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#21 CTD

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 06:34 PM

Holy cow. What's that, a... sextuple post in response to mine? That's gotta be a record of some kind. At any rate:

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If a post has too many quote boxes, they don't work. I like mine to work.

#22 CTD

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 07:01 PM

2. There isn't much to be lost by thinking the statement is true when it's not true. In slightly more detail, the amount of effort one should spend verifying a statement is inversely proportional to the importance of the conclusions one will draw from the truth or falsehood of said statement.

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Would it really sound all that much less impressive without the word 'inversely'?

#23 Master Buffalax

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 07:05 PM

Ah, so THAT'S why my quotes went all screwy. I'll keep that in mind in the future.

Would it really sound all that much less impressive without the word 'inversely'?

Whoops, I got that backwards. I should have said "The amount of effort one should spend verifying a statement is proportional to the importance of the conclusions one will draw from the truth or falsehood of said statement." Good catch.

#24 CTD

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 07:35 PM

Lyell: the Past is the Key to the Present

No one has a problem understanding that unless a Creationist mentions it?

Lyell even rejected the historical account of Noahs flood by making that conclusion.

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I always thought he said it the other way around. It pays to distrust one's memory. Googling for quick results, I find results that indicate both ways

"The present is the key to the past"
and
"The past is the key to the present"

Haven't tracked both down conclusively. Can't say it's worth the effort.

#25 Master Buffalax

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 12:13 PM

The central point of my last post got a bit lost in the details, and the poor quote formatting didn't help. I'm going to reiterate the key theme, because I think it's worth discussing.

CTD said he agrees, and no one else has contested, that we need to independently confirm the truth of a given text before we can accept what it says at face value, at least when the conclusions we might draw from the text are important ones. I think the best way to go about doing this is:

1. Compare any claims the text makes, explicitly or implicitly, with what we actually see in the world.
2. If that doesn't work (maybe if the text only makes claims about the past and not the present), compare the claims in the text with those made by other sources, keeping in mind what personal motivations or misinformation might have led to any discrepancies between the two.
3. If neither of the previous two methods were conclusive, accept the text as provisionally true until better evidence becomes available.

Do people find this method agreeable?

#26 CTD

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 03:53 PM

CTD said he agrees, and no one else has contested, that we need to independently confirm the truth of a given text before we can accept what it says at face value, at least when the conclusions we might draw from the text are important ones. I think the best way to go about doing this is:

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Your history is inaccurate. I have not said I agree. And I would not agree to this because it does not properly take into account the default status of 'true', which applies in cases where we cannot verify an account. We play the odds, and since most statements are true, we accept the account as probably true. This is not a firm conclusion; it is subject to being revised as evidence becomes available.

Now I'm not just making this up, people. This is exactly what everyone does all the time in everyday life. In fact, people are generally sloppy about verification and reconciliation, and if you doubt this you only need to look at the support politicians receive.

But even those who try to question everything must rely upon the words of other people, not infrequently total strangers. In cases where things aren't verified, and there is no reason to doubt, the word of the stranger is accepted as probably true.

Note that I haven't mentioned reconciliation yet. Resisting reconciliation can itself be a valid cause to doubt a story. One needs to evaluate such situations with thought, rather than simply believing the past will magically align with one's preference. Don't dismiss newly discovered accounts in favour of familiar accounts merely on the basis that one was discovered before the other.

Simply paying a little attention to everyday life will show that you already practice pretty sound historical methodology. If you're at work and a stranger comes up and says "The people in the office want you to call home. Your daughter got hurt at school." How do you proceed? You commence reconciling immediately. Do you have a daughter? Is she in school today? And verifying will start right away too, if the story reconciles. You may even assess motives, depending on your job. If you're a security officer, it could be an attempt to get you to leave the area, right?

Now then. The thought process that's good enough for everyday life, the same process which you use to determine how you spend your time and money, should be good enough for ancient history as well as recent, unless you're a jerk or something.

Skills can always stand sharpening, and there are tricks-of-the-trade. For example, I learned early on to skip headlines & front pages, and go directly to the editorial section of the newspaper. When people are arguing in that format, their bias is a given. They have to employ sound reasoning and submit facts if they want to succeed. The "straight news" reporters are every bit as biased, you'll soon find, and they tend to be selective about the facts they disclose, to the extent they can get away with it. I often saw back 'n' forth editorials with both sides acknowledging important facts that weren't to be found in front page stories.

Anyhow, the default status of truth does not remove the need to verify. For those who might not be keeping up so well, we differ in that MB requires verification prior to acceptance. Nobody applies this standard in everyday life, and he has come around to only applying it to "important" things. I maintain when things are important, one should go with the best evidence one has available. If the best evidence isn't as good as you'd like, that still doesn't render it nonexistent.

That's enough, I expect.

#27 Master Buffalax

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 05:39 PM

Thank you, CTD. That's the sort of definition I've been asking for. At this point, I think we're in agreement that for the vast majority of situations, one should look for external verification of any given account, up to the point where such verification isn't available or the effort isn't worth it any more. I have just one question of clarification: you insist that you disagree with me because I don't acknowledge the default status of a given story as "true". Does this default status give the account any extra value when it comes into conflict with other, competing possibilities, or it it more of a "may as well believe something if a more sensible option isn't forthcoming" sort of thing? If it's just the latter, I don't think I disagree with you.

#28 CTD

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 09:55 PM

Thank you, CTD. That's the sort of definition I've been asking for. At this point, I think we're in agreement that for the vast majority of situations, one should look for external verification of any given account, up to the point where such verification isn't available or the effort isn't worth it any more.

I believe everyone is in agreement with me, in matters of day-to-day life. There aren't a lot of practical alternatives, and people learn how to competently perform all classes of scientific inquiry at an amazingly early age. Gross procedural error must be introduced; if it is to be acquired. Children do not independently invent it.

I have just one question of clarification: you insist that you disagree with me because I don't acknowledge the default status of a given story as "true". Does this default status give the account any extra value when it comes into conflict with other, competing possibilities, or it it more of a "may as well believe something if a more sensible option isn't forthcoming" sort of thing? If it's just the latter, I don't think I disagree with you.

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When difficulty arises in the reconciliation process, what do we do in everyday life? We should do the same with history. Perhaps I should say "what does a child do?" Adults may have been conditioned to employ unwarranted presuppositions.

When we have two or more accounts of an event, we can compare several things. We can compare the accounts themselves, the process by which the accounts came to us, the motives and competence of the sources and the entities along the chain-of-custody. In theory, a tie is possible. In reality, so long as the score is fairly close, people go with what they prefer to believe much of the time.

The gut shouldn't be ignored in such matters. It's a pretty good guide, and those who have not practiced tackling the problem quite a bit may have a lot of trouble putting into words the reasoning behind their conclusion. It's like "showing your work" in math, but it goes a little deeper. The gut works quickly, and takes many things into account. The mind can't always keep up. The mind is inattentive, and can easily overlook internal conflict, motive, and other issues.

There are all sorts of things we can use to verify and reconcile. Many accounts are not first-hand. If we catch conflicting accounts downstream, we should examine both the source and the stream. A gossipy neighbor who is known to rely upon sensationalist tabloids will not be considered the equal of a level-headed acquaintance. If we cannot manage to verify conflicting reports from these two sources, and all other things "are equal", we will choose the account that comes from the source who employs sounder methods. We'd be fools to do otherwise.

#29 CTD

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 02:50 AM

The assumption that reports of past events can be erroneous is built into experimental science. This is why experiments are expected to be repeated, preferably by independent parties, and more repetitions are better.

If one assumes "the scientist" is perfect, makes no mistakes, and never lies, there is not much reason to repeat experiments. Clearly, honest science takes history very seriously.

#30 RobotArchie

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 02:41 PM

Please bear in mind that orally related history does not predate the advent of language.

Nor do wriiten history related events predate the emergence of writing.

#31 de_skudd

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:43 PM

We should kindly remember that we have no idea when language was invented. Nor do we know when writing was invented. We do know that writing had to come about sometime prior to the latest findings we have extant.

Although, we do have many examples of ancient writings in stone, on skins, metal and papyri, we have absolutely no idea how far back writing may actually go into antiquity. Therefore, any statement as to when language or writing began is mere speculation.

#32 RobotArchie

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 09:07 AM

We should kindly remember that we have no idea when language was invented. Nor do we know when writing was invented. We do know that writing had to come about sometime prior to the latest findings we have extant.

Although, we do have many examples of ancient writings in stone, on skins, metal and papyri, we have absolutely no idea how far back writing may actually go into antiquity. Therefore, any statement as to when language or writing began is mere speculation.

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Precisely.

That is why when so called Biblical scholars with vested interests are joined by their scientific brethren with no vested interest that we find the claims made on the antiquity, originality and authenticity by the various religous groups about their much vaunted documentary evidence are often the subject of much hopeful speculation and guarded secrecy.

#33 de_skudd

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 09:31 AM

Precisely.
That is why when so called Biblical scholars with vested interests are joined by their scientific brethren with no vested interest that we find the claims made on the antiquity, originality and authenticity by the various religous groups about their much vaunted documentary evidence are often the subject of much hopeful speculation and guarded secrecy.

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Are we talking about evolution again? Because you did say religious groups, so I assumed you were speaking about all of them…

Also, when you use the words “No Vested Interest” I can almost hear the vested interest dripping all over the floor beneath …

Then I think: what do any of these unsubstantiated accusations have to do with my post that you quoted? Then I realize that you want to somehow detract from the truth I posted, and somehow besmirch all the documentation that supports the historicity of the New Testament.

That must be the nub of it! You have no evidence for your claims, and yet you are willing to make them anyway…

#34 de_skudd

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 09:36 AM

If one assumes "the scientist" is perfect, makes no mistakes, and never lies, there is not much reason to repeat experiments. Clearly, honest science takes history very seriously.

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I suppose that depends upon the veracity of the “perfect scientists” vested interests CTD.

To be honest, one wonders if others will stop screaming long enough to hear the truth, and hear the facts...

#35 CTD

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 09:40 AM

Do tell...

#36 de_skudd

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 06:04 PM

Do tell...

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:)

#37 CTD

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 03:36 AM

The dispute between creation and evolution is one of the oldest known.

http://www.stephenja.../chapter09.html

In what is surely the most worthwhile essay in the series honouring the 100th anniversary of Darwin's birth, J.G. FRAZER discusses several noteworthy creation and evolution stories with common elements.

I'm surprised they didn't understand the implications better, and sweep this under the rug. It is thoroughly absurd to suppose independent invention. It could not be achieved as a conclusion by any thinking person and requires one of the biggest, most obvious assumptions I have ever encountered.

#38 CTD

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 12:41 AM

What's up with all this talk I keep seeing in other threads of "falsifying" history? Would anyone who advocates this approach care to explain?

Myself, I think it obscures the meaning of the term. An event either happened or it didn't. How does one distinguish history which is "falsifiable" from history which isn't? If no distinction can be made, the term has no place in the discussion. It's just a red herring/affectation.

#39 de_skudd

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 06:16 AM

What's up with all this talk I keep seeing in other threads of "falsifying" history? Would anyone who advocates this approach care to explain?

Myself, I think it obscures the meaning of the term. An event either happened or it didn't. How does one distinguish history which is "falsifiable" from history which isn't? If no distinction can be made, the term has no place in the discussion. It's just a red herring/affectation.

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We know why people falsify history; mainly because they don’t like it, and want to change it to meet their world view. Or, to cover some horrible things they did (think Stalin... etcetera) in the past, and are covering them up.

Fortunately, those of us who love history will take the time to dig past the lies to get at the truth.

#40 Adam Nagy

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 06:46 AM

I think people who are successful at viewing history objectively, find their first mission of truth seeking in their personal history. I think the best Christian testimonies are that way because they are full of candor and uncomfortable truths as a person goes to the trouble of unraveling their own deceptive past truthfully.

It's so freeing to let go of your own life as the foolishness that it is.




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