An important concept

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by seculardave, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. I've posted this in both the science and the philosophy forums because I believe it has a place in both.

    This is just my opinion, I could certainly be wrong.

    There's a concept I've learned while studying at university, and I think it's probably the most important concept a person can learn. Without an understanding of this concept we run the risk of becoming intellectually stagnant and taking false information as true without ever knowing it. It's a concept that underpins scientific progress, and in-fact in academia as a whole. Without it the sciences would not exist in the form that they do today, and this profoundly meaningful concept can be summarized in four simple words: I could be wrong.

    Unfortunately too many people are completely oblivious to the idea that they could be wrong and this lamentable fact likely fosters much of the misinformation that people have to deal with every day. People have preconceptions about certain topics and they tend to select the information that fits their preconceived worldview, as opposed to constructing ones worldview around the strongest arguments available. Moreover, people tend to be skeptical of claims that may threaten their worldview instead of considering the potential truth of said claims and the potential falsehood of those claims that support their worldview. Which, to be fair, is entirely intuitive (everybody does it) and it certainly has its benefits-where would we be if we were to accept every claim that comes by without being selective-but it can get us in to trouble. Which is exactly why “I could be wrong” is a good concept to have running through your head when considering claims that have the potential to alter your worldview.

    Rather than examining claims people have the tendency to examine the claimant, which to some extent is a good thing since not all sources are trustworthy. However if you accept claims based on your feelings about the claimant you may be appealing to an inappropriate authority, and if you deny claims based on your feelings about the claimant you may be committing an ad hominem; claims stand and fall on their own merits.

    Do animals really evolve?
    Is our climate really changing?
    Is reading in the dark really bad for your eyes?
    Do Homeopathic remedies really have benefits?
    Are the Illuminati really trying to take over the world?

    What do you believe? Could you be wrong?

    Clearly it isn't as simple as this, it isn't always easy to tell which claims are true and which claims are not. And there's a lot more that can be said about this idea, but I think humility is an important place to start when accepting or denying claims.

    Any thoughts?
  2. I think what's even worse is peoples' inability to consider others wrong too, just believing anything they are told by whatever prominent figure spits it out of their mouth.

    Then again, I could be wrong.
  3. Absolutely! I guess the point is that we are all fallible. No matter how much knowledge you have there is always the possibility that you've taken false claims as truth.
  4. What if methodology yields you an unpleasant reality?

    Would it naught be more existentially meaningful to revel in delusion?
  5. I believe in considering everything, and believing nothing.
    However, I also believe that most people have a certain idea of what they wish to believe, and are just looking for the best description, closest fitting idea to what they feel comfortable believing.
  6. I do not think that people should have beliefs. beliefs are something that you will usually hold on to until you die/ fight to the death for a beliefe, yet when we hold IDEAS we are more likely to accept that our idea is wrong instead of our beliefs, in which we then change our ideas accordingly. If the worl held more ideas instead of beliefs (religion, science, and everyone else) then this world would more than likely be in a lot better place. But thats just my idea, which i am willing to change should someone come along and disprove me.
  7. Numbers never lie. Nature is never wrong.

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