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What to Believe?

A man name Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States: a fact. Eisenhower was a part of humanity's visual experience and is recorded history.

A man commonly known as Jesus was crucified almost two thousand years ago. We have reports of him from his contemporaries and we have reports of his trial and execution. This is the historical Jesus.

Was Jesus resurrected? Your choice. We have reports of this, but these reports might be hearsay rather than real observations. And resurrection is not something that has been widely corroborated empirically.

Was Barrack Obama born in Kenya? Evidence points to his having been born in the Hawaiian Islands.

Was President Kennedy assassinated by an agent of Fidel Castro? No available body of factual evidence indicates this.

To quote John Stuart Mill: "the general or prevailing opinion in any subject is rarely or never the whole truth."

John Lennon: "Most isms should become wasms."

Isaac Asimov: "Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in."

To paraphrase Francis Bacon: Avoid dogma. Keep an open mind. Both gather information and lay it in your mind digested by reason.

Science is built on collected observations, each observation a verifiable simplicity — nothing bloated or by itself grandiose. All claims turgid in metaphor and all generalizations (including those embodied in scientific claims) deserve to be scrutinized for overreach.

Look with suspicion upon arguments that employ the words as "postmodern" or "post-truth". Both words tend to be accusations, sometimes a false accusation of relativism. Nobody, including a BS artist, admits to being against truth or fact. "Postmodern" is a vague and perhaps pretentious generalization about admissions of less than complete knowledge about matters with complex interconnections. The subject discussed would be just as clear, or perhaps more clear, if the specifics of the subject were discussed without the label of postmodern attached.


CONTINUE READING: Knowledge and Progress

Copyright © 2018 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.