Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happily Infecting Ourselves With Our Own Flaws

Story: After the Fact: In the history of truth, a new chapter begins

For a while now I have reached the opinion that humans are too flawed to retrieve facts and base our actions upon them. Part of the reason is that whatever we think are facts today are subject to being falsified because we made the original judgment based on imperfect information. We can never know what we don't know, and when that changes with new information we still won't know what we don't know and can't take it into account.

This article reminds me a little of something I read five years ago or so (in New Scientist, I think, but not sure) an article about how much Einstein was opposed (and still is in some circles). Before he came along, science was something considerably more tangible to the scientists of the time. The scientific discoveries of the 18th and 19th centuries were able to be easily grasped by anyone with even a moderate education. But Einstein told everyone that what they understood was in some ways an illusion and the universe couldn't be properly understood using the facts and discoveries made up to that time.

I do think empiricism is in error because we humans are involved in the process, forcing a result with flaws. We can minimize those flaws with time and taking steps to accommodate our contamination of what we do. But I'm not sure we'll ever be able to totally get out of our own way.

In the article it is suggested that everyone is after facts, which I don't thin is true at all. What a lot of people are after is a justification for their opinions in order to call them facts. If we were actually looking for facts, we would have a pretty large consensus on just about everything. But we haven't, which to me just shows how much we happily infect ourselves with our flaws.

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