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Proof Is Definitely Overrated

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on July 12, 2002 16:12:15 UTC

Hi Mike,

***I guess we just don't agree on this.***

To the contrary. I think we do agree. I just haven't communicated very well.

***Proof helps illuminate "truth", I think, only in topic areas which are resolvable without fuzzy logic.

Proof independent of prefererences and context only works at the most specific levels of math and physics and chemistry.***

I agree but I think it is even more restricted. I think proof only works in mathematics and logic, and only has meaning in logic, if there.

***Persons also "know" other information, they think...***

And I agree completely with what you wrote here. I think that your placing "know" in quotes is equivalent to my saying "to know anything for sure". In spite of knowing little or nothing "for sure", there is no doubt that we "know" many things at a sufficient level of accuracy to make that knowledge work for us. I see our knowledge as falling on a spectrum of confidence with absolute truth at one extreme and the wildest superstition at the other extreme.

***Even if a matter is almost unfathomably deep, such as "meaning and purpose of life" the description of which would help determine a person or group's moral code...
One can demonstrate knowledge of that by providing accurate, coherent descriptions of relationships which give helpful insight into proper methods of optimizing the matter being considered.
"Accurate and coherent" descriptions are achieved by giving unbiased, well-quantified and causally logical descriptions which also enable or allow further critical examination...are "falsifiable."***

I agree completely with this admonition. It acknowledges that even though we might not know absolute truth, we can still make our decisions more moral by basing them on "knowledge" that falls closer to the "true" end of the spectrum I described. We can learn from each other which ideas are closer to the truth by the procedure of careful communication that you described.

***If you think you know something without following the procedure I outlined above, you are only talking about specific levels of math and physics and chemistry.

Do we disagree on that?***

I think we have no disagreement on that at all.

***Sorry you had to fly off the handle like that.:)***

I apologize for giving the impression that I had flown off the handle. I don't feel that I did but it might have looked that way. Sorry.

Warm regards,


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