Saturday, September 22, 2007

Validity: Anatomy Of a Truth.

You know I hate to keep pounding the same subject, but I think this idea of validity is important. I mean I am sitting here writing, hoping people will read and agree with me. So really the whole point of this exercise is about validity. Since I have about 6 readers, most of them my reluctant friends, and I am using this blog as a resource to collect ideas for my book, who is really going to complain. At least not anymore then they already do.

First lets outline the philosophy of reason. There are various levels of how we learn. By learning we give concise validity to idea. Validated ideas allow us to make progressive correct decisions in the future. The first level of validity comes from our 5 senses. Anything we can touch, taste, see, hear, or smell to validate is easy to believe. For example I could be standing outside on a bright sunny day and somebody could say, "the sky is blue." I can look up and validate that statement. There is a direct connection between the statement and the information required to back it up. I don’t need to know the credentials of the person who was supplying me the information. It doesn’t matter what his relationship, or motives or education is. I can look up and see the information is valid.


The next level of validation is low level reasoning. Somebody says 6X5=30. You have seen the meaning of the words six and five. In elementary school you counted six oranges, five airplanes whatever. It is relational knowledge. What you know as "one", somebody else might know as "uno". Still at this point you still need to know nothing about the credentials of the person that made the statement. He delivers the statement, you use your own reasoning, and the statement is confirmed.


Then there is information that you could reason, but you also might just accept. Lets say that somebody tells you that water boils at 100° C. now you may have boiled water hundreds of times before. However, you may have never actually put a thermometer in water and watched it boil at a specific temperature. You certainly could do it. But in the interest of time you look at the person who tells you, asses some credentials, incorporate what you know about heating and cooking in general, and accept the statement as fact. If the guy telling you that was the same one who told you 5X6=30 then he has made the acceptance a little easier. However, had he said 5X6=2 then you will have to do your own calculations later. He may be right about the 100-degree boiling point. But, he has lost his assurance of validity.


The last general category is the acceptance of the validity of a statement based solely on the acceptance of the credibility of the person making the statement. There is no relative reasoning you can apply. Say Buzz Armstrong tells you, "The gravity on the moon is 1/6th of Earth’s gravity." He has already told you the sky is blue and he got 30 for 5X6 so you give credit for his intellect. You have read other information that theorized it might be true, but then again more information you have to kind of accept. It is widely accepted, however not completely undisputed, that he has actually set foot on the moon. So you give him your confidence and accept his statement as true.


There are further extensions of this concept in the fact that, maybe "Buzz" himself didn't give you that information, but one of his children said that he told them that the gravity was 1/6th of the Earth’s. This type of validity is called "trust". Now you are once more removed from the source of validation. Now you have to accept that the person that told you made an accurate assessment of the person who gave then the information. This is when motives and relationships come into play. By what gage did they use to judge the validity of the given information? Would there be a benefit in lying to me about the information given? These types of integrity of source questions must be computed in your head, and then a validity level must be assessed.


There is one last form of validly. It is one I am unwilling to subscribe to myself, however many people use it as a factor. It is validity given to a source even though often no supporting evidences, or in many cases opposing evidence, exists. This level of validity is called "Faith". "The earth was created in 7 days 6000 years ago". People believe this statement. They believe it despite all the evidence to the contrary. They believe it because it would be the most beneficial answer to them if it were valid. They want it to be, so they believe it to be. It is the faithful that are the problem with this world. Their acceptance is based on fear not logic. The problem is that you can not reason with them. They are stuck in a glass box. They can see the answers, they are right there on front of their face. But you can not reach them.


Now "faith" is way different then "trust". Faith insinuates blind acceptance. Trust is something that is earned by having a few criteria met and some information given proven to be accurate. Now some people have such shallow criteria that it is dangerously close to faith. The best way to determine if your validation is due to trust simply ask if there is an unbroken chain between you and the physical source. By source I mean the sight, feel, sound, taste, or smell. This is why I have a problem with religion. There is still no documentable, indisputable evidence of people going to the other side and coming back.

The gray area between the faith and trust is where things like patriotism reside.

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