Reason Group
@ K. 2001 08 11

Evidence Is Non-Existent without Theory

Throughout these files, in one way or another, I iterate variations of the point:

Societies are based on agreement within the group;
Science is based on agreement with the evidence.

But what is evidence? What I want to say today even though I don’t have time to develop it ideally, is, as I say about so many core concepts, the concept of evidence, like the concept of “fact,” the concept of “truth,” is tricky. There’s no such thing as evidence apart from some theory of knowing. Evidence is subordinate to epistemology, not epistemology to evidence.

Nietzsche said that there are not facts, only interpretations: I expand the same observation to evidence.

Eddington pleased Einstein and his supporters when he took measurements of light from a momentarily eclipsed star as evidence. The theory was that no demon was faking the information far from the magician-polluted earth. On earth the rest of us are pleased to see the lady sawn in half: knowing that the evidence is magician-polluted. Einstein wanted not to be fooled; we want only to be fooled. But there’s no proof that Einstein (and Jesus … and you … and me … aren’t fooled also.

That’s why we must know our epistemology before our claims to know anything are ’ought but laughable.

And of course I agree with Eddington and Einstein. We don’t know that no demon is fiddling the star light; but we do know that six billion demons are fiddling everything filtered to us through society.

Individuals may be honest: for occasional moments. But are societies ever honest? even for a moment?

If I can practice my FreeHand skills enough I’ll attempt a cartoon (or a series) for illustration. Meantime: police departments have evidence rooms, the FBI has evidence rooms … The trouble is, they’re manned by workers for the state. The Church’s evidence rooms are manned by workers for the Church.

Picture a big NY bank. Billions of dollars worth of gold is kept in subterranean vaults. The vaults have cages. The cages are labeled: USA, Great Britain, France … Cayman Islands … Washington wants to give England X million dollars. Some guy in the NY bank loads so much gold onto a wagon in the US cage, wheels it out, opens the GB cage, wheels it in, stacks the gold.

Now imagine the Platonic Original Evidence Room for Kleptocracies. There’s a cage for Baal, a cage for Yahweh … a cage for the Temple of Solomon, for the Vatican … for the FBI … for Blackwell, for Copperfield … And in small print somewhere there’s a little sign that says Acme Toy Co.

The idea of evidence in a centralized information system is laughable. At Judgment Day if God points to evidence lying undisturbed in the universe, listen. If God has minions truck out “evidence” kept in an evidence bag in a vault in heaven (or hell), stop taking God seriously: you’re still in LaLa Land.

I want to add that science tries, or is supposed to try, to take its evidence from Pleroma, the scientific assumption being that Pleroma is distinct (and interference-free) from Creatura/Sentiens. (See my Existential Sets [to be remounted ASAP].)

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some objective referent: the Teutonic Ordeal by Water, for example: if you stay drowned, you’re innocent. The Indonesian Celestial Judgment may be better since it gave the innocent a chance to survive. I’d go into my one of the pair of Towers of Torture at any time if I were only convinced that Church or State, yes, or Public Science, would fairly ascend to the other: no cheating.

Whoever came down last would inherit the earth. And the starlight.

I’ll tell you what I’d like to see: a Celestial Trial between God and Satan. See who comes down first front his tower of torture. In science, we don’t know the outcome until we’ve gathered the evidence; in faith, we know the “final results” in advance. Notice how conspicuously human decision-making institutions (justice systems, etc.) are institutions of faith masked as evidence-based. Human beings allow this year’s rutting battles to be supervised by last year’s winners. No. The King of the Wood (see Sir James Frazer, The Golden Bough</strong) had only one claim to divinity: he killed the previous king. The present king must be vulnerable to the next king or it’s a farce: a staged farce.

I am pleased (and not at all surprised) to discover that Timothy Ferris makes wonderful science documentaries. His Life Beyond Earth led me to seek out his Creation of the Universe which I only just now finished my first viewing of. He argues that modern science is based in, analogous with, monotheism: one God, one set of physical laws: invariants: principles.

Knowledge is based in belief. But knowledge isn’t necessarily truth. The truth may be something else again. Though I sure hope not.

2016 10 08 I just watched a documentary on Amanda Knox. Hitherto I’d ignored the media hysteria. I didn’t know who she was, I didn’t trust the media to inform me: now I’ve absorbed some, I’m glad. Thug pollute all potential evidence, breath on it, then jail people based on their hubris. The cop iterates that Italy is a sovereign state. Yeah: that’s the trouble: with all of us.

K. Teaching Thinking Tools Reason

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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