Proportionality of Evidence

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Reply Wed 11 Jun, 2008 11:11 am
Carl Sagan has been quoted to say, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Generalizing this idea, I think it's widely accepted that the rigor or extent of evidence should be proportional to the extraordinariness of the claim it supports. What are the problems with this notion?

Thanks,
Jordan
 
Nocturne
 
Reply Wed 11 Jun, 2008 01:03 pm
@jposamen,
jposamen;15691 wrote:
Carl Sagan has been quoted to say, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Generalizing this idea, I think it's widely accepted that the rigor or extent of evidence should be proportional to the extraordinariness of the claim it supports. What are the problems with this notion?
The degree to which a claim is extraordinary depends on background knowledge. Therefore, what is an extraordinary claim for Carl Sagan may be an ordinary claim for someone else. For example, if you believe that the content of The Bible is true then the resurrection of the dead may not seem so extraordinary to you as it would to Carl Sagan, or if you lived in the 15th Century Columbus' claim that the earth was spherical may have been extraordinary, but today the same claim is anything but extraordinary. In other words, if a claim contradicts a great deal of your background knowledge then it is extraordinary, and if it is consistent with your background knowledge then it is ordinary, so extraordinariness is a function of what you already believe, not an impartial quality of a claim.
 
jposamen
 
Reply Wed 11 Jun, 2008 01:08 pm
@Nocturne,
I agree, Nocturne. There's a relativity of extraordinariness based on personal context. But does the claim still hold? Given that X is extraordinary for a person whom we're seeking to convince of X, should the extent of evidence to support X be proportional to X's extraordinariness?

Thanks,
Jordan
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 11 Jun, 2008 05:18 pm
@jposamen,
Hello All!!

I believe it is extreme to believe that something has occured which violates the natural laws, phyical laws. There has never been a documented case of the dead arising, the sun being brought to a stand still ect.., there is an element of fantasy which cannot be taken seriously if you have any intellectual integrity whatsoever, sometimes the clowns red nose needs to be checked to see if its really real.Wink is it really red or is it really a nose. According to revelations 9495593 it is god's nose--you can take that to the bank!!:rolleyes:
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 11 Jun, 2008 05:30 pm
@boagie,
What this boils down to is what makes a claim extraordinary.

An ORDINARY claim doesn't need a lot of evidence, because it already conforms to evidence that is consistent with our everyday experience. So if I say "I let go of a rock and it fell to the ground," that really doesn't require special evidence. I mean so what, everything else we drops falls to the ground.

An EXTRAORDINARY claim lacks this connection with our everyday experiences. Thus, we're entitled to a lot of skepticism. So if I say "I let go of a rock and it transformed into a white dove and flew away," then that DOES require more evidence than the first claim.
 
Nocturne
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 01:00 pm
@jposamen,
jposemen,

I think that you are correct to interpret Carl Sagan's comment that 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence' as proposal for the adoption of a convention i.e. an ethical proposal. It is quite clear that someone can make a claim and believe it without any evidence whatever, and even despite contradictory evidence. Moreover, it is quite clear that the presence or absence of evidence does not make a claim true or false, since a true statement is true regardless of what evidence we have accumulated i.e. the truth or falsity of a claim is an objective property which stands independent of anything we do.

Therefore, I think the claim is best read as the ethical proposal that we ought not to believe a claim which seems to us to be extraordinary unless we have some extraordinary evidence to justify that belief. I, for one, do not agree with this proposal. I am primarily concerned with whether the claims which people make are true or false, and not whether they ought to believe them or not. In fact, I am somewhat disgusted with those who seem to be inappropriately concerned with what others are permitted to believe according to the evidence, and I find it a distraction from the far more interesting issue of whether the claims being made are true or false.
 
boagie
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 01:19 pm
@Nocturne,
Nocturne,

:)As a society we had better be concern what our fellow citizens believe, it would be socially irresponsiable not to care if they believe in the end times and you are at war.

"The truth or falsity of a claim is an objective property which stands independent of anything we do." quote

:)Truth is not an objective property, if so truth would belong to object, it does not, truth is the property of a subject, and is discerned by a subject about the relation between itself and object. As all meaning is the property of a subject, truth as a meaning, belongs to a subject.
 
Nocturne
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 01:26 pm
@boagie,
boagie,

If the Bible is true then there has been a documented case of the dead arising and the sun being brought to a halt, and these events must therefore happen in occurence with natural laws. In other words, to believe in such occurences is extreme only because you do not already agree that such occurences could occur, and even state that they violate natural laws. The issue at hand in such a disagreement is the universe and the laws which govern it, and so your objection simply rests on the assumption that the other claim is false. If the universe does not operate as you think then these events might not seem to be so extreme, and it might be you who is in the wrong.
 
boagie
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 01:35 pm
@Nocturne,
Nocturne,Smile

Yes, if my reason and my senses were totally unreliable and proven as such, I would have to consider a chocolate universe, or any other absurdity that could be imagined.
 
Nocturne
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 02:39 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes,

You state that 'an ordinary claim does not need a lot of evidence because it already consistent with the evidence'. However, so long as an extraordinary claim does not contradict the evidence then it must also be consistent with the evidence, and so any evidence which supports an ordinary claim must also support an extraordinary claim (assuming that evidental support is had only by its consistency with a claim).
 
Nocturne
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 03:20 pm
@boagie,
boagie,

It is not required that your reason and senses are 'totally unreliable', only that they are not totally reliable, and neither is it necessary for them to be proven to be unreliable; besides, any such "proof" would be unreliable. I do not expect that you believe that your reason and senses are totally reliable, and since you understand what it would mean to change your mind on these matters, it is clear that you are not incapable of learning from your errors.
 
Nocturne
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 03:38 pm
@boagie,
boagie,

1. I am concerned with what other people believe to some extent. However, I am not concerned with ethical views which attempt to dictate what other people ought to believe, especially when there is no mention that such a belief is false.

2. The truth-value of a statement is an objective property of a statement i.e. a statement either corresponds to the facts or it does not correspond to the facts. The subjective evaluation of a statement as true or false may be mistaken, and does not determine the actual truth-value of the statement i.e. the truth-value of a statement is 'objective' because its value is what it is irrespective of what anyone thinks about it. I think, perhaps, you meant the term 'objective' to mean something different.
 
boagie
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 04:59 pm
@Nocturne,
Nocturne;

1." I am concerned with what other people believe to some extent. However, I am not concerned with ethical views which attempt to dictate what other people ought to believe, especially when there is no mention that such a belief is false." quote

:)Reguardless, you have examples of it in the fact that, it is illegal in all but one state for an atheist to hold public office in the United States. So, society at large is interested in what its subjects then believe, and it is prepared to use coercion to inforce a belief they cannot prove.

2. "The truth-value of a statement is an objective property of a statement i.e. a statement either corresponds to the facts or it does not correspond to the facts. The subjective evaluation of a statement as true or false may be mistaken, and does not determine the actual truth-value of the statement i.e. the truth-value of a statement is 'objective' because its value is what it is irrespective of what anyone thinks about it. I think, perhaps, you meant the term 'objective' to mean something different."[/quote]

:)The truth-value of an object is descerned by a subject. When this truth is relayed to another it is taken tentively as a truth, this is truth value only when the subject is once removed from the experience itself. This then is the truth value of a statement, it is not experience itself, it is presented as truth, the only way to be sure that it is true, is to experience it yourself. No one stated that reason was infallible, just that it is the best we have to work with. Yes, the subjects experience of the object DOES determine the truth of any statement, the normal most accurate order would be the experience of the object, then statement.


"The subjective evaluation of a statement as true or false may be mistaken, and does not determine the actual truth-value of the statement i.e. the truth-value of a statement is 'objective' because its value is what it is irrespective of what anyone thinks about it."quote

SmileI think I covered this somewhat in the above, but, yes, the subjective evaluation does determine what is truth, truth is the statement about the relation of the subject to the object, it is, this rock is hot, to me, yes this rock is hot. You say, "the truth value, is objective because its value is what it is irrespective of what anyone thinks about it." No, truth is a term with a meaning, objects do not have meaning, only a living subject/consciousness has the property of meaning, thus, truth is the property of a subject. All meaning is a relation between object and subject or in other words, meaning/truth is biologically determined.
 
 

 
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