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A question to AronRa

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A question to AronRa
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*SD*User avatarPosts: 128Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post A question to AronRa

Hi LoR,

Been gone a while, so much to do and not enough hours in the day :) I hope everyone here is doing well.
I wondered if I might use the forum to ask a question of AronRa? This is likely in the wrong forum so mods feel free to move it if that would be best. Or if you feel it would be better suited to a PM then please let me know. I wanted it to be public as it may be of at least some interest to others. This is NOT a debate challenge, it's just something I (presently) disagree with AronRa over. I'll keep it short, and if Aron decides to reply, it may not even take long to clear it up.

My question relates to your (AronRa) "If you can't show it - you don't know it" position. I can think of instances where this does not work, or would at best be unreasonable. I am happy to give examples. Do you (AronRa) apply this to ALL claims or to those which just appear to be extraordinary? Only I've never heard you make that distinction, which leads me to think you apply it in all instances. I'm happy to expand/elaborate - but I'll leave it there for now to see if Aron has the time (or inclination) to have a (probably quick) conversation about it.

Thanks AronRa & LoR

*SD*
Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:00 pm
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he_who_is_nobodyBloggerUser avatarPosts: 3243Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:36 amLocation: Albuquerque, New Mexico Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

You should (at the very least) send AronRa a PM about this thread. I doubt AronRa regularly checks this website, thus giving him a heads up about this thread would help in getting this conversation underway.
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Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:10 pm
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*SD*User avatarPosts: 128Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

he_who_is_nobody wrote:You should (at the very least) send AronRa a PM about this thread. I doubt AronRa regularly checks this website, thus giving him a heads up about this thread would help in getting this conversation underway.


That sounds like a good idea, I thought about PM'ing him but he probably gets a daily deluge of questions etc from creationists (of which club I am not a member!) so he may not be interested. I'm every bit as much an atheist as he is, there are just one or two things I don't really agree with him on. I'll send him a quick PM, thanks HWIN :)
Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:17 pm
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SpecialFrogUser avatarPosts: 827Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:13 pmLocation: Great White North Gender: Tree

Post Re: A question to AronRa

*SD* wrote:My question relates to your (AronRa) "If you can't show it - you don't know it" position. I can think of instances where this does not work, or would at best be unreasonable. I am happy to give examples.

I suspect it may just be a matter of differing views on what "show it" means. I take the phrase to mean "if you can't demonstrate that a claim has a high probability of being true based on evidence and logic then the claim is not something you can say you know to be true".

But I'd be interested in your examples.
"Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place to rest" -- Albert Szent-Gyrgyi
Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:41 pm
*SD*User avatarPosts: 128Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

SpecialFrog wrote:I suspect it may just be a matter of differing views on what "show it" means. I take the phrase to mean "if you can't demonstrate that a claim has a high probability of being true based on evidence and logic then the claim is not something you can say you know to be true".

But I'd be interested in your examples.


Possibly. I've taken "show it" to mean demonstrate it, as in show that it actually happened or is actually true. If Aron does not extend the requirement to every claim and only applies it to those which seem unlikely then my objection goes away, but as I said earlier, I've never heard him make the distinction, he appears to apply this to all claims, if this is the case then my objection stands. But this, of course, is based on my understanding of what he actually means when he says it, which you were right to bring up. I have several examples in mind, although one should suffice to make my point, though whether I need to or not will rest on Aron's clarification. I'm fine with having the conversation with someone else (anyone else) but I want to give Aron the chance to respond to my PM (which I have sent) or to this thread first, only seems fair.
Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:53 pm
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MugnutsBloggerUser avatarPosts: 383Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:13 am Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

There is a talk in one of Aron's videos where he briefly explains this. It is just a catch phrase to sum up a larger point that sounds similar to SpecialFrog said.
I'll see if I can find it.
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Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:19 am
AronRaContributorUser avatarPosts: 511Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:47 pm

Post Re: A question to AronRa

*SD* wrote:Hi LoR,

Been gone a while, so much to do and not enough hours in the day :) I hope everyone here is doing well.
I wondered if I might use the forum to ask a question of AronRa? This is likely in the wrong forum so mods feel free to move it if that would be best. Or if you feel it would be better suited to a PM then please let me know. I wanted it to be public as it may be of at least some interest to others. This is NOT a debate challenge, it's just something I (presently) disagree with AronRa over. I'll keep it short, and if Aron decides to reply, it may not even take long to clear it up.

My question relates to your (AronRa) "If you can't show it - you don't know it" position. I can think of instances where this does not work, or would at best be unreasonable. I am happy to give examples. Do you (AronRa) apply this to ALL claims or to those which just appear to be extraordinary? Only I've never heard you make that distinction, which leads me to think you apply it in all instances. I'm happy to expand/elaborate - but I'll leave it there for now to see if Aron has the time (or inclination) to have a (probably quick) conversation about it.

Thanks AronRa & LoR

*SD*
There should be some expectation that we're talking about extraordinary claims, but it doesn't have to be. If you tell me you saw some trivial thing about your day, I'm probably not going to challenge you on it. But you could still be wrong even about trivial things. My clarifyer is that if you can't demonstrate your accuracy to any degree at all by any means whatsoever then you cannot actually know what you say you know. Again, trivial matters are inconsequential and not worth discussion. We're really only talking about contested points here, where you're claiming knowledge against another's information or evidence.
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." - Friedrich Nietzsche.
"Faith is believing what you know ain't so." - Mark Twain
Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:40 am
*SD*User avatarPosts: 128Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

AronRa wrote:There should be some expectation that we're talking about extraordinary claims, but it doesn't have to be. If you tell me you saw some trivial thing about your day, I'm probably not going to challenge you on it. But you could still be wrong even about trivial things. My clarifyer is that if you can't demonstrate your accuracy to any degree at all by any means whatsoever then you cannot actually know what you say you know. Again, trivial matters are inconsequential and not worth discussion. We're really only talking about contested points here, where you're claiming knowledge against another's information or evidence.


Many thanks for the response!
Whilst there is (or would be) an expectation on my part that you are only referring to extraordinary claims, saying "but it doesn't have to be" seems mildly contradictory, to me at least. I agree that trivial matters which are inconsequential aren't what you're going for here. Maybe I could reword my question including an example, as I stated I would?

This morning, after coming down stairs after a great nights sleep, I entered the bathroom and stubbed my toe on the door frame. There is no damage to neither the door frame nor my toe, nobody saw it happen, I was alone in the house. This is a very trivial thing, of no consequence to man nor beast. You likely wouldn't challenge me over it, nor demand evidence I've already admitted I don't have. However - should I say I know it happened? Or back off to a position wherein I simply believe it happened? This would seem unreasonable to me, even withstanding the fact that it is a very trivial claim.
We know toes exist, we know stairs exist, as do door frames. I dare say a fair few reading this post, including your self have stubbed their toe on something at some point.
I just want to reiterate, I know the aforementioned stubbing of my toe is utterly trivial, and impacts nobody/nothing (other than my toe, and door frame) in any way - but can I claim I know it happened given that I can't show it? I don't see how I could demonstrate my accuracy to any degree at all by any means whatsoever...
Or does my example fail given that it's not something you would contest in the first place?
Fri Nov 27, 2015 3:17 pm
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AronRaContributorUser avatarPosts: 511Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:47 pm

Post Re: A question to AronRa

*SD* wrote:
AronRa wrote:There should be some expectation that we're talking about extraordinary claims, but it doesn't have to be. If you tell me you saw some trivial thing about your day, I'm probably not going to challenge you on it. But you could still be wrong even about trivial things. My clarifyer is that if you can't demonstrate your accuracy to any degree at all by any means whatsoever then you cannot actually know what you say you know. Again, trivial matters are inconsequential and not worth discussion. We're really only talking about contested points here, where you're claiming knowledge against another's information or evidence.


Many thanks for the response!
Whilst there is (or would be) an expectation on my part that you are only referring to extraordinary claims, saying "but it doesn't have to be" seems mildly contradictory, to me at least. I agree that trivial matters which are inconsequential aren't what you're going for here. Maybe I could reword my question including an example, as I stated I would?

This morning, after coming down stairs after a great nights sleep, I entered the bathroom and stubbed my toe on the door frame. There is no damage to neither the door frame nor my toe, nobody saw it happen, I was alone in the house. This is a very trivial thing, of no consequence to man nor beast. You likely wouldn't challenge me over it, nor demand evidence I've already admitted I don't have. However - should I say I know it happened? Or back off to a position wherein I simply believe it happened? This would seem unreasonable to me, even withstanding the fact that it is a very trivial claim.
We know toes exist, we know stairs exist, as do door frames. I dare say a fair few reading this post, including your self have stubbed their toe on something at some point.
I just want to reiterate, I know the aforementioned stubbing of my toe is utterly trivial, and impacts nobody/nothing (other than my toe, and door frame) in any way - but can I claim I know it happened given that I can't show it? I don't see how I could demonstrate my accuracy to any degree at all by any means whatsoever...
Or does my example fail given that it's not something you would contest in the first place?
Again, if you can't confirm it to any degree at all by any means whatsoever, then how would you know if you really know that?
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." - Friedrich Nietzsche.
"Faith is believing what you know ain't so." - Mark Twain
Sun Nov 29, 2015 9:19 pm
*SD*User avatarPosts: 128Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

AronRa wrote:Again, if you can't confirm it to any degree at all by any means whatsoever, then how would you know if you really know that?


Well, I suppose that's kinda what my question to you is...
Should I be saying that I know this event happened? Or should I be questioning my self as to whether it did at all? If that's the case, I'm going to need to question innumerable things about my day, or even my whole life. What should I be saying or feeling about that event? Keeping in mind I can't demonstrate or evidence it to any degree whatsoever?
This is why I wanted clarification as to whether you were only applying the "If you can't show it you don't know it" standard to extraordinary/unlikely/serious/stuff that actually matters claims or right across the board with any claim at all.
How many things have 'happened' to you today which you can't demonstrate or evidence to any degree to anyone else? Maybe you sneezed when no one was around, or touched a teacup or stumbled on something underfoot... all these things being entirely trivial doesn't really matter because you left the door open for me to bring trivial things into it when you said "but it doesn't have to be" - if you'd said you only applied this standard to things which actually matter I would have promptly shut up...
Not trying to start an argument or anything, I'm a fan of yours, I'm just having a bit of trouble agreeing with you on this one...
Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:24 pm
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SpecialFrogUser avatarPosts: 827Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:13 pmLocation: Great White North Gender: Tree

Post Re: A question to AronRa

SD, the weight of evidence needed to support a claim is proportional to its improbability. Your having witnessed the toe stubbing is evidence of it occurring. Uncorroborated eye witness evidence is not great evidence but given that the claim has a low improbability, it is enough to accept it as more likely true than false.

It is not enough to demonstrate it to be almost certainly true. Even you should not assume that it could not be false given the unreliability of memory and the fact that you had just woken up (in this example).

However, the degree of certainly needed to accept a claim depends on the consequences of that acceptance. A friend would probably accept it and move along. An insurance company being asked to pay a claim on it would demand a higher degree of certainty.
"Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place to rest" -- Albert Szent-Gyrgyi
Mon Nov 30, 2015 2:12 pm
LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2948Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

I don't think it is unreasonable to state that with regards to mundane claims there's no reason to reject them outright despite the lack of evidence. If there's no pressing reason to assume someone is lying or mistaken then it's not unreasonable to accept what they say. That might be imprecise but it works in most instances with regards to mundane claims. Although strictly speaking they can't show it and therefore we can't know it.

I think it's pretty clear however that Aron is talking about extraordinary claims. Not "I had soup for dinner" but "I spoke to Jesus last night". I don't think it entails questioning everything everyone says to you. We need to operate under certain assumptions to function in society and one of these is to trust people when there is no reason not to. Clearly there is a reason (or two) not to trust someone if they say they met aliens in person...



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Mon Nov 30, 2015 2:39 pm
*SD*User avatarPosts: 128Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

SpecialFrog wrote:SD, the weight of evidence needed to support a claim is proportional to its improbability.


Sure, no problem with that

SpecialFrog wrote: Your having witnessed the toe stubbing is evidence of it occurring. Uncorroborated eye witness evidence is not great evidence but given that the claim has a low improbability, it is enough to accept it as more likely true than false.


I didn't only witness it, i experienced it. I have already admitted this is a very trivial claim which is utterly unimportant in any way at all, but I don't see why it matters (that it's trivial) as Aron has stated that he isn't restricting the standard to claims which are important/significant/extraordinary etc.

SpecialFrog wrote:It is not enough to demonstrate it to be almost certainly true. Even you should not assume that it could not be false given the unreliability of memory and the fact that you had just woken up (in this example).


I don't make that assumption. I do however, feel it is unreasonable to expect me to question it to any meaningful degree. As I stated, I'd end up having to doubt my self on all kinds of things, including trivial things. But I can't show it, so do I know it?

SpecialFrog wrote:However, the degree of certainly needed to accept a claim depends on the consequences of that acceptance. A friend would probably accept it and move along. An insurance company being asked to pay a claim on it would demand a higher degree of certainty.


Ok, so you aren't my friend, do you accept my claim?
Mon Nov 30, 2015 7:40 pm
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he_who_is_nobodyBloggerUser avatarPosts: 3243Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:36 amLocation: Albuquerque, New Mexico Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

I believe this is a perfect example of when we use Bayesian probability in our everyday lives. *SD*’s example of stubbing his toe meets such a high probability of being correct, that his testimony alone should suffice as evidence. Now, if Jason Burns told me he stubbed his toe while getting up in the morning, I would have my reasons to doubt that because Jason Burns has shown himself to be a pathological liar. However, again, stubbing one's toe is still a very likely thing to happen (I just did it this weekend at the hotel I was staying at). Thus, I might give Jason Burns the benefit of the doubt and accept his claim on his testimony alone. Now, Jason Burns tells me he was talking with Obama to rid the internet of atheist bullies, one has to take into account the probability of any one of those pieces being true. Jason Burns is a pathological liar; Obama has far more important things to deal with than talking to Jason Burns about atheists. That claim can be dismissed out of hand. Jason Burns would have to produce a lot of evidence for anyone to take that claim seriously (to overcome his status as a pathological liar and the fact that a world leader has better things to do than deal with atheist bullies online).

In my opinion, this is where the often-quoted statement of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” makes the most sense. Person X says he ate lunch with his brother yesterday. Not extraordinary, thus testimony is good enough for that claim. Now, Person Y’s brother was deployed in Iraq in August, thus, Person Y just saying he ate lunch with his brother is far more of an extraordinary claim. You would want more evidence for that claim than Person Y’s testimony, perhaps a photo with a timestamp or newspaper in it and several other people you trust telling you they saw Person Y’s brother as well. That should suffice for that extraordinary claim. Now, Person Z says he had lunch on a UFO with JFK. Person Z produces photos and several other people collaborate their story. Should you believe that? I would say no, because photos can be faked and people lie (even for jokes). Aliens visiting our planet needs far more evidence to collaborate than just photos or testimonials.

Bayesian probability is the light that I think AronRa’s phrase should be taken in. At least that is how I have always seen it.
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Mon Nov 30, 2015 7:46 pm
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*SD*User avatarPosts: 128Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

Laurens wrote:I don't think it is unreasonable to state that with regards to mundane claims there's no reason to reject them outright despite the lack of evidence. If there's no pressing reason to assume someone is lying or mistaken then it's not unreasonable to accept what they say.


I agree. But this isn't the issue I'm getting at. My claim being trivial and you having no particular reason to think I'm lying doesn't really matter. I can't show it, so do I know it?

Laurens wrote:Although strictly speaking they can't show it and therefore we can't know it.


Ah, it matters not whether YOU can know it, the question I'm asking here is can I know it? It appears that Aron thinks I can't.

Laurens wrote:I think it's pretty clear however that Aron is talking about extraordinary claims.


Do you? I don't. Especially when we consider the following quotes -

AronRa wrote:if you can't demonstrate your accuracy to any degree at all by any means whatsoever then you cannot actually know what you say you know.

AronRa wrote:Again, if you can't confirm it to any degree at all by any means whatsoever, then how would you know if you really know that?



Laurens wrote:Not "I had soup for dinner" but "I spoke to Jesus last night". I don't think it entails questioning everything everyone says to you. We need to operate under certain assumptions to function in society and one of these is to trust people when there is no reason not to. Clearly there is a reason (or two) not to trust someone if they say they met aliens in person...


I'm sure it doesn't entail questioning everything everyone says, I'm not assuming it does, but it seems like Aron wants to apply this standard to extraordinary claims whilst not actually restricting it to... extraordinary claims. Either it is restricted to extraordinary claims or it isn't, he's already stated (see above quotes) that it isn't. Had he have answered my opening question with anything along the lines of "ah yes but I'm only talking about extraordinary claims and not trivial shit" my objection would have, as I stated it would - gone away. But he didn't say that, he said that there should be some expectation that this is the case, whilst also stating that it didn't necessarily need to be the case, which is why I've brought trivial claims into it. He's also stated (again see quotes) that given that I can't demonstrate my accuracy to any degree by any means, which I've admitted I can't, that I should be questioning this. Am I the only one who sees my point? Maybe I am, but if that's the case I will have to draft my next reply very carefully as I'm kinda convinced I do actually have one. A point that is :)

*Edited to correct a typo.


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Mon Nov 30, 2015 7:59 pm
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SpecialFrogUser avatarPosts: 827Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:13 pmLocation: Great White North Gender: Tree

Post Re: A question to AronRa

*SD* wrote:
SpecialFrog wrote: Your having witnessed the toe stubbing is evidence of it occurring. Uncorroborated eye witness evidence is not great evidence but given that the claim has a low improbability, it is enough to accept it as more likely true than false.

I didn't only witness it, i experienced it. .

I was using "witness" to mean "observed with one or more senses". I should have called it "uncorroborated toe-witness evidence". :)

*SD* wrote:
SpecialFrog wrote:It is not enough to demonstrate it to be almost certainly true. Even you should not assume that it could not be false given the unreliability of memory and the fact that you had just woken up (in this example).

I don't make that assumption. I do however, feel it is unreasonable to expect me to question it to any meaningful degree. As I stated, I'd end up having to doubt my self on all kinds of things, including trivial things. But I can't show it, so do I know it?

You should doubt yourself to the degree that what you experience / remember is improbable.

If you see a dog crossing the street there probably is a dog crossing the street. Dogs exist. Dogs cross streets. Human eyes are generally okay at seeing things correctly.

If you see a triceratops crossing the street you should doubt yourself until you have some pretty strong corroboration.

*SD* wrote:
SpecialFrog wrote:However, the degree of certainly needed to accept a claim depends on the consequences of that acceptance. A friend would probably accept it and move along. An insurance company being asked to pay a claim on it would demand a higher degree of certainty.

Ok, so you aren't my friend, do you accept my claim?

Yes, I would accept it. At least tentatively. As I said, your claiming it happened to you sufficient evidence to overcome the low improbability of the claim.

i.e. most people who claim to have stubbed their toe actually did so therefore when someone claims this it is probably true.

*SD* wrote:I have already admitted this is a very trivial claim which is utterly unimportant in any way at all, but I don't see why it matters (that it's trivial) as Aron has stated that he isn't restricting the standard to claims which are important/significant/extraordinary etc

I don't think this is problematic so long as you recognize that the weight of evidence necessary to "demonstrate" a trivial claim might be quite low.

If you claimed that when you jumped in the air you came back down, not only would I believe you but I would require pretty significant evidence before even considering the possibility that your claim was false. Like a selfie from you aboard the ISS.
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Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:09 pm
*SD*User avatarPosts: 128Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

he_who_is_nobody wrote:*SD*’s example of stubbing his toe meets such a high probability of being correct, that his testimony alone should suffice as evidence.


Yes, it should but this isn't my point, my question isn't really whether you believe me or not, my question is do I KNOW this happened? You can believe me or not believe me, evidence or no evidence - do I KNOW it happened? Whether YOU believe me or not is not the issue.

he_who_is_nobody wrote:Now, Jason Burns tells me he was talking with Obama to rid the internet of atheist bullies, one has to take into account the probability of any one of those pieces being true


Well, he's spoken with Sam Harries about AronRa's dirty dirty dirty nasty nasty nasty tactics!! :D


he_who_is_nobody wrote:In my opinion, this is where the often-quoted statement of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” makes the most sense.


This I take no issue with, in fact I subscribe to it my self, but this is NOT what Aron is saying. To say that if you can't show it you don't know it is NOT the same as saying extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This is why I've always taken issue with it and why I've asked Aron to have a bit of a chat about it here as and when he has time.
Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:20 pm
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he_who_is_nobodyBloggerUser avatarPosts: 3243Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:36 amLocation: Albuquerque, New Mexico Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

*SD* wrote:
he_who_is_nobody wrote:*SD*’s example of stubbing his toe meets such a high probability of being correct, that his testimony alone should suffice as evidence.


Yes, it should but this isn't my point, my question isn't really whether you believe me or not, my question is do I KNOW this happened? You can believe me or not believe me, evidence or no evidence - do I KNOW it happened? Whether YOU believe me or not is not the issue.


Well, this will head down one of two ways, either a philosophical discussion of whether we could actually know anything or a semantics argument about what knowledge actually is. Let us hope it does not.

For such a trivial claim as to stubbing one’s toe, I would say that your testimony of it is as good as anyone will ever know that that event happened. I am sure if someone really cared, they could X-ray your toe and see micro-fractures and examine the desk you claim you bumped into and find wear on it (both being consistent with a toe-stubbing incident). Who would do this? However, for that reason, I do think you have a point as well, but only if AronRa does not accept trivial evidence for trivial claims. I would hope that is not what AronRa meant by his phrase, but I believe I see your point.
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Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:55 pm
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*SD*User avatarPosts: 128Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

Thanks :)

I'm finding the discussion quite interesting, I hope others are too. And thanks for kinda seeing things from where I'm coming from, I'm just glad I was able to get my point across to some extent. Go touch something in your house, maybe something like a curtain or a cushion, make sure no one sees you. Then tell me whether you KNOW that happened or not, whether you did that or not, never mind proving it to me or anyone else - do YOU know you touched that curtain? Should you say you KNOW you did? This was my point the whole time, I probably could have worded it a little better though :)
Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:09 pm
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LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2948Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post Re: A question to AronRa

*SD* wrote:
I agree. But this isn't the issue I'm getting at. My claim being trivial and you having no particular reason to think I'm lying doesn't really matter. I can't show it, so do I know it?


I think the same logic applies. We can't necessarily know anything with certainty, but we operate under assumptions. For example, the dinner I just ate may have been a vivid hallucinatory experience, but I'd say it is unlikely. For starters I am not in any state that is conducive to hallucination such as sensory/sleep deprivation, nor have I taken hallucinogenic drugs. I have not been diagnosed with any mental disorders that are characterized by hallucination.

Furthermore, the experience itself did not feel hallucinatory. There was no abstractness to it, nor was it inconsistent. If I wanted to take it further and analyse the contents of my stomach to see if what I thought I ate was there I could. None of these factors could mean I know for sure that I just ate dinner, for all I know my entire life is a complex hallucination. However it gives me good enough reasons to suppose that it actually happened.

In order to function we make assumptions every instance of our lives. Most of them hold up enough to say within the confines of certain presumptions our experience of day t day reality is reliable.

Of course it would be a different matter if something extraordinary happened to me, but we are talking about mundane things.

Ah, it matters not whether YOU can know it, the question I'm asking here is can I know it? It appears that Aron thinks I can't.


You can say that granting a certain set of assumptions (such as the external world is real etc.) and with a certain degree of probability given those assumptions what happened to you, unless extremely improbable did happen.

I'm sure it doesn't entail questioning everything everyone says, I'm not assuming it does, but it seems like Aron wants to apply this standard to extraordinary claims whilst not actually restricting it to... extraordinary claims. Either it is restricted to extraordinary claims or it isn't, he's already stated (see above quotes) that it isn't. Had he have answered my opening question with anything along the lines of "ah yes but I'm only talking about extraordinary claims and not trivial shit" my objection would have, as I stated it would - gone away. But he didn't say that, he said that there should be some expectation that this is the case, whilst also stating that it didn't necessarily need to be the case, which is why I've brought trivial claims into it. He's also stated (again see quotes) that given that I can't demonstrate my accuracy to any degree by any means, which I've admitted I can't, that I should be questioning this. Am I the only one who sees my point? Maybe I am, but if that's the case I will have to draft my next reply very carefully as I'm kinda convinced I do actually have one. A point that is :)

*Edited to correct a typo.


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I'm a bit confused.

Are you agreeing or disagreeing with the idea that we can't know anything for certain, but within a certain set of assumptions and given a certain probability within those assumptions we can say we know some things?

If I assume that the external world is real, that the past happened, that I am not prone to detailed specific and mundane hallucinations about things that happen to me and everyone else all the time, then I can say with a pretty high degree of certainty that I just ate dinner. If, as I do, you believe that I have no reason to deny these assumptions then we can say that within certain parameters I know I just ate dinner. Just like if we assume the external world is real, that the past happened and that a vastly improbable hoax or coincidence did not happen, and we are not prone to have collective hallucinations of a vast body of corroborative evidence we can say we know evolution occurred. Of course someone could challenge those assumptions but if we all agree on them there is no real need to.

However if it came to me claiming I can walk on water. And we grant a similar set of assumptions we don't immediately get to this claim being true, because we know (given some of the assumptions I mentioned) from experience that we cannot walk on water, we know from looking at other people that it doesn't happen. We know why it doesn't happen through looking at the science. Therefore it requires additional unfounded and unreasonable assumptions in order to say that it is true. Therefore we can't show it and we don't know it. No unreasonable assumptions have to be made in order that I know I just ate dinner.
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Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:34 pm
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