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Thread: Scientific knowledge

  1. #71
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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Is the existence of gravity an "existential belief?"

    How about magnetism?

    The main point here is that what you believe might be important to you, but doesn't define reality. Your powers don't extend that far.
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  2. #72
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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Montgomery View Post
    Correct.

    Isn't it ironic that the author of the op questioning the fundamental scientific Theory underlying modern biology calls himself "Aquinian?"
    Actually, if I understand the OP, I think I agree with it to a large extent. I see it all the time down here in the bilge. People make posts about some subject, implying or explicitly stating that it is backed up by science, yet there is no scientific evidence for it at all. Or other times they have a long history of claiming they only believe in things for which there is scientific evidence, and they write something that has absolutely no empirical evidence at all. For example, twice in the past couple of weeks, people have claimed that the highly unusual rainfall associated with hurricane Harvey was due to global warming. No one challenged them besides myself. Many people seemed to agree. Yet if one looks at why Harvey produced so much rain, the idea quickly falls apart.

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    The latter see the theory of evolution as a means of proving God does not exist, which is their religious belief.
    Oh, please. You have a better mind than this; do it justice.

    Evolution is an explanatory mechanism of great and subtle power, compatible with all known evidence and providing great predictive power. It has literally nothing to do with the existence of imaginary supernatural beings other than explaining how we developed minds capable of imagining them.

    What are you doing about it?




  4. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    Oh, please. You have a better mind than this; do it justice.

    Evolution is an explanatory mechanism of great and subtle power, compatible with all known evidence and providing great predictive power. It has literally nothing to do with the existence of imaginary supernatural beings other than explaining how we developed minds capable of imagining them.
    I have said nothing about what evolution is or is not. I have simply commented on how others consider the subject.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    I have simply commented on how others consider the subject.
    You don't show any particular evidence of understanding "how others consider the subject."

    The idea that to rely on science is merely a belief on the same order as a religious faith is flat wrong.
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    Somebody needs to study hurricanes before they start issuing cause-and-effect denials, based on political dogma.

    No reason to appear ridiculous, or moreso than you already have.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip-skiff View Post
    You don't show any particular evidence of understanding "how others consider the subject."

    The idea that to rely on science is merely a belief on the same order as a religious faith is flat wrong.
    But that idea is not what I said. I have been fairly precise, three times now. I am starting to think you guys are intentionally misinterpreting what I have said, and I have stated fairly clearly it is my opinion, I have not stated it as a fact. I do not have the time to find evidence for my opinion at this time.

  8. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodot View Post
    Such atheists, likely few in number, are naive. To use them in a broad brush manner requires qualification.

    Secondly, atheism is not a religious belief. To state so is disingenuous.
    I qualified the word atheist with the adjective "some" everytime I used it. What broad brush am I painting? Does not the word "some" provide the qualification you desire?

    As to atheism not being a religious belief: If I belief that God does not exist, that is a belief about religion, ie a religious belief. I see nothing disingenuous about that claim. If I believe that the earth is flat, that is a geological belief: it is a wrong belief, but it is a belief about geology none the less. If I believe E=MC2, that is a scientific belief.
    If God is the subject of a belief, that belief either being positive or negative, it is a religious belief. So if I say "God does not exist", I am stating my religious belief.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip-skiff View Post
    Somebody needs to study hurricanes before they start issuing cause-and-effect denials, based on political dogma.

    No reason to appear ridiculous, or moreso than you already have.
    I have two times, on this forum, stated why the rainfall from Harvey was so extreme. It was because there was one high pressure system to the west and northwest of it, over central Texas and there was a second high pressure system to the east/northeast of it over the souther united states. So unlike a typical hurricane that moves ashore and keeps going, Harvey stopped. It was sandwiched against a couple of walls, so to speak. And it stopped half way inland and half way over water. Very unusual hurricane behavior, had nothing to do with the hurricane itself. But it kept on picking up water from the gulf and dumping it on the Texas coast. Now, if you can explain to me how global warming was responsible for those two high pressure systems, we can talk. Otherwise, just shut up.

    Edited to add: I suppose Aquinian is happy you gave him another instance of what he was referring to in his original post.

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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Atheism is a religious belief in precisely the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    What are you doing about it?




  11. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    Atheism is a religious belief in precisely the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.
    That makes no sense at all. Is atheism a belief about God? Yes. Is that, in turn, a belief about religion? Yes. Hence, it is a religious belief. I am not saying it was a religious faith, I am not saying atheism is a religion. I am saying it is a belief about God.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    That makes no sense at all. Is atheism a belief about God? Yes. Is that, in turn, a belief about religion? Yes. Hence, it is a religious belief. I am not saying it was a religious faith, I am not saying atheism is a religion. I am saying it is a belief about God.
    i believe that atheism, by definition, is the absence of belief. . .
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip-skiff View Post
    The idea that to rely on science is merely a belief on the same order as a religious faith is flat wrong.
    i agree completely.

    And peb, I didn't mean to imply that *I* think that evolution is a great existential question.... Only that some others believe it to be so.
    "Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."
    --- Charles Pierce







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    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Longino View Post
    ..."I'm also not convinced that evolution is anything more than a hypothesis with very little evidence supporting it..."

    Gobbledygook!

    Evolution is reality based on tons of evidence. Your ignorance of that fact indicates that you should simply keep your ignorance to yourself rather than trying to spread it around here.
    If anything, Evolution is a theory, not a Hypothesis.It hasn't been proven without doubts but, the data collected through the centuries point to it as being probably true. I did not read all the gobbygook as I was hung up on "nothing more than a hypothesis."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    Atheism is a religious belief in precisely the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.
    I think peb may be right in criticizing this, but I think it is a memorable and very quotable remark and I plan to use it in the future, although not here! Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twodot View Post
    That such hypothetical atheists are even worth mentioning.
    .
    Dawkins would be upset he is not worth mentioning:

    We explain our existence by a combination of the anthropic principle and Darwin’s principle of natural selection. That combination provides a complete and deeply satisfying explanation for everything that we see and know. Not only is the god hypothesis unnecessary. It is spectacularly unparsimonious. Not only do we need no God to explain the universe and life. God stands out in the universe as the most glaring of all superfluous sore thumbs. We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can’t disprove Thor, fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But, like those other fantasies that we can’t disprove, we can say that God is very very improbable.
    from:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richar...l_b_32164.html

    No, it is false equivalence. There is nothing religious about atheism.
    Okay, I will restate my original thought:

    I originally said "They agree with Norman for the same reason: their religious beliefs. The former, that should be apparent. The latter see the theory of evolution as a means of proving God does not exist, which is their religious belief."

    I am restating it, so we can move past the semantics about what constitutes a belief about religion:

    They agree with Norman for the same reason: their belief about God. The former, that should be apparent. The latter see the theory of evolution as a means of proving God does not exist, which is their belief about God.


    Happy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    That makes no sense at all. Is atheism a belief about God? Yes. Is that, in turn, a belief about religion? Yes. Hence, it is a religious belief. I am not saying it was a religious faith, I am not saying atheism is a religion. I am saying it is a belief about God.
    No, it is a complete absence of belief, just as not collecting stamps is not a hobby.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CWSmith View Post
    I think peb may be right in criticizing this, but I think it is a memorable and very quotable remark and I plan to use it in the future, although not here! Thank you.
    Actually, I will happily say one of my hobbies is to no longer go camping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    That makes no sense at all. Is atheism a belief about God? Yes. Is that, in turn, a belief about religion? Yes. Hence, it is a religious belief. I am not saying it was a religious faith, I am not saying atheism is a religion. I am saying it is a belief about God.
    Word games. Atheism is the absence of belief in deities.

    What are you doing about it?




  20. #90
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    Default Re: Scientific knowledge

    Perhaps one could call atheism a philosophical conviction, or a belief about religion, rather than a religious belief as such. The latter does have more than a hint of false equivalence. But one way or another, it's mostly semantic.

    Some folks believe that the fact of evolution (I think I'm safe in calling it a 'fact', since the evidence is so overwhelming) supports their anti-religious convictions. Evolution does put a big dent in certain narrow ignorant kinds of religion, but that's more about the incoherence of those kinds of religion than anything. Some folks mistake Protestant Fundamentalism for all religion. They're wrong. About the existence of God, evolution tells us nothing.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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  21. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodot View Post
    Atheism is a religious belief in precisely the same way that not collecting imaginary stamps is a hobby.
    Ooooh, I like that, and may yoink it.

    What are you doing about it?




  22. #92
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    Yes. Dawkins finds the idea of deities unnecessary. (And it probably goes without saying that I do, too.)

    What are you doing about it?




  23. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    Actually, I will happily say one of my hobbies is to no longer go camping.
    I confess I have lost much of my interest as well. I've seen too many cases of tick disease and it got me a bit nutty about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    Yes. Dawkins finds the idea of deities unnecessary. (And it probably goes without saying that I do, too.)
    I think most people of faith would have to admit to that. Necessity has little to do with it.

    Dawkins is a smart man in other regards. He should be smart enough to see the hole in that logic. That he does not points to his bias.

  25. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodot View Post
    No, he would object to you mentioning him, because above you say that some atheists use evolution to prove that god does not exist, but in your Dawkins quote he states that evolution explains our existence and it is unnecessary to evoke god. He does not state that evolution disproves the existence of god, he specifically states that it can't.
    He uses evolution top equate God to "Thor, fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster" and says that evolution shows that God is "very very improbable". Close enough, in my book. He admits to no absolute proof, but he certainly is using the theory to validate the idea that there is no God.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    He uses evolution top (sic) equate God to "Thor, fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster"
    ...quite correctly, IMNSHO...

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    ...and says that evolution shows that God is "very very improbable".
    Can you produce a quote to that effect? I've read several of his books, and don't recall him saying anything of the sort.

    What are you doing about it?




  27. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    I will try once again to make myself clear. Norman stated that the question "Is evolution real?" is am existential question on the level of "Does God exist". Norman is wrong, IMO. But it seems to me that there are two groups of people who agree with Norman: 1) some fundamentalists Christians and 2) some atheists.
    They agree with Norman for the same reason: their religious beliefs. The former, that should be apparent. The latter see the theory of evolution as a means of proving God does not exist, which is their religious belief.

    If you still don't understand what I am saying, I think its best just to drop the whole thing.
    Thanks for that explanation, I now see what you are saying.

    I am not aware of who or how many people use evolution as an argument that god does not exist. It is an argument that a creator is unnecessary, but there may be religions that have a deity but do not make their god responsible for all of the nastiness like parasites and diseases that a creator deity came up with.

    The non existence of god id not a religious belief. It is a lack of belief.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CWSmith View Post
    He should be smart enough to see the hole in that logic.
    There's a logical hole in recognizing that belief in deities is not necessary? I almost hesitate to ask, but... what logical hole?

    What are you doing about it?




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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    ...quite correctly, IMNSHO...



    Can you produce a quote to that effect? I've read several of his books, and don't recall him saying anything of the sort.
    The paragraph in post 94. His summary paragraph of the article, its the last words of the article. The title of the article is "Why There is Almost Certainly No God".

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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    The paragraph in post 94. His summary paragraph of the article, its the last words of the article. The title of the article is "Why There is Almost Certainly No God".
    Hmmm. I don't think you and I are reading that the same way. I read it as Dawkins saying, in effect (and I paraphrase freely): "Look, we don't need to invoke deities to explain how we came to be. Belief in their existence isn't necessary to understand the universe or our place in it, any more than belief in fairies or trolls or the FSM, all of which enjoy the same amount of evidence - zero."

    What are you doing about it?




  31. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodot View Post
    He isn't just talking about evolution in the concluding sentence, but also the anthropic principle. The combination make invoking god unnecessary, and as a logical conclusion, improbable. But, he specifically states that evolution can't be used to disprove the existence of god.
    Fine, I will change my original claim again:


    They agree with Norman for the same reason: their belief about God. The former, that should be apparent. The latter see the theory of evolution as a means of showing God's existence is highly improbable, which supports their belief about God.

    Happy? Have a good day folks, I will go be ridiculous elsewhere.

  32. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    For example, twice in the past couple of weeks, people have claimed that the highly unusual rainfall associated with hurricane Harvey was due to global warming. No one challenged them besides myself. Many people seemed to agree. Yet if one looks at why Harvey produced so much rain, the idea quickly falls apart.
    Erm no, That it stalled simply meant that all of the rain fell in one place. Sea temperatures were the reason that there was more rain in the hurricane. Different problem.
    Other researchers, such as Michael Wehner, a senior staff scientist at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agrees. While he points out that many Category 4 and 5 storms experience a late surge of windspeed before landfall, he said he considered it "more likely than not" that climate change contributed to Harvey's last-minute intensification, and "I consider this a conservative attribution statement."

    Epic Rainfall


    The most damaging aspect of Harvey has been the incredible amounts of rain it has been dropping. Some regions are expected to see 40 inches or more of rain in less than a week, making it a potential record for the country. That wetness comes from the sea surface and the atmosphere.

    "Think about an ocean as an infinite supply of moisture," Prein says. "Harvey is sucking it toward land and dumping it on Texas."

    As the globe warms, rainfall is increasing all across mid-latitude regions. Just as with a hurricane's intensity, the heat built up in the sea surface from climate change allows the storm to take up more water vapor. And since the atmosphere, too, is warmer, its capacity to hold more moisture also increases.

    Every scientist contacted by National Geographic was in agreement that the volume of rain from Harvey was almost certainly driven up by temperature increases from human carbon-dioxide emissions.

    Wehner says the "lower bound" of the increase in rain as a result of climate's impact on temperature is at least 10 to 15 percent.

    "The big story is the precipitation—it's a no-brainer," he says. "Pretty much everything we've done so far has suggested that in this situation, precipitation will be increased. Lots of simulations are being done. In every single one of them, it rains more."

    Trenberth says that climate change alone can increase rainfall 5 to 10 percent. But if a storm comes at a time when the ocean is also experiencing unusual but natural high temperatures, that could double the increase in rainfall. In fact, it's possible that this combination of climate change and natural variability may drive precipitation up far more than that.

    "Some experiments suggest that these things can feed back on themselves and increase rainfall even more," he says.


    from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2...rming-weather/
    Last edited by Peerie Maa; 09-08-2017 at 04:21 PM.
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  33. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Perhaps one could call atheism a philosophical conviction, or a belief about religion, rather than a religious belief as such. The latter does have more than a hint of false equivalence. But one way or another, it's mostly semantic.

    Some folks believe that the fact of evolution (I think I'm safe in calling it a 'fact', since the evidence is so overwhelming) supports their anti-religious convictions. Evolution does put a big dent in certain narrow ignorant kinds of religion, but that's more about the incoherence of those kinds of religion than anything. Some folks mistake Protestant Fundamentalism for all religion. They're wrong. About the existence of God, evolution tells us nothing.
    Hmm, there are some (3?) religions that do not have gods. There may be religions with gods who are not creators for all I know. The issue is not about religion, which research indicates may be genetically hard wired, but about a creator god.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Hmm, there are some (3?) religions that do not have gods. There may be religions with gods who are not creators for all I know. The issue is not about religion, which research indicates may be genetically hard wired, but about a creator god.
    I've been told that Hinduism has no myth about the creation of the worlds, but does have a myth about the creation of species.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquinian View Post
    This is a bit of a challenge, but in the hope that it will stimulate a decent discussion and some introspection.

    "Science" is very fashionable these days, and the vague implication is that it gave us the microwave oven, the motor car ("auto"), a whole bunch of settled historical knowledge, and the knowledge of evolution.

    I'm wondering how aware folks are of where their knowledge or beliefs actually come from, and how "scientific" it really is, in the sense that they mean when they say "science tells us X".

    What prompted this is a comment on another thread to the effect that "faith is comforting and that's why it flourished in the past." I happen to think that's not particularly true, but whether it's true or not it strikes me as the kind of thing people are completely convinced of, and yet have virtually no foundation for - and they're likely to think that historical science is responsible for their idea.

    Another example is evolution. For the record, so as to forestall the usual "You're a right-wing redneck racist troglodyte who hates science because a fictional sky-person dictates your irrational ideas" crap from the usual suspects, I'm a Catholic, and the Catholic Church has no issue whatsoever with evolutionary science, only with the illogical and unfounded claim that evolution somehow affects the question of whether God exists. So I have no religious objection to evolutionary theory, and do not read Creationist or intelligent design materials, and never have. I'm not interested. I'm also not convinced that evolution is anything more than a hypothesis with very slim evidence supporting it, and I think its popularity owes more to the desire for something that will make religion redundant than it does to rational, considered, analysis based upon hard evidence.

    As GK Chesterton wrote so many years ago:

    "Most modern histories of mankind begin with the word evolution, and with a rather wordy exposition of evolution, for much the same reason that operated in this case. There is something slow and soothing and gradual about the word and even about the idea. As a matter of fact, it is not, touching these primary things, a very practical word or a very profitable idea. Nobody can imagine how nothing could turn into something. Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else. It is really far more logical to start by saying 'In the beginning God created heaven and earth' even if you only mean 'In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process.' For God is by its nature a name of mystery, and nobody ever supposed that man could imagine how a world was created any more than he could create one. But evolution really is mistaken for explanation. It has the fatal quality of leaving on many minds the impression that they do understand it and everything else; just as many of them live under a sort of illusion that they have read the Origin of Species."
    First of all, I doubt it is possible to say whether any supernatural being exists based on observing the material world or applying the laws of nature to the problem.

    Second, the question of where knowledge comes from is an interesting one. From my perspective, knowledge is a human construct.

    The way the word "truth" is used in ordinary language, it seems to mean, "that which I believe without question." Yet it is often discussed as if it were something outside of human consciousness, a sort of metaphysical monster that guarantees that we will have something to hang onto in a world of conflicting claims.

    But what if, like other words, it is simply one of the categories we use to think with? Would that make it any less essential or powerful?

    Compare this to property. We know that property is not objects, which exist whether they are owned or not. Property is a concept that allows us to build customs and institutions that regulate the desire to possess things, and reduce conflict over who gets to use what.
    Let's consider truth the same way. The world exists, and events occur, whether we know of them or not, just as object exist whether we own them or not. Truth is a concept that allows us to build customs and institutions that regulate our desire to know things, and to share that knowledge. When we speak the truth, we are making a claim that we have made a good-faith effort to ascertain the facts, and that we are making a good-faith effort to communicate what we have learned. If I look at the thermometer and announce that the temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, I am making a good-faith report based on a perception I trust, of an instrument I trust. The reading on the thermometer is a physical fact, which can be referenced by others who doubt my perception.

    We all know how to lie. It is one of those useful social skills that can save us from conflict or help us get what we want. There are those who think that, because we sometimes have difficulty knowing truth, that there is really no such thing, in which case all language is about power and persuasion, and none is about truth.

    One of the more jaw-dropping moments in recent American politics was when Donald Trump-supporting CNN commentator Scottie Nell Hughes said:
    She was referring to President Trump's preposterous claim that he had only lost the popular vote by 2% because 3 million illegal immigrants had voted for Hillary Clinton.


    The man Hughes was defending alleged that the father of one of his Republican opponents was involved in the Kennedy assassination, and that Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, would go to jail if he was elected. When asked by a Wall Street Journal reporter if his rhetoric had gone too far, he replied, "No. I won."


    But truth is not about winning. Truth can be powerful, but it is not about power. When we say something and claim it is true, we are making a claim about our intentions and our sincerity in speaking. We're saying that we are not trying to make excuses, or manipulate the listener, and we are saying we are not in doubt, that we sincerely believe what we are saying, and that we have arrived at that belief by trying to conform it to the known facts.


    The claim that we are telling the truth may itself be a lie, but we know what kind of lie it is. It is a lie about our intentions, or the extent of our knowledge. The claim that we speak the truth is a claim of good faith, and the claim that someone is lying is a claim that they are speaking in bad faith.


    Ms. Hughes was making a claim about facts that is fatuous at best and bad faith at worst. Her claim is that because many people believe something, it is true, even though they may believe something said in bad faith by a fabulist with only the most tenuous grasp of truth himself.


    But strangely enough, people may "believe" something for reasons having nothing to do with truth. Some beliefs become tribal markers.

    http://booksellersvsbestsellers.blog...-produces.html

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