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Author Topic:   Facts are Overrated
NoNukes
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 16 of 61 (784393)
05-17-2016 10:10 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Blue Jay
05-17-2016 1:12 PM


Based on this information, it's easy to conclude that the science I do is pretty much useless, because my efforts to communicate it with the end users does not result in internalization or improvement of the ways things operate.

It is sad. But you should take comfort in the fact that some people will get it. It may be difficult to move all of us, but that does not mean that progress is impossible. It just means that the dynamic of implementing change involves inertia. Fortunately that can also mean that once you've built up momentum, it is just as difficult to distract people from the truth as it is to convince them.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Blue Jay, posted 05-17-2016 1:12 PM Blue Jay has not yet responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 17750
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 17 of 61 (784425)
05-18-2016 8:26 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by NoNukes
05-17-2016 4:36 PM


I disagree with the idea that the facts did not matter or barely mattered.

The thread's premise isn't saying that facts don't matter or barely matter. It's saying that facts don't matter or barely matter in changing minds, and in fact can work in the opposite direction, especially for those with the least knowledge.

I was only suggesting a look at the Civil War through the lens of that premise. Given the strength of the facts on the North's side one could reasonably have expected a process of gradual persuasion and accommodation, but it didn't happen. Instead both sides became more tenacious and uncompromising.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by NoNukes, posted 05-17-2016 4:36 PM NoNukes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by NoNukes, posted 05-18-2016 6:27 PM Percy has responded

    
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3456
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006


Message 18 of 61 (784436)
05-18-2016 9:25 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Blue Jay
05-17-2016 1:12 PM


Based on this information, it's easy to conclude that the science I do is pretty much useless, because my efforts to communicate it with the end users does not result in internalization or improvement of the ways things operate.

Oh, Blue Jay, don't feel so down. We, here, still love you.

These studies only apply to people, albeit a lot of them a lot of the time, with deeply held beliefs on a specific subject where the facts conflict with those beliefs cascading an emotion-laden cognitive dissonance. The unfortunate part of this process is that when it happens a lot of people have the tendency to double down on their deeply held belief rather than reflect on what those facts mean.

It's not like everyone does it in all instances.

Your facts can change minds, Blue Jay. Maybe not for all people at all times, but, hopefully, for enough people a good number of times. Your science is not useless. There are people you can still inform for the better and there are coming generations that need your data.

So, back to the lab with a spring in your step and a song in your heart. Maybe "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida".

Edited by AZPaul3, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Blue Jay, posted 05-17-2016 1:12 PM Blue Jay has not yet responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 624 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 19 of 61 (784451)
05-18-2016 11:23 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Coyote
05-16-2016 10:17 PM


Re: Heinlein, on facts
Sometimes I think Coyote is actually a reincarnated Robert Heinlein.

-Blue Jay, Ph.D.*

*Yeah, it's real

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Coyote, posted 05-16-2016 10:17 PM Coyote has acknowledged this reply

  
subbie
Member
Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 20 of 61 (784476)
05-18-2016 4:25 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Coyote
05-16-2016 10:17 PM


Re: Heinlein, on facts
Heinlein also writes:

Piling up facts is not science--science is facts-and-theories. Facts alone have limited use and lack meaning; a valid theory organizes them into far greater usefulness. ... A powerful theory not only embraces old facts and new but also discloses unsuspected facts.

It's easy to downplay the importance of facts when the vast majority of people base their conclusions about facts on actual, real world evidence. However, when a not inconsequential number of people are unable to accurately perceive reality or come to accurate conclusions about facts, it's impossible to overstate the importance of facts.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

Howling about evidence is a conversation stopper, and it never stops to think if the claim could possibly be true -- foreveryoung


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Coyote, posted 05-16-2016 10:17 PM Coyote has acknowledged this reply

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


(2)
Message 21 of 61 (784486)
05-18-2016 6:27 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by Percy
05-18-2016 8:26 AM


I was only suggesting a look at the Civil War through the lens of that premise.

Understood.

I am suggesting that such a look does not produce a worthwhile result. Firstly because it does not reflect what actually happened, and secondly because I don't feel we should give people a free pass for dismissing the facts when making decisions. It has been pointed out that people often do behave in that way. I accept that premise. It does not follow that people who ignore the facts are blameless or that their resulting actions are forgiveable on that basis. The facts should matter.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by Percy, posted 05-18-2016 8:26 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by Percy, posted 05-20-2016 8:13 AM NoNukes has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 17750
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 22 of 61 (784613)
05-20-2016 8:13 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by NoNukes
05-18-2016 6:27 PM


NoNukes writes:

I am suggesting that such a look does not produce a worthwhile result. Firstly because it does not reflect what actually happened,...

I believe it does produce a very worthwhile result, and it *is* what happened.

... and secondly because I don't feel we should give people a free pass for dismissing the facts when making decisions. It does not follow that people who ignore the facts are blameless or that their resulting actions are forgiveable on that basis.

This seems to be emphasizing a different context about which we likely agree. If someone decides to commit murder after being raised in a culture where murder is the ultimate crime then of course they aren't blameless.

But what of people who merely believe what everyone else around them believes? If most people born and raised in the same circumstances would behave the same way (including us), what is the blame for? For sharing the same beliefs as everyone around them? For being born in the wrong time and place?

There are special people able to rise above their circumstances, but it is no one's fault that most people lack these special qualities. If we blamed people for lacking special qualities then we may as well blame them for not being able to play a piano sonata or dunk a basketball.

What is the worthwhile result? There are at least couple I can think of. One is that there are sociological forces at work that must be acknowledged, studied, understood. Another is a spiritual view that we are all God's children deserving of understanding and forgiveness.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by NoNukes, posted 05-18-2016 6:27 PM NoNukes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by NoNukes, posted 05-20-2016 2:27 PM Percy has responded

    
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 23 of 61 (784638)
05-20-2016 2:27 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by Percy
05-20-2016 8:13 AM


I believe it does produce a very worthwhile result, and it *is* what happened.

Then we know exactly where are point of disagreement exists. I've explained my position and I've indicated the facts that I believe really drove the two sides during the civil war. I'm not sure what you belief is based on. But ultimately, not being convinced by the evidence, however popular that might be, is not something that we need to accept as just what humans do. Because not all of us do that.

But what of people who merely believe what everyone else around them believes?

If what they believe is evil, and there are facts available to them showing exactly that, which is the premise you have invoked here, then they are responsible for their beliefs and they've earned the judgment according to those facts.

You seem to think you've defined some aspect of human nature that people are powerless to deal with. I don't buy that at all.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by Percy, posted 05-20-2016 8:13 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by Percy, posted 05-20-2016 4:33 PM NoNukes has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 17750
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 24 of 61 (784642)
05-20-2016 4:33 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by NoNukes
05-20-2016 2:27 PM


NoNukes writes:

But ultimately, not being convinced by the evidence, however popular that might be, is not something that we need to accept as just what humans do. Because not all of us do that.

But all of us *do* "do that." It's part of being human. Some of us are better at separating the wheat from the chaff when choosing our evidence, and some of us are better at incorporating valid evidence into our opinions, but none of us are objectivity machines processing evidence into correct conclusions. Plus evidence is often incomplete and/or inconclusive.

But what of people who merely believe what everyone else around them believes?

If what they believe is evil, and there are facts available to them showing exactly that, which is the premise you have invoked here,...

That's not a premise I ever invoked, and I would argue against it. Northerners and Southerners likely strongly disagreed about the facts and what they implied.

You seem to think you've defined some aspect of human nature that people are powerless to deal with. I don't buy that at all.

I don't think I've said anything about human nature that anyone would find surprising. People hold opinions that reflect the time and place where they live.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 23 by NoNukes, posted 05-20-2016 2:27 PM NoNukes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by NoNukes, posted 05-20-2016 6:07 PM Percy has responded

    
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 25 of 61 (784644)
05-20-2016 6:07 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by Percy
05-20-2016 4:33 PM


But all of us *do* "do that." It's part of being human. Some of us are better at separating the wheat from the chaff when choosing our evidence

Sure, and if your thought processes fail to allow you to discriminate between good and evil then you might end up on the wrong side of history. In my view, that is rightly so.

That's not a premise I ever invoked, and I would argue against it. Northerners and Southerners likely strongly disagreed about the facts and what they implied.

I'll admit to some confusion about exactly what your argument in this thread is. I've listed facts that I believe drove the two sides and their implications for the two sides. I did not note any rebuttal on your part. Nor do I see any suggestion of what facts and implications the two sides disagreed on, so I cannot even try to address that question. Maybe you will fill me in.

But beyond that, your premise is that the facts have no power to convince. Does not applying that principle mean that some facts that should have led to a correct decision actually were available and that one side or the other acted despite those facts? If not, then how is your principle even applicable? Are you actually defending something entirely, namely being wrong out of ignorance?

It seems to me that you are asking me to accept not being convinced by facts as some kind of cover for what I consider evil behavior because we all have some tendency not to be persuaded by facts. I disagree with that completely. And the idea that people should be excused for just believing the same things as the people around them, despite the fact that the facts were available is also not something with which I am going to agree.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by Percy, posted 05-20-2016 4:33 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 26 by Percy, posted 05-20-2016 7:10 PM NoNukes has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 17750
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 26 of 61 (784647)
05-20-2016 7:10 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by NoNukes
05-20-2016 6:07 PM


NoNukes writes:

Sure, and if your thought processes fail to allow you to discriminate between good and evil then you might end up on the wrong side of history.

By the standards of today most of history is on the "wrong side of history." To me it makes more sense to make moral judgments about a time and place in history in its own context rather than by the standards of today.

I'll admit to some confusion about exactly what your argument in this thread is. I've listed facts that I believe drove the two sides and their implications for the two sides. I did not note any rebuttal on your part.

Well, yes, I read your posts, but in using the Civil War as an example I wasn't trying to make it the topic. You can believe the South was evil if you like, but while I don't share that belief I didn't want to rebut it and turn what was just an example into the main topic of discussion.

But beyond that, your premise is that the facts have no power to convince.

No, that wasn't my premise. Quoting again from the Globe piece I cited in Message 1, "Facts donít necessarily have the power to change our minds." I cited the creation/evolution debate as an example. Later I argued that being right could be accidental (using the North and South in the Civil War as an example), more a product of environment, of time and place in history, than of facts. (I understand that you disagree about the Civil War example, that you believe the South evil and that facts showing them evil were readily available to them.)

It seems to me that you are asking me to accept not being convinced by facts as some kind of cover for what I consider evil behavior because we all have some tendency not to be persuaded by facts. I disagree with that completely.

Okay. Quoting from the Globe piece again that was the reason for this thread: "Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. Itís this: Facts donít necessarily have the power to change our minds." Why are they wrong?

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by NoNukes, posted 05-20-2016 6:07 PM NoNukes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by NoNukes, posted 05-20-2016 8:37 PM Percy has responded

    
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 27 of 61 (784651)
05-20-2016 8:37 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by Percy
05-20-2016 7:10 PM


Okay. Quoting from the Globe piece again that was the reason for this thread: "Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. Itís this: Facts donít necessarily have the power to change our minds." Why are they wrong?

They are not wrong. Unlike you, they don't generalize from the premise that facts don't necessarily have the power to change our minds to the point of making that a principle on which to accept fighting for reprehensible ideas.

And they don't go further to indicate that people who do accept the facts and are persuaded to act accordingly deserve no credit. In short, the article does not justify this:

Percy writes:


In that case neither can take credit for being right or blame for being wrong

Seriously. No credit for accepting the facts and being right?

The article's premise provides a basis to explain behavior. But not a basis to accept such behavior and certainly no basis on which not to elevate those who are absolutely right.

Later I argued that being right could be accidental

What I read was you simply proposing ("if") that being right could be merely accidental without backing that up, and then proceeding from there to some conclusions that I do not accept. The article does not support that proposal, and the proposal results in some pretty silly maybes. I should accept that William Lloyd Garrison was accidentally right about the evils of slavery? Or that Frederick Douglas was accidentally right? That neither is worth celebrating beyond pointing out that they were lucky to be on the right side? Is that really your position?

Edited by NoNukes, : change wording, insert accidental.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by Percy, posted 05-20-2016 7:10 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 28 by Percy, posted 05-20-2016 10:07 PM NoNukes has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 17750
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 28 of 61 (784655)
05-20-2016 10:07 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by NoNukes
05-20-2016 8:37 PM


NoNukes writes:

They are not wrong. Unlike you, they don't generalize from the premise that facts don't necessarily have the power to change our minds to the point of making that a principle on which to accept fighting for reprehensible ideas.

No, this wouldn't be correct. I pretty much agree with the article, but I did raise a speculative question, and the speculative nature of my question shouldn't be forgotten. As originally phrased in Message 5:

me in Message 5 writes:

But given the power of "confirmation bias" or "motivated reasoning" or whatever we want to call it, I wonder how well it could be argued that being right is almost accidental, at least for your average person. It might help explain the fits and starts and advances and regresses of human progress.

When you thought I was saying something different I said it another way in Message 10:

me in Message 10 writes:

Expressing what I said differently, if facts barely matter and being right is accidental then the positions of the North and South on slavery likely had little to do with facts. In that case neither can take credit for being right or blame for being wrong.

And you pretty much seemed to understand I was speculating when you acknowledged here that I said "if":

What I read was you simply proposing ("if") that being right could be merely accidental without backing that up,...

The posts I was resisting answering seemed to trying to begin a discussion about the Civil War, but if there's something more on topic you'd like me to back up then I'd be happy to answer any questions.

...and then proceeding from there to some conclusions that I do not accept.

I don't think that posing a speculative question implies any conclusions, but it does seem an interesting possibility that the relationship between facts and being right is a lot more tenuous than is commonly thought. We on the evolution side may believe we were convinced by the facts, but if we'd been born into a different religion or part of the country maybe we'd accept creationism and believe we were convinced by the facts. Same person, same confidence that the facts led us to our beliefs, but different and opposing beliefs.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by NoNukes, posted 05-20-2016 8:37 PM NoNukes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by NoNukes, posted 05-21-2016 12:15 AM Percy has acknowledged this reply
 Message 30 by NoNukes, posted 05-21-2016 12:51 AM Percy has responded
 Message 31 by xongsmith, posted 05-21-2016 12:53 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

    
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 29 of 61 (784658)
05-21-2016 12:15 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by Percy
05-20-2016 10:07 PM


I don't think that posing a speculative question implies any conclusions

Fair enough. I have provided my answer to your speculation as well as a couple of reasons why I think your speculative proposition ought to be rejected. Your reasoning leads to some fairly difficult to swallow (for me at least) consequences. Perhaps those are sufficient to convince you to rethink your position, and perhaps they were not. Surely my response is sufficient to show why I disagree.
ABE:

Ultimately I think these kind of gymnastics are not required anymore. It was important to the country that the North find some way to forgive their opponent in the civil war. They managed to do so. It is less important today that we do so and no reason for us to to it by resurrecting Lost Cause type excuses or manufacturing ways that they were wrong only by accident. You have claimed that we must have memorials to Southern heroes in order to make sure we do not repeat their mistakes. I don't see how minimizing the abhorrence of their cause helps accomplish that goal. In fact, calling that type of reasoning PC sounds entirely appropriate.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by Percy, posted 05-20-2016 10:07 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 30 of 61 (784660)
05-21-2016 12:51 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by Percy
05-20-2016 10:07 PM


We on the evolution side may believe we were convinced by the facts, but if we'd been born into a different religion or part of the country maybe we'd accept creationism and believe we were convinced by the facts.

And we'd rightly be criticized for holding such beliefs. But I suspect such criticism would not rise to the level of finger pointing and disgust that we might level at a man for defending the right to own another person or his state's right to allow such a thing or the countries obligation to return his slave to him if the slave managed to escape to a free state.

Perhaps the Salem witch trials present a better example? Do you think the principle that 'facts may not have the power to convince' is sufficient reason for us to give those old Massachusetts residents a pass? Is it even necessary for us to do that? None of those folks are even around any more, but maybe in the spirit of forgiveness we should name one of the law school buildings on some Mass. campus the John Hathorne champion for Justice Building.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams


This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by Percy, posted 05-20-2016 10:07 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 32 by Percy, posted 05-21-2016 2:08 PM NoNukes has responded

  
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