Seeing is believing, and believing is seeing!

Posted on April 3, 2011

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Jenny: ” So Professor we have two sources of truth kicking around. First we believe or trust what we see. – like rocks, trees, and teeth – they’re real and true.  But we also trust and accept as true a lot of stuff we can’t see. Like 50 million Republican’s believed that  George Bush would make a great president – they saw him as a true and trustworthy leader. However 50 million Democrats disagreed, they believed and saw him as a REALLY  bad choice. So beliefs can lead us to see false things, false presents and false futures. ”

The Truth?

Peter: ” So we have two realities – one based on what we see, hear and touch – like hot stoves and steering wheels. And a second that we can’t see, one we blindly believe to be real and true – like the future, our marriage, our job, our investments, our government, our health, etc..”

Professor Wiggly: ” Yes, scholars talk about two models of truth. The first is called the correspondence model – the seeing is believing model, the model supposedly based on hard evidence. The model that says my beliefs correspond with what I see. Most of us think that’s what science is all about –  believing that scientific theories correspond with what scientists see in their experiments. But there is rarely enough evidence to support big truths, and there is often conflicting or fuzzy evidence – for example there’s very little hard evidence about the future. So scientific theories are really promissory notes which are essentially bets about the future – as the JAPANESE  have just learned to their regret, and so has the wife with a cheating husband discovered, or the homeowner who just lost his home finds out, or discovers when tol he’s got terminal cancer. Like our personal bets scientific bets are fallible.  So we need a model of truth that helps us manage uncertainty. So we not only use the correspondence model – we believe what we see – but scientists need another model that fills in the gaps when they have incomplete or conflicting evidence. When we lack evidence we rely on how well out beliefs fit in with other trusted beliefs – it’s called the consistency theory or model of truth.

Believing is seeing

For instance we vote for people who tell us what we want to hear – we vote for those whose promissory notes are consistent with or fit our pet beliefs and biases. Lacking evidence concerning many critical problems scientists trust those scientific promissory notes that fit – or are consistent with – their current scientific beliefs. And since we lack reliable information or evidence about our most pressing questions – those concerning the future – science must rely very heavily on the consistency model of truth.  Therefore much of modern science consists of theories built upon theories built upon theories – on a tower of promissory notes.”

The truth?; Flickr.com/photos/georgemo/2328416634

Believing is seeing: .flickr.com/photos/36691141@N04/

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Posted in: Sciencing