A question to AronRa

*SD*

Administrator
Staff member
Laurens said:
I'm a bit confused.

Are you agreeing or disagreeing with the idea that we can't know anything for certain, but within a certain set of assumptions and given a certain probability within those assumptions we can say we know some things?

Well this isn't really what I've been going after, but to answer your question (as best I can) - I have no problem with what are usually referred to as 'basal assumptions' - ie the universe exists and we can learn things about it etc etc. As for 100% 'absolute' certainty with zero possibility of being wrong, no, I don't believe that. But I don't really want to go here because it might turn into that semantics argument over what knowledge really is. Back to my toe stubbing (sick of hearing about my toe yet?!) example. I'm happy to say I KNOW it happened. But seeing as I can't show it to any degree at all, and mindful of Aron's catchphrase, should I be claiming I know this?
 

Laurens

New Member
*SD* said:
Laurens said:
I'm a bit confused.

Are you agreeing or disagreeing with the idea that we can't know anything for certain, but within a certain set of assumptions and given a certain probability within those assumptions we can say we know some things?

Well this isn't really what I've been going after, but to answer your question (as best I can) - I have no problem with what are usually referred to as 'basal assumptions' - ie the universe exists and we can learn things about it etc etc. As for 100% 'absolute' certainty with zero possibility of being wrong, no, I don't believe that. But I don't really want to go here because it might turn into that semantics argument over what knowledge really is. Back to my toe stubbing (sick of hearing about my toe yet?!) example. I'm happy to say I KNOW it happened. But seeing as I can't show it to any degree at all, and mindful of Aron's catchphrase, should I be claiming I know this?

I don't think there is anything wrong with claiming you know it, if you feel given the basal assumptions we've discussed that you know you did stub your toe. You might not be able to show it to anyone else, if they weren't there. In this instance they'd have reason to doubt you if they wanted to, but it would be a pretty pointless debate to have.

Subjective experience with no corroboration is different to the claim of something existing. Sticking with the mundane, if I tell you my parents have a dog, I can show that. I might have pictures, I could even take you to meet him. You'd be pretty unreasonable to turn around and say I can't claim to know that my parents have a dog.

Even in the case of stubbing your toe, you probably could show it if you really needed to. Whether it is a toe print on the object, or tiny fragments of the object on your sock (or vice versa), or minor damage to the toe itself.
 

*SD*

Administrator
Staff member
Laurens said:
I don't think there is anything wrong with claiming you know it

Neither do I. Whilst I wouldn't speak on Aron's behalf, I think he would. He's said, or at least strongly implied that I perhaps shouldn't be saying I know it. I don't want to sound like a stuck record, or get into the completely ridiculous, but as I suggested earlier - go touch a cushion and make sure no one sees you do it. You are unlikely to leave a fingerprint, I doubt even the most thorough medical examination would find even a miniscule fracture on your finger. Do you know you touched that cushion? It's not about being able to demonstrate it to me, it's a question of whether YOU should be saying you know you did it. "If you can't show it - YOU don't know it" as opposed to "If you can't show it then my cousins best friend can't know it" kinda thing.

Laurens said:
if you feel given the basal assumptions we've discussed that you know you did stub your toe. You might not be able to show it to anyone else, if they weren't there. In this instance they'd have reason to doubt you if they wanted to, but it would be a pretty pointless debate to have.

Indeed it would be pointless, however Aron is (apparently) not restricting his criteria to extraordinary claims, I pondered for quite a while on this because it's always bugged me, before deciding to ask him about it. That's why I've emphasised over and over that I'm DELIBERATELY talking about trivial crap that doesn't really matter - because he doesn't seem to be restricting it to just the unlikely or improbable, if he said (as I've already mentioned) he was, this wouldn't have got to page 2.
Laurens said:
Subjective experience with no corroboration is different to the claim of something existing. Sticking with the mundane, if I tell you my parents have a dog, I can show that. I might have pictures, I could even take you to meet him. You'd be pretty unreasonable to turn around and say I can't claim to know that my parents have a dog.

I know you could show that your parents have a dog, that's why that example doesn't work, I want to stick with things that CAN'T be shown. What say your parents dog sniffs your crotch when no one else is around? You can prove the dog exists, and I'll risk it and say you can prove your crotch exists too! We also know that dogs enjoy sniffing crotches - this is a totally probable thing to happen, no reason for me to doubt you. Doesn't matter whether I do or not, do YOU know the dog sniffed your crotch? The fact that you have nothing to gain in lying is besides my point, Aron's phrase is "If you can't show it YOU don't know it" It is not "If Laurens can't show it then SD can't know it"
Laurens said:
Even in the case of stubbing your toe, you probably could show it if you really needed to. Whether it is a toe print on the object, or tiny fragments of the object on your sock (or vice versa), or minor damage to the toe itself.

Ok so I'll go to something even MORE trivial - it's currently 16:30 my time and I've just looked out of the window.
No one else is here.
By what means can this be proven? It surely can't, right? So do I know I just looked out of the window?

I'm honestly not trying to come up with stupid crap here, I just feel like my point is lost, maybe I'm not making it well enough.
 

Laurens

New Member
*SD* said:
Ok so I'll go to something even MORE trivial - it's currently 16:30 my time and I've just looked out of the window.
No one else is here.
By what means can this be proven? It surely can't, right? So do I know I just looked out of the window?

I'm honestly not trying to come up with stupid crap here, I just feel like my point is lost, maybe I'm not making it well enough.

It can't be proven to me at least.

But I'd say you can know to within a certain degree of probability that it happened despite not being able to prove it to me, or even necessarily to yourself. Unless you have reason to think your memories are false, that you are prone to hallucination etc, you can quite reasonably say you know (as far as you can know) that you looked out of the window just now.

You don't know in the strictest sense, but you can be reasonably certain.
 

*SD*

Administrator
Staff member
Laurens said:
*SD* said:
Ok so I'll go to something even MORE trivial - it's currently 16:30 my time and I've just looked out of the window.
No one else is here.
By what means can this be proven? It surely can't, right? So do I know I just looked out of the window?

I'm honestly not trying to come up with stupid crap here, I just feel like my point is lost, maybe I'm not making it well enough.

It can't be proven to me at least.

But I'd say you can know to within a certain degree of probability that it happened despite not being able to prove it to me, or even necessarily to yourself. Unless you have reason to think your memories are false, that you are prone to hallucination etc, you can quite reasonably say you know (as far as you can know) that you looked out of the window just now.

You don't know in the strictest sense, but you can be reasonably certain.

AronRa said:
Again, if you can't confirm it to any degree at all by any means whatsoever, then how would you know if you really know that?

Unless I'm misunderstanding this, Aron doesn't agree.
I can't confirm it to any degree by any means whatsoever. So how do I know if I really know I looked out of the window when I said I did? I don't (according to this standard) - yes?
 

Laurens

New Member
*SD* said:
AronRa said:
Again, if you can't confirm it to any degree at all by any means whatsoever, then how would you know if you really know that?

Unless I'm misunderstanding this, Aron doesn't agree.
I can't confirm it to any degree by any means whatsoever. So how do I know if I really know I looked out of the window when I said I did? I don't (according to this standard) - yes?

I would not want to speak for Aron, but from what I can see it's basically what I've said.

You can't 100% confirm that looking out of the window actually happened. It could have been a rare one off hallucination or something. Or you could be a brain in a jar if we want to take it that far.

But there are degrees at which you can confirm it to yourself. You know whether or not you are suffering from any mental health issues that are characterized by hallucination, etc etc. You can describe what you saw out of the window and look again to see whether its still there. These are degrees of confirmation and given that it is not an unreasonable claim, that's all you really need to say that it happened.

If you had taken magic mushrooms, not slept for 3 days and were prone to hallucination anyway then you might have reasons to doubt, but I think the reasons I mention about count as 'degrees' by which you can confirm it.
 

he_who_is_nobody

Well-Known Member
*SD* said:
AronRa said:
Again, if you can't confirm it to any degree at all by any means whatsoever, then how would you know if you really know that?

Unless I'm misunderstanding this, Aron doesn't agree.
I can't confirm it to any degree by any means whatsoever. So how do I know if I really know I looked out of the window when I said I did? I don't (according to this standard) - yes?

[sarcasm]You could just ask the NSA for the video to confirm it.[/sarcasm]
 
I have not followed every post in this thread, SD, but it sounds like a good theistic/devil’s advocate question which I thought might be where you were going, but it doesn’t seem to be from what I read.

If one concedes that you stubbed your toe based on many others having experienced it and it being possible, then does that not lead to a slippery slope of theistic claims where people see or hear God? After all, there are equally many examples and many would argue that God is a real possibility. This latter point also negates the, ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’.

Did God visit you in a dream or did you dream that God visited you? What is the difference? They sound very similar or identical and in experience, but one could not be further from the other.

Although I have never dreamed that I have swallowed a giant marshmallow (and woke to find my pillow missing), I have dreamed that I kicked out at a T. Rex and woke to experience a broken toe (and little damage to the wall next to my bed). I attributed the T. Rex to a dream and my sore toe to my physical, dreaming reaction in reality. Had the damage not lasted until I woke, I would have had no evidence of kicking the wall or a link between dreaming and reality. If my dream were that I woke up and went to the kitchen and then walked back, I would likely not be able to tell the difference between actually walking to the kitchen (as it could really have occurred) and just dreaming it.

And so even toe stubbing could have occurred in a dream, but I suspect that, depending on the circumstances, it could be very likely to have been real. E.g. if you run out of the room swearing, holding your foot and then someone sees you and you explain what you just did, it is very probably true… unless you were just pranking them or something. Wow. Even that isn't clear cut.

Courts of law and laboratories are the places to try to get to the bottom of things. Courts look at evidence and weigh it up and come up with the most likely scenario. Laboratories try to rule out, by repeated efforts, the likelihood of error in confirming something. So it is right that if we are to apply rules; we just need to be clear, careful, universal or deliberately selective by agreement.

I can’t show lots of things. How a computer, electricity or a helicopter works for example. So, I don’t know it, I trust it. We all base our lives on trusting the work of others, in the interests of time/risk to have a life. That is why things are tested so well to avoid false or dangerous hope. I use, ‘trust’ is a different sense to faith, in the theistic sense.
 

*SD*

Administrator
Staff member
Hi, the issue I have is (I will be as brief as I can so as not to overcomplicate it) -

The statement is "If you can't show it, you don't know it"
It's not "If you can't show it then you can't prove it to others"

So, a trivial example would be stubbing your toe, very lightly. Assuming nobody witnesses it, and there's no CCTV etc etc I don't understand how you could show that this happened, ergo, you don't know it. Outside of invoking something like solipsism (which would defy the spirit of the argument I'm making) or "absolute certainty" (which is never my aim) I think this argument stands. We're working with normal definitions of words like "know" - not some funky ass fringe definition, just what everyone takes "know" to mean. I disagree that just because you can't show it, that means you don't know it, it might mean you can't satisfy someone else that <insert thing here> happened, but it wouldn't mean you don't know it happened.
 
It was used as a point making statement. Like, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ or, ‘many hands make light work’. They may seem contradictory, but to question them or find exceptions is to miss the point or meaning when it is specifically used.

Don’t kill, steel or rape seem pretty simple and clear statements to make, that everyone understands, but each probably require many words/chapters (and many defence test cases) to convict someone, because, like anything, when you get down to the nuts and bolts, (like in law or science), it matters. Some go free and some go to jail. The reason could be a good lawyer, a bad judge or something like finding evidence for consent. You can get away with murder in a debate because there is no time to cross check or address all points, and when you do, it is yesterday’s news, like the tabloid press stories.

It would not be very convenient or popular to quote a 4 chapter law book to make a 5 second media-friendly soundbite, and if the law could make it so simple and unchallengeable in a sentence, it would love to do so.

The statement, ‘If you can’t show it, you don’t know it’ refers to claims that people make but can’t substantiate and is a means of succinctly bringing false, dubious, supernatural, conspiratorial or related claims to the fore of testability and self-challenge/awareness. It is saying that the claim or statement or testimony or experience being put forward to be accepted or believed, if not available for others to check, is likely not something you actually know, but rather just believe. And belief is the definition of a lack of evidence and the antithesis of reason. Even nif you were to experience a stubbed toe or God in the flesh, if it can’t be tested or repeated or demonstrated, then it cannot be confirmed, even if true/right. It doesn’t even say that you are wrong or your belief or god or experience are false or imaginary. It simply says that others can’t know it based on just your account if you were alone, and it invites you to self-evaluate and put yourself in others’ positions and consider logic and the implications and likelihood based on past experience, of your account. For example, it is a lot more likely that a pre-arranged set up or induced hallucination occurred than for there to be a supernatural force or ex-planation. Magicians and those who contact the dead successfully base their acts on exactly this method. They may be doing real magic or truly contacting the dead, but statistics and experience would strongly point in a different direction.

I have no doubt that Aron Ra and others would gladly concede that the statement is not meant to be literal in all circumstances or made for the everyday examples you refer to, but rather an overriding rational alert or middle finger to false, untestable or other claim that likely has a more natural explanation. Which brings us back to dreams etc. or even a more fundamental question of, ‘how do we know anything?’.

I think we can probably all agree to agree. There does not seem (to me) to be any actual disagreement.

Happy moderating!
 

*SD*

Administrator
Staff member
BrachioPEP said:
It was used as a point making statement. Like, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ or, ‘many hands make light work’. They may seem contradictory, but to question them or find exceptions is to miss the point or meaning when it is specifically used.

I honestly don't understand why this is relevant.

BrachioPEP said:
Don’t kill, steel or rape seem pretty simple and clear statements to make, that everyone understands, but each probably require many words/chapters (and many defence test cases) to convict someone, because, like anything, when you get down to the nuts and bolts, (like in law or science), it matters. Some go free and some go to jail. The reason could be a good lawyer, a bad judge or something like finding evidence for consent. You can get away with murder in a debate because there is no time to cross check or address all points, and when you do, it is yesterday’s news, like the tabloid press stories.

Or this.

BrachioPEP said:
It would not be very convenient or popular to quote a 4 chapter law book to make a 5 second media-friendly soundbite, and if the law could make it so simple and unchallengeable in a sentence, it would love to do so.

Or this.

BrachioPEP said:
The statement, ‘If you can’t show it, you don’t know it’ refers to claims that people make but can’t substantiate and is a means of succinctly bringing false, dubious, supernatural, conspiratorial or related claims to the fore of testability and self-challenge/awareness. It is saying that the claim or statement or testimony or experience being put forward to be accepted or believed, if not available for others to check, is likely not something you actually know, but rather just believe. And belief is the definition of a lack of evidence and the antithesis of reason. Even nif you were to experience a stubbed toe or God in the flesh, if it can’t be tested or repeated or demonstrated, then it cannot be confirmed, even if true/right. It doesn’t even say that you are wrong or your belief or god or experience are false or imaginary. It simply says that others can’t know it based on just your account if you were alone, and it invites you to self-evaluate and put yourself in others’ positions and consider logic and the implications and likelihood based on past experience, of your account. For example, it is a lot more likely that a pre-arranged set up or induced hallucination occurred than for there to be a supernatural force or ex-planation. Magicians and those who contact the dead successfully base their acts on exactly this method. They may be doing real magic or truly contacting the dead, but statistics and experience would strongly point in a different direction.

It just seems like, as per your own admission previously, you haven't read the thread. I mean it's not even very long so I'm not sure why you haven't taken the time to do that. That's why despite this being a zombie thread from years ago I thought it worthwhile to restate and summarise my contention for you.

BrachioPEP said:
I have no doubt that Aron Ra and others would gladly concede that the statement is not meant to be literal in all circumstances or made for the everyday examples you refer to, but rather an overriding rational alert or middle finger to false, untestable or other claim that likely has a more natural explanation. Which brings us back to dreams etc. or even a more fundamental question of, ‘how do we know anything?’.

I know what he's trying to say, I've already given him the steelman several times in this short thread, please just read it?

BrachioPEP said:
I think we can probably all agree to agree. There does not seem (to me) to be any actual disagreement.

Well, let's keep it going and find out! I would challenge you to point to anything I've said that you feel is factually incorrect or otherwise in error, IOW, show me wrong and I'll happily concede.

BrachioPEP said:
Happy moderating!

I'm not moderating this thread, just responding to it :)
 
Just another point on toe stubbing. If the toe stubbing coincided with a murder, then it quite possibly could be demonstrated. A slight bruise, pressure mark or slightly moved furniture, a little sock or show material or scuff mark, your testimony that you did it which enabled forensics to test it. It may be circumstancial, but that gets past a court a lot of the time and puts people in prison for life. The point is that the triviality of the matter would not be tested. So, you possibly COULD show it, but in this case, no one would expect you to or want to pay for suych testing. But to counter this, you could give an even more trivial example where there is no evidence possible. Doe trees make anyt sound when they fall if no-one is there? And this really brings things back to the point and purpose of the sentence - as a reminder, to save explaining or going through all of this to someone.
 
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