Evidence and Argumentation

This post is specifically about a language claim, but it applies more strongly in politics and is common to argumentation online and off. I have mentioned before the problem of believing things without evidence, but you should also be aware that you may be dismissing obvious counter-evidence because it inconveniently disproves something you wish to be true. Insert here why your game is already awesome because it will be awesome, its present state be damned.

It is vitally important that you want the truth more than you want any particular claim to be true. Once you are willing to sacrifice truth in favor of some claim, that hole has no bottom.

: Zubon

4 thoughts on “Evidence and Argumentation”

  1. I would say that the first reference is more about some select linguists driving each other insane, assuming that wasn’t the state they began in.

    In some ways, the most pertinent part was the off-hand remark about Quantum Mechanics.

    If I pass by a fence that is being painted on my way home, it is very likely I will think of it as having been painted by the time I go to sleep. Its actual state is unknown to me, but my subconscious has come to a natural conclusion from past experience. What I observe to be in progress is likely to come true. In some respects, my observations themselves become false, although it’s also possible that my future perception could be proved false as well.

    If I say to my girlfriend the next morning that they’ve painted the fence down the road and she replies “No I saw it last night and they hadn’t finished painting it yet”. Who is more correct on the whole?

    Sometimes, being technically correct is worth nothing more than pride. Truth on the current state is deprecated truth.

    I recommend spending some time down the rabbit hole, it’s an eye-opener.

  2. But MY claims are ALWAYS true, thus “I” never come to a point where that particular sacrifice presents itself. ;)

    Seriously, I’d say in relation to points concerning the miracle patch and “most awesome game” posts… subjective matters are poorly, and more importantly, incompletely judged by objective measures.

    Interesting discussion, but it seems mostly an issue of most people’s inability to argue effectively versus their desire to win an argument.

  3. Bhagpuss mounts a solid defence of wishful thinking, which I think mostly holds among the general population. The pervasive phenomenon of confirmation bias backs up his point that most people value reduced cognitive dissonance over truth.

    (On a somewhat related side note, a part of my research in moral psychology and philosophy suggests that while philosophers have long assumed moral pronouncements – i.e. ‘stealing is wrong’ – are ‘truth-apt’, thus able to be proven true or false, in fact the way we use such pronouncements are pragmatic. They’re more about being useful at altering behaviour than demonstrating some fact about the world, and their usefulness is actually quite unrelated to them being true. A kind of wishful thinking writ large.)

    However, I’m broadly on Zubon’s side. For me, truth is more important than wishful thinking. But I know I’m an anomaly. This attitude is probably why I’m studying philosophy. For example, I happen to believe free will doesn’t exist. For me, the evidence against it is persuasive, and no matter how much I’d like to believe in free will, or how intuitive it seems, I feel as though I must reject it.

    And I know from experience teaching philosophy and running philosophy discussion groups that many (most?) people aren’t like this. They grip on to their beliefs like Moff Tarkin, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Although, strangely, many people seem more moved by solid empirical rather than sound logical arguments. Not sure what to make of that…

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