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Old 10.06.2010, 13:23
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What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

No idea if this thread will be interesting to you, but I've just had a couple of posts with Upthehatters2008 (hope you don't mind!) which got me thinking. Rather than go off topic on that thread, I thought I'd start this one.

Here's how it went:

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If you offer evidence on the premise of "I heard it from..." or "My mate told me" then that is hearsay and carries little or no weight in an objective debate.


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Objectively speaking, it could also be an "expert witness" if that person has the necessary qualifications/experience. This is an internet forum and not a court of law.


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Agreed, but in debating/forum terms, hearsay in the common tongue and away from the Courts is hardly reliable prose and does little to strengthen an argument imho. It would be far too open to abuse.


While I agree with Upthehatters2008 that it could be open to abuse, personally, I would be willing to listen and consider someone's experience (even if second hand) in a particular area and give what they say more attention/weight, i.e. quoting a friend who is an expert on… or has done X for 20 years…

After all, we all discuss topics which in reality we have little more than opinions on formed by reading material or single experiences. Reading material is often behind the times - e.g. in medical research, publications could be available only 1-2 years after the initial discovery.

So, where do we draw the "evidence" line? Does every comment need to be substantiated by a raft of publications on-line? Some people quote websites to support their positions, and those websites could at times best be described as "dubious".

If I have experienced something over the course of my life and am an "expert" on the topic IRL, would I be allowed to put forward my opinion based on my "professional" experience as fact?

There've been a couple of *ahem* heated debates recently, which pitted people's "professional" experiences against other's "personal" experiences.

What if I've been running a project interviewing policemen on brutality, or have been a policeman myself (therefore have experienced it first hand, as have my colleagues)?

What if I was a lawyer operating in a criminal justice system that was being discussed?

Please note that I am not "having a go" at anyone or anything in particular, nor am I starting this thread to allow people to carry-on those discussions.

I am just interested in discussion and your thoughts on what is acceptable evidence in an EF discussion.
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  #2  
Old 10.06.2010, 13:41
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

Me again :-)

I tend to call it hearsay when someone says "I heard it from a mate..." even if that mate has 20 years experience. The point being , the post cannot be immediately corroberated.

If however someone steps up and says "I saw it with my own eyes" or "I heard it myself..." then that should be recieved as fact for the purpose of the debate.

Certainly not an issue of calling someone a liar, but more of discounting the post or adding very little weight to it when weighing up the facts to reach a conclusion.
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Old 10.06.2010, 13:44
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

Simples. Opinions based on hearsay dont carry any weight with me. I'll be more inclined to read websites thrown at me, and take into account the other poster's points, regardless of how dodgy the link is and I will not hesitate to post my opinion if the link's useless.

Just dont get personal and attack the other poster due to the online tiff that you are having because you know zero about their lives.
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Old 10.06.2010, 13:48
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

Fact is, if your opponent agrees, your source doesn't matter. If he disagrees, you just hope that you, or other readers' opinions will be swayed by your sources or a priori logic. But it's just hope. Some people can't be convinced whatever sources or logic is thrown at them. There are no hard and fast rules. But yeah, "my mate reckons" does nothing for me, I'd just as soon you made it up.
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Old 10.06.2010, 13:52
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

there is no way you can prove anything wiki isn't relaible, government website arn't reliable etc, I'm sure if you looked hard enough you'd find a site that proved black was white.
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Old 10.06.2010, 13:54
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

The thing to do it sift out the anecdotal first . . . this isn't about the source, but about the scope of the claim.

After that it very much depends what's being said . . . how reliable or dubious does the claim sound and what's the source?

The source doesn't make us accept anything 100%, it just gives us a general idea.

It also matters how much we care about what's being said. If someone is being particularly strident or potentially offensive, we should definitely examine their claims carefully.

There's never anything wrong with asking people where they got their information or choosing not to believe them if you don't have access to the same source. Transparency and fact-checking don't need to be laboriously comprehensive in every discussion, but sometimes they're important.
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Old 10.06.2010, 14:00
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

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there is no way you can prove anything wiki isn't relaible, government website arn't reliable etc, I'm sure if you looked hard enough you'd find a site that proved black was white.

...and there is always my version of events , your version of events and the truth. Some websites are respected though, and some present facts in a subjective way that makes sense and add up to the point of being reliable and trusted. Some great cigar smoking Brit once said that the truth is so precious that it should be surrounded by bodyguards of lies. (In wartime I might add, but sometimes the EF qualifies...)

At the end of the day people believe what they want to believe , what they like to hear and what makes them feel best about a situation. Then there are the cynics, myself inlcuded , that were either taught , or learned to question eveything with the cold realisation that everything they had been taught was either lies or plain rubbish. My parents started this with Father Christmas, then my teachers calling Pluto a planet, and lightning strikes the ground and that... I could go on.

Belief, as I often like to quote, is the death of intelligence.
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Old 10.06.2010, 14:03
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

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The thing to do it sift out the anecdotal first . . .
I'm with GG on this one (I think). To formalize a rule here as to what type of evidence is 'acceptable' for an EF argument in a way seems to imply that readers-- or argue-ees -- can't judge for themselves how much weight to give to a poster's input.

As has already been said, it's a matter of balancing the credibility (in your eyes) of the poster, how heated the debate or sensational the topic, and the availability of easily checked reliable sources.

And if you've run into an argument with someone who refuses to see reason (as you see it) I don't think it matters what kind of evidence you throw at them. At that point it's not a debate.
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Old 10.06.2010, 14:04
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

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Belief, as I often like to quote, is the death of intelligence.
Not really.

After all, belief is the necessary starting point . . . Knowledge is often defined as 'justified, true, belief'.

Perhaps what you mean is belief without justification or truth?
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Old 10.06.2010, 14:09
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

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Not really.

After all, belief is the necessary starting point . . . Knowledge is often defined as 'justified, true, belief'.

Perhaps what you mean is belief without justification or truth?

To further quote...

"“Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”"

Belief being akin to faith. To accept what you are told wth out ascertaining the facts, or even to carry on with your belief in the absence of any fact.
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Old 10.06.2010, 14:10
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

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To further quote...

"“Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”"

Belief being akin to faith. To accept what you are told wth out ascertaining the facts, or even to carry on with your belief in the absence of any fact.
LOL - where's the source?
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Old 10.06.2010, 14:12
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

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LOL - where's the source?



Robert Anton Wilson (born Robert Edward Wilson, January 18, 1932 – January 11, 2007), the American author of 33 influential books, became, at various times, a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, futurist, libertarian[1] and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognized as an Episkopos, Pope, and a Saint of Discordianism by Discordians who care to label him as such, Wilson helped publicize the group/religion/melee through his writings, interviews, and strolls.
Wilson described his work as an "attempt to break down conditioned associations, to look at the world in a new way, with many models recognized as models or maps, and no one model elevated to the truth." [2]
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Old 10.06.2010, 14:12
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

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To further quote...

"“Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”"

Belief being akin to faith. To accept what you are told wth out ascertaining the facts, or even to carry on with your belief in the absence of any fact.
Right . . . so the important bit is not the absence of belief, it's the presence of justification and truth (the fact). After all, you believe everything you think is true . . . your own existence, that the Earth goes around the Sun etc
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Old 10.06.2010, 14:15
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

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Right . . . so the important bit is not the absence of belief, it's the presence of justification and truth (the fact). After all, you believe everything you think is true . . . your own existence, that the Earth goes around the Sun etc
Belief, reality, truth... My head is going giddy (At least I believe it is).
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Old 10.06.2010, 14:16
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

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Belief, reality, truth... My head is going giddy (At least I believe it is).
Someone is probably shaking the vat your brain is in.
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Old 10.06.2010, 14:22
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Re: What is "acceptable" evidence on EF?

Member 1: "X was followed by Z"
Member 2: "Er, what about Y?"
Member 1: "I know the sequence"
Member 2: "It could have been W"
Member 1: "Are you lily livered / limp wristed?"
Member 2: "Ok, what's your source?"

Once it gets to this point, everyone starts getting feisty / bored / swivel eyed...
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