Project:Evidence

From meenie
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Evidence is the available body of information which might indicate the veracity of a claim, and it's strangely hard to get right without the big support system the scientific community uses to double and triple check experimental data. Ask any random group of 10 people whether or not they think there's enough evidence for the 9/11 conspiracy and you might get wildly different answers; some may say it's complete bull and people just want to find something to be obsessed over, while others may say there's far too much to ignore, and still more might say they've heard the evidence, aren't convinced, but think there might be something to it anyway. This presents a remarkably simple, but incredibly important question: Who's right?

How is that a question?

At a cursory glance, one might want to simply say the person who agrees with them is right, however this ignores the issue that the very fact that these people disagree means it's not entirely certain. Maybe the others don't have enough information, or maybe you don't have enough. Say you've been researching 9/11 conspiracies and found mountains of evidence for it; did you ever consider that your research fundamentally biased you towards that conclusion? Conversely, if you've never researched it, or did research it but found the conspiracy interpretation unconvincing, perhaps just doing a little bit more research would uncover something that makes it undeniable.

Hopefully the dilemma now is clear if it wasn't already: Anyone can be right, and you might be wrong because of some bias. The answer, or at least a good compromise, comes from how one even defines "evidence". The beginning of this essay had a basic definition, but what does that entail? Who decides how convincing the "body of information" is towards any of the interpretations? Is it scientists, perfectly fallible humans who have historically been wrong as a collective and don't necessarily have a belief about what's being questioned? Is it a vague collective of "people" more intelligent than you, or a democratic vote about what's actually the correct way to think? Or is it that the very notion that evidence is in some way "objective" about what it proves is shaky at best, and the best possible meta interpretation is that evidence is a relativistic concept requiring each individual to decide for themselves?

Solution

The compromise, then, is simple, but with very bizarre consequences: Evidence doesn't exist in an "objective" sense, but a "subjective" sense. Taking it to its logical conclusion, this means that objectivity itself falls apart at the seams. If someone disagrees that <math>2 + 2 = 4</math>, does this mean that it actually doesn't necessarily because ultimately <math>2 + 2 = 4</math> is a belief with the evidence that it's commonly accepted as defining the very operational foundation of mathematics? In a sense, yes, but also no. It means <math>2 + 2 \neq 4</math> is a valid assertion for the other party, and its inverse is "objective" in the paradoxically subjective sense of everyone else in the world agreeing that it's the case. Both are right, even if the assertions are inherently contradictory, because they're assertions of subjective truth. A is true for Allison while B is true for Bobby, even if <math>A \Rightarrow \neg B</math>.

Relevance to para.wiki

This compromise is what drives para.wiki. With so many conflicting ideas on what the details and explanations of the paranormal are, to include if the phenomena exist at all, some way to determine which is the "right" one necessarily must exist. However, rather than go through the tediousness and controversy of arbitrarily deciding who's right in the face of wildly incomplete information, it was decided that all valid theories should be treated with equal respect. Any given theory is assumed to be true within the context of itself, and doesn't presume that the readers themselves necessarily believe them.

So to clarify; when writing an article, you aren't trying to represent absolute truth, as you might find on wikis with the blessing of generally accepted evidence like Wikipedia. You're trying to present the evidence that exists for a belief to at best convince the reader of its veracity. Whether or not anything in this wiki is true is entirely dependent on the individual actually reading it. And yes, this includes the skeptical interpretations as well.