• EusebiusLevi
    10
    Hello Everyone,
    I am very happy to have found this forum. I should have looked for it before. Since no one in my immediate sphere of activity shares my interest in certain aspects of philosophy and epistemology, I have basically developed my thoughts on my own, with the help of what I have been able to learn from a few publications.

    By no means do I consider myself a "philosopher". I am just a layman with a few thoughts. Please be easy on me. I have no formal studies on the field, other than what was included in some of my college general education courses. I know that I probably will sound very naïve to some of you and that I should probably hang around here for a while reading and absorbing some of the ethos of this forum. But, oh well, here it goes.

    Over the years, I have been thinking about the issue of truth. I finally decided to write down my thoughts. But, I would love to hear what people like you think about them. I like to think I have pretty thick skin. So don't be shy. Let me hear your thoughts. This is where you can find my writings:

    1.- How do you know?
    https://temporaryland.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/how-do-you-know/

    2.- Denying the truth
    https://temporaryland.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/denying-the-truth/

    3.- Pride – Or the pain of being wrong
    https://temporaryland.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/pride-or-the-pain-of-being-wrong/

    4.- Don’t judge me just because I’m biased
    https://temporaryland.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/dont-judge-me-just-because-im-biased/

    5.- Steps for countering bias when evaluating evidence
    https://temporaryland.wordpress.com/2021/02/08/steps-for-countering-bias-when-evaluating-evidence/

    Thank you in advance.
  • fdrake
    4.6k
    By no means do I consider myself a "philosopher". I am just a layman with a few thoughts.EusebiusLevi

    That's most of us. People who have any qualification in philosophy at all are rare on here.

    4.- Don’t judge me just because I’m biasedEusebiusLevi

    5.- Steps for countering bias when evaluating evidenceEusebiusLevi

    Just so you know, usually posts like your OP get removed for advertising, I would've removed it myself but I'm pretty sure you're here to discuss things and not to advertise your work.

    I read both of the essays that I quoted the titles of. I've thought along similar lines before. I think you've done a good job of clearly stating biases and some amelioration methods for them, I was wondering if you'd indulge me by answering this question I struggle with.

    If you're really aware of biases and how prevalent they are in our reasoning, that means you can see them everywhere. If the idea of their prevalence is correct, most accounts of things are informed by biases. Something I wonder about might be termed bias-presence bias. In which the ability to detect bias in an account inappropriately adjusts their plausibility down relative to the ideas you already hold. I have bias, they have bias, my bias is largely unobserved by me, theirs is observed; so I take theirs into account without taking my own into account... What to do? How much does an awareness of cognitive biases actually entrench opinion?

    Fallacy Man in existential comics does something analogous - he can reject any argument for any claim by showing the fallacies used in it. He could well be accompanied by Cognitive Bias Man, which the comic does later.
  • EusebiusLevi
    10
    I believe that awareness of our biases is very helpful in arriving to accurate knowledge. It informs us of the need to, as you say, ameliorate, or compensate for them. That is why I believe a process, a method, with some essential steps to go through is required. I think that the steps I proposed are the bare minimum. They don't assure that we will arrive to an accurate conclusion, especially when the evidence we have is lacking or defective, but it will surely help.
  • Pantagruel
    1.4k
    Granted that, as human beings we are subject to an astounding variety of cognitive biases that can skew our interpretation of facts. Beyond even that, do you think that there is such a thing as a "fundamental openness" to information that might perturb either our world-view or our self-view? A presumption of undertaking the exercise of self-correction in good-faith, an attitude or disposition which necessarily precedes and founds any logical, methodical efforts?
  • EusebiusLevi
    10

    In the post entitled "Denying the truth", I discuss how there are many people not interested in finding the truth. I found it incredible that my own mother thought that what the government representatives, mentioned therein, did the wrong thing in revealing the truth to those young Argentinians. She thought that they were rude and that they should have left things well alone. For her, living a happy life is worth more than knowing the truth. So, there you go. Not all people value the truth enough to do what it takes to seek it.
  • Possibility
    1.9k
    I believe that awareness of our biases is very helpful in arriving to accurate knowledge. It informs us of the need to, as you say, ameliorate, or compensate for them. That is why I believe a process, a method, with some essential steps to go through is required. I think that the steps I proposed are the bare minimum. They don't assure that we will arrive to an accurate conclusion, especially when the evidence we have is lacking or defective, but it will surely help.EusebiusLevi

    Welcome to the forum!

    I agree with this - I also think it can be difficult to remind ourselves of this process when discussion turns to debate. I’ve often looked back on discussions that have deteriorated and realised that I’ve been as guilty of building defences out of assumptions and bias as the next guy. This is easier to spot when others in the discussion have a process themselves, and we all accept that any evidence or perspective we bring to the table is more likely than not to be lacking or defective in itself. I’ve enjoyed a lot of fruitful discussions like this here. We can pool our resources and see what emerges from the interaction.

    But when people start to label positions, it can be a sign that they’re closing ranks, and the temptation is to look for a wall to duck behind and gather weaponry. Having at least someone in the discussion still willing to recognise the deficiencies in their own position - like a toddler in the middle of the battlefield - can serve to keep the rest of us honest about our own uncertainties.

    I think most of us just have a tendency to look for a conclusion, a solid footing, logical statement or structure of ‘accurate knowledge’ as quickly as possible. We’re uncomfortable with the uncertain state of holding multiple incongruently formed ideas in the mind simultaneously - it’s taxing on our resources, and therefore painful. But so is exercise. The more we do it, the more we find we’re able to persist in that state for longer. And we start to see variability and patterns emerge, which enable us to restructure resources in ways that improve efficiency in that state.
  • EusebiusLevi
    10

    The object of the classic debate is to win the argument, not to get to the truth. However, if there was a generally accepted set of steps to demonstrate due diligence in countering bias, such as the ones I have proposed, part of the debate could be the need for each opponent to demonstrate that they have gone through them. Negligence in doing this, or refusal to do so, could automatically disqualify the debater loosing the argument by default.
  • TheMadFool
    8.6k
    issue of truthEusebiusLevi

    1.- How do you know?EusebiusLevi

    The Problem Of The Criterion:

    1. To have a definition of truth we must know what truth is

    2. To know what truth is we must have a definition of truth

    It appears that the only way of escaping this vicious circle is to define truth arbitrarily - anything goes so to speak - because the moment we feel/believe there are constraints to what truth is/means, we're sucked into the circularity. That however has the drawback of reducing alethiology and by extension all epistemology to a frivolous game which has nothing to do with reality.
  • EusebiusLevi
    10

    I discuss the issue of truth in my second entry, "Denying the truth". Therein I quote Bertrand Russell who said in part:

    “… a believe is true when there is a corresponding fact, and it is false when there is no corresponding fact. […] What makes a belief true is a fact, and this fact does not (except in exceptional cases) in any way involve the mind of the person who has the belief.”

    I also provide this as my take on what I mean by "truth":

    "Just so you know where I stand on this, to me a belief is true when it does not contradict reality. As simple as that. Of course, the question is then, how do we know what is reality? And I guess the answer is that many times we do not know. For example, we may know that a window was broken. We may suspect who did it, and we may express that as a belief. But whether that belief is true or not we may never find out. Does that mean that our statement was not true or false. No, our statement was either true or false, depending on whether it contradicted reality or not. We may just simply never know it."

    Arguing beyond that is pointless, in my opinion.
  • TheMadFool
    8.6k
    I would like to add that any theory other than the correspondence theory of truth could, in principle, contradict reality.
  • Possibility
    1.9k
    The object of the classic debate is to win the argument, not to get to the truth. However, if there was a generally accepted set of steps to demonstrate due diligence in countering bias, such as the ones I have proposed, part of the debate could be the need for each opponent to demonstrate that they have gone through them. Negligence in doing this, or refusal to do so, could automatically disqualify the debater loosing the argument by default.EusebiusLevi

    And because this is the object, it isn’t possible to eliminate bias from a debate. The way I see it, debate thrives on bias, and various strategies are employed simply to conceal or highlight it, not to eliminate it.

    Discussions which aim at getting to the truth require humility, patience and introspection - none of which are features of debate. Participants in open discussion recognise that the truth is not an argument but a collaboration. To eliminate bias, we need to be prepared to understand an alternate perspective as a contribution, and then critically evaluate our own from that position - not in order to tuck our ‘weaknesses’ or biases away, but to bring these errors to light, dismantle them, and collaborate towards the truth.

    In debate, to be wrong is to lose. In genuine philosophical discussion, to recognise error or bias is an opportunity to achieve through collaboration.
  • Rxspence
    37
    By no means do I consider myself a "philosopher".

    'the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence'
    from the moment of birth the studying begins
    it is important to know others opinions but remember
    more and more about less and less
    soon you know everything there is about nothing at all
    not an effort to insult, just simple and honest
  • fdrake
    4.6k
    That is why I believe a process, a method, with some essential steps to go through is required. I think that the steps I proposed are the bare minimum.EusebiusLevi

    I don't think the bare minimum you've presented is a practical bare minimum. I don't think that is your fault however.

    I agree with you in principle that all the steps you've provided are very helpful in evaluating how sensible a claim is, and that it's useful to be able to force oneself through such a ritual. What I wonder about is the contamination effects of proposing this bare minimum when it is combined with the fact that the basic standards of rationality and evincing are rarely used when forming beliefs - even for the proponents of these standards!

    Let's say we propose a bare minimum of rationality that every claimed fact must have a citation. If we propose that an account which does not satisfy the bare minimum should thereby fail to change someone's mind, then we'd end up colouring most inferences people make as unpersuasive. That's fine in principle, I think it's pretty clear that most beliefs are not formed in an idealised "court of reason". But if we take it as a fact that most beliefs are not formed in an idealised court of reason, that problematises the use of any bare minimum standard. So:

    Let's further propose that, in practice, the person who had that account of the bare minimum couldn't consistently apply it. So if they did not behave in accordance with the bare minimum at all times, the bare minimum could be used to selectively reject things the person was disinclined to believe anyway. The problem of all claims being equal de jure but not de facto; since not all claims are checked. In that case, the observed function of this bare minimum standard would often be to support beliefs already held regardless of how justified they are.
  • EusebiusLevi
    10
    Discussions which aim at getting to the truth require humility, patience and introspection - none of which are features of debate. Participants in open discussion recognise that the truth is not an argument but a collaboration. To eliminate bias, we need to be prepared to understand an alternate perspective as a contribution, and then critically evaluate our own from that position - not in order to tuck our ‘weaknesses’ or biases away, but to bring these errors to light, dismantle them, and collaborate towards the truth.

    Agree completely. The problem is that many times one thinks that one is engaging in this type of discussion, but end up debating instead. The real target audience in a debate are the third party listeners. That is why a two person debate is pointless.

    When agreeing to honest discussion, participants should be cognizant and honest about their biases, both known and unrecognized. Agreeing to collaboratively taking the steps suggested would likely help them all arrive at the goal of getting closer to the truth.
  • EusebiusLevi
    10
    Let's further propose that, in practice, the person who had that account of the bare minimum couldn't consistently apply it. So if they did not behave in accordance with the bare minimum at all times, the bare minimum could be used to selectively reject things the person was disinclined to believe anyway.fdrake

    By definition, no one can be completely unbiased at all times. It requires a special effort to do so. There needs to be a strong motivation required for putting oneself through the painful process of the steps I have proposed.

    Some of our beliefs are, by necessity going to have to go unchecked. Many times we are just going to have to rely on authority. Other times, especially when we have reason to distrust those feeding us authoritative information, we may prefer to go with our gut. But, for important issues, ones where the truth matters, going through those steps will be handy.
  • fdrake
    4.6k
    But, for important issues, ones where the truth matters, going through those steps will be handy.EusebiusLevi

    :up:

    Is there a meta ritual which helps someone know when to go through the rationality ritual?
  • EusebiusLevi
    10
    Is there a meta ritual which helps someone know when to go through the rationality ritual?fdrake

    I wouldn't call it a ritual. I would call it good practice. ;-)
  • fdrake
    4.6k
    I wouldn't call it a ritual. I would call it good practice. ;-)EusebiusLevi

    Highlighting that you're performing a bad practice bias for the purposes of a rhetorical deflection doesn't make it any less of a deflection! From personal experience, the only times I particularly engage the Best Practices Of Reason that I'm aware of are when a claim is sufficiently surprising and emotionally ladened, or it comes from a trusted source and is in conflict with what I believe.

    I think part of best practices also come down to a recognition of constant fallibility and error (pace @Possibility), I think that should only be suppressed while engaging in a dynamic of power.
  • EusebiusLevi
    10


    I don't see where to disagree with you. Therefore, I agree, I think. ;-)
  • fdrake
    4.6k
    I don't see where to disagree with you. Therefore, I agree, I think.EusebiusLevi

    :up:

    Then I'm glad we both agree. Perhaps I'm responding more to the act of highlighting bare minimum standards than the content of those standards. There's only so much impact they can have. Most lived hours aren't Court of Reason hours.
  • simeonz
    208

    It seems to me that the idea of truth you subscribe to ultimately requires simultaneous conviction in the same interpretation of sensory experience and the obviousness of some logical ideas by all interlocutors, which isn't automatic. For example, you are suggesting that statements are either corresponding with facts or not corresponding with facts, which implies that the properties of the universe cannot be counterfactual and we don't know this for sure. A probabilistic world, for example, may at least be admitted the possibility of counterfactual definiteness of its propensities, even if their actual form cannot be concluded with certainty.

    Other types of statements are methodological and stem from an existential point of view. They are justified by being and believing. I would dare say, the very claim you make can be considered rather unfalsifiable and thus reliant on spontaneous agreement of convictions. Which doesn't mean that it is unsupported by experience, but some part of it can only be confirmed case by case by degree of satisifaction of outcomes in the future. A lot of claims are like that. They are indefinitely arbitrated by nature.

    Also, precise justification is not always feasible for the sensibility of abstract claims. Its validation stems not from logical consistency, or representational accuracy, but its applicability, particularly its usefulness as a model of reality. And whether some theory is useful approximation will vary with the projected uses. Again, an evaluation to the constructiveness in the formulation of a model can be a good cause for the epistemic effort, but can it ever be irrefutably justified. A question on the forum is asking in what sense does the square of the hypotenuse equal the sum of the squares of the legs for a right triangle. This claim is axiomatically justifiable, but is it a good claim in an ontic sense?

    Finally, some questions stem to bias. I could make a case that debates should expose and inform, not resolve truth disputes. Or maybe a debate should intentionally polarize a subject, so that its qualities can surface, rather then submerge in anonymity. Or sometimes we need to digest information to its proper conclusion, and derive a consensus about its significance, as you suggest. It isn't evident, unless we assume something about the context.

    I will read your expose part by part over time. It appears to have some length to it, but seems also rather informative. Thanks for the contribution ..to the debate.
  • EusebiusLevi
    10
    It seems to me that the idea of truth you subscribe to ultimately requires simultaneous conviction in the same interpretation of sensory experience and the obviousness of some logical ideas by all interlocutors, which isn't automatic.simeonz

    Hi Simeonz,
    I don't know why you think that. To me, truth is completely independent of any person's mind. In fact, it may be the case that in many cases, the truth is not known or held by any person. That is why I many times say that the steps I suggest can help us get closer to the truth, not necessarily attain it.

    For example, you are suggesting that statements are either corresponding with facts or not corresponding with facts, which implies that the properties of the universe cannot be counterfactual and we don't know this for sure. A probabilistic world, for example, may at least be admitted the possibility of counterfactual definiteness of its propensities, even if their actual form cannot be concluded with certainty.simeonz

    The properties of the Universe are the ultimate fact. As humans, we are navigating blindly through the fog of our limited understanding and comprehension of this amazing universe. We may never reach the complete knowledge and comprehension of how everything works and why, the ultimate truth. But, that does not mean we cannot continue to learn about it and get closer to the truth. The truth is there, we are just trying to reach it.

    The same applies in many other aspects of our lives. The facts are many times hard to establish, but they are there. As we uncover evidence, we can get closer to the facts, the truth, as long as we analyze it correctly.

    I would dare say, the very claim you make can be considered rather unfalsifiable and thus reliant on spontaneous agreement of convictions.simeonz

    Yes, I am modestly proposing those steps for your and everyone's consideration. But, the idea that a methodology for countering bias is needed seems to me to be rather evident.

    I agree with all your other statements.

    I will read your expose part by part over time. It appears to have some length to it, but seems also rather informative. Thanks for the contribution ..to the debate.simeonz

    Thank you for your time. I value your opinion.
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