of all beliefs. However, not all beliefs are a subset of all facts. So, it can be rewritten as: "beliefs(1) are often beliefs(2)".

***Excuse me if I can't make any sense of what you're saying.***

That's why I'm trying to help you. That's more than what most people will do. They might just insult and write you off as whatever (remember Alex?). But, I think you are a smart guy that if the discussion continues long enough (a big, big if) then eventually your intelligence will naturally lead to a new and better understanding. The trouble is that most misinformed people don't want to travel down that path, and therefore they rely on logical fallacies or changing the topic (or cutting off communication entirely) to protect themselves from the natural conclusions that their intellectual abilities will lead them.

Have fun, Harv

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