Thursday, 28 November 2013

Facts, opinions, beliefs and choices

I expect this has been done by Greek philosophers onwards, but still each new generation needs it presented anew or they get terribly lost.

Facts do not change whatever you think about them, the only challenge is obtaining enough evidence to determine they are facts. When, like innate intelligence or global warming there simply is not enough evidence to be certain people take what there is and draw their own conclusions from them. These are technically not opinions but beliefs based on an expression of ignorance. The formula here is 'If I knew exactly the information I am referring to, would there be any doubt as to the conclusion?', if not then it's probably best to simply admit you don't know enough and neither does anyone else, and wait till they do. If there is almost enough evidence, whether from direct experience, science or both then you can pretty well be sure what you believe is genuine so only now a tenuous fact.

Opinions and tastes are not based on facts as they are personal. An opinion can be whether you prefer living in the town or country, or with a diverse mixture or just your own type of people. There is no right answer as it is totally based on a preference, and one which can change from time to time over ones life. This means the rabid leftists who attempt to force multiculturalism on everyone in their area as they have chosen it for their own preference (or more accurately what they wish on others as many involved in such plans tend to live in very white wealthy suburbs) and not as they claim because it is the right way to live. Only tyrants do that and we do not want to live in a tyranny unless we develop Stockholm Syndrome (fact). Other opinions include economic socialism or capitalism, where many people benefit and lose from both so not cut and dried, or whether to share more of your earnings with society or keep it for yourself. There is no right answer, which is why each election in a democracy goes with the majority view as neither holds the monopoly on any. The same could go for abortion, the age of consent, the amount of immigration we have, all based on personal opinion as whichever side you support there is an argument against the other. However, if they could find genes for IQ and test the owners of them within five points nearly every time regardless of their social background and upbringing it would remove the intelligence argument from the ignorant realm of opinion, as there definitely is a right answer, into the knowns of certainty and no longer open to question unless they are mentally challenged. The same goes for global warming, had there been a reasonable term to decide for certain we are warming the planet dangerously then we would have a chance to know, but its very nature means that point is set around 2100 so forget it. The next generation will know for sure but unless a reader lives till over 90 then it won't be possible to answer for certain. But know they will, and whichever the outcome our wild speculations today will definitely be seen as ridiculous, fact.

The reason for this, I propose, is the other side of the not-known coin is affirming there is not yet enough evidence to be sure. That would be a fact for the present as it is always up to a scientist to overcome the null hypothesis, in that there must be a genuine case before you can act on it. I say there isn't, and it's my view based not on the amount of evidence for it, but the lack of evidence for it. This means because firstly the argument itself is not anywhere near cohesive enough and is many decades from witnessing, plus the vast number of scientists who disagree I just listed elsewhere, it is not nearly sufficient evidence to act on, identical to a not guilty verdict in a trial, which is the closest thing a criminal case has without a guilty plea. Luckily science does not have criminals who hide their evidence, as the earth creates its own and although many try very hard to twist it will always prevail in the end.

Taste is a version of opinion. Our food tastes are innate, we either like something or not, which also changes over time. We don't and can't think about it to change. Decoration is similar, but much wider, we may love or hate certain styles, but accept most in between. Music, art, everything like it, is a matter of personal taste, you can usually assess quality (music can be mathematically regular while art can be representative technically at least), but not what you'd want in your house compared to another. You can therefore say a book or TV programme etc was crap, but would need a hundred people or more agreeing as a great majority before they stopped making the series. But even then the quality of an abstract painting or sculpture, or dire TV comedy can never be totally pinned down as a few people will always think they are marvellous, and as each opinion of taste is equally valid then you can't shift them to a factual basis unless every single person agreed, and even then it would never be permanent for future opinions.

The reason I am writing this is so many people confuse facts for opinions and vice versa. I suspect the major field this happens in is the not knowns, so because there is some smoke but no fire, it is very easy to have an 'opinion' each way, so it is really a belief, like that in God, which is only until and unless we ever actually know, just as we can only really know what happens after death when it happens and not waste time speculating beforehand as we are physically prevented from having enough evidence. This is because a genuine opinion, as in Labour or Conservative, pro-life or pro-choice etc can never have a right answer however much you learn about it, as there are winners and losers on both choices, for intelligence and global warming if they could talk they would tell us now, but while we don't know, any more than we do about life after death or aliens visiting earth, all we have is an amount of evidence. As the amount grows the likely answer becomes closer, and there is always a point before the conclusion you can see it coming so pretty easy to work out. But till then people take the small or medium amount of evidence there is, draw their conclusions, and rip the shit out of each other as it's currently impossible to know for sure either way so why the hell bother arguing until we do?

So, we have facts, opinions, tastes, and beliefs. They may look similar without your glasses from a distance, and may have a few areas where they almost overlap, but each is a separate being which cannot be made to be confused with the others, as this only leads to both total confusion, argument, disorder and ultimate chaos, while destroying the basis for knowledge in petty squabbles based on sheer lack of knowledge.

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