June 10, 2004


OK, just to clear something up, even though it's 0100 and I really shouldn't be tackling this subject at such an hour: it seems I pissed some people off when I wrote about Objective Truth. Believe you me when I say that I do think that there is truth out there. I think there's a right and wrong, and I just recently wrote a post about thinking in black and white. I haven't changed my mind in one week. I think there's real true-ness, as in facts that can be proven, but I don't think there's "Objective Truth", as in something that everyone accepts as truth.

Was Reagan a national hero who deserves to be on the $10 bill or is it that "the world will be a better place without that fascist f*cker's presence to soil it"? How can those two things be so polar? Isn't there Objective Truth out there? I don't think most people are capable of it. If we were capable of Objective Truth, then we wouldn't have such a shocking juxtaposition of opinions on Reagan.

So, to try to better explain what I meant, I do think that there are facts out there, but I don't think that most people are able to look past their bias to see them. So we end up with two truths.

For real, it's way too late to be writing this.

Posted by: Sarah at 08:11 PM | Comments (19) | Add Comment
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1 Lech Walesa shares his viewpoint at http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005204 This kinda ties to the cowboy theme we had going a while back.

Posted by: homebru at June 11, 2004 03:35 PM (KDnWK)

2 You can call it truth, bias or "spin". To bring the subject down to a simplistic view, try this...The glass is half empty. No, the glass is half full. Who is right? They both are, technically. But that's just spin. FWIW, I believe the glass is half full. And I believe the LLL's will ALWAYS believe the glass is half empty.

Posted by: Bic at June 13, 2004 02:25 AM (ZtWGh)

3 Good point, Bic. Thanks.

Posted by: Sarah at June 13, 2004 05:43 AM (mPqzc)

4 Unbelievable. You have apparently never been introduced to the concept of science. Here, let me offer you a few objective truths. The Earth is round. The Sun is hot. Falling off a 40' height will cause damage. Foolish and self-absorbed contemplations of one's navel will result in excessive and unwonted admiration of one's role in the universe. See - that wasn't so terribly difficult was it?

Posted by: GWPDA at June 13, 2004 11:33 AM (kpVNh)

5 Who are you? Are you a member of the Human Race? Roadkill perhaps?

Posted by: Cloned Poster at June 13, 2004 11:52 AM (17uvR)

6 Isiah Berlin had a clue. In one of his most famous essays, 'The Hedgehog and The Fox' (1953), Berlin focused on the tension between monist and pluralist visions of the world and history, and drew the line between different authors and philosophers. As the Greek poet Archilochus said: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." The Hedgehog needs only one principle, that directs its life. Typical examples are Plato, Dante, Pascal, Nietzsche and Proust. The Fox, pluralist, travels many roads, according to the idea that there can be different, equally valid but mutually incompatible concepts of how to live. The roads do not have much connection, as is seen in the works of Aristotle, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Moliére, Goethe and Balzac. In Tolstoy, whose view of history inspired Berlin to write the essay, he saw a fox who believed in being a hedgehog. Berlin's central dichotomy of monists and pluralists and his interest in such Counter-Enlightenment figures as Vico, was later interpreted as an attack on the values of Enlightenment. He was also accused of ultra-individualism. More here

Posted by: walter karp at June 13, 2004 12:05 PM (LLuT6)

7 Really, it is disturbing to see that someone with such a questionable world view is teaching (Social Studies?) Clear evidence that the battlegound for the enlightenment of our country starts with the trenches of K-12. Note to the "half-full" "half-empty" guy. If you think that the world is a better place than it was in the Clinton administration--you might want to check yourself. The reasons why folks (LLL's? whatever that means) are questioning this administration are quite valid, and I challenge you to jump out of your box for a little fact-finding mission. (Note that "box" rhymes with "Fox")

Posted by: tenmilekyle at June 13, 2004 12:07 PM (3UjtD)

8 Actually, the Clinton Administration shows that the less the government does, the better. As an engineer, I believe the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Posted by: Mike at June 13, 2004 01:43 PM (+K53a)

9 "Actually, the Clinton Administration shows that the less the government does, the better. As an engineer, I believe the glass is twice as big as it needs to be." I'm not sure if I follow what you are trying to say on the first bit there, but I appreciate the humor in the second bit :-) Now get back to work on the Hydrogen Economy!

Posted by: tenmilekyle at June 13, 2004 02:09 PM (3UjtD)

10 Well, from a scientific method standpoint, there are such things as facts. Some of the things that make facts facts are objective measurements, repeatability, and widely-agreed on definitions. Measuring a president's "greatness" doesn't really fit any of those. Now, of course, we could develop some sort of value function that could rate the presidents, but, the development of that measure would be fraught with bias. (How do we measure greatness? Inverse of the likelihood that a senior administration official was indicted? Popularity at end of office? Average popularity across time in office?) To claim, objectively, that President X is the best President of all time (or, similiarly, that these 5 Presidents are the best of all time) we'd have to come to some agreement on how to rank them - and this isn't a question of facts or biases but one that is fundamentally one of opinion. We may weigh certain facts more heavily than other people (and our "facts" may be wrong - my grandmother thought of Bill Clinton as a bad person because he fled the US for Canada to evade the draft - despite the fact that he was happily practicing law in Arkansas well before Carter issued his pardon), but that doesn't make our opinion more valid than other people's. In complex decison making events, it's often difficult for even a single decision-maker to develop a relative worth measure that consistently works (delivers the same answer) across time. Example: there may very well be a "best car" for you to own, and under "best car" we can include long-term effects like maintenance, reliabililty, etc., as well as subjective measurements ("I like that color") but think of how few people treat decisions like that in that way, and of those who do, they very often end up with inconsistent answers. There's an entire field of Decision Analysis which is based on getting an individual or organization to map out their preferences in order to objectively match their preferences to a preferred course of action. It works on its practitioners and participants ability to answer questions on their preferences, and forces them to consider what is objective knowledge and what it subjective. I recommend you look into it.

Posted by: Darkwater at June 13, 2004 07:22 PM (tXhUe)

11 Hi there Darkwater. You have given me what my good friend Denny would call a "Tony Jenson" answer (save yourself the google search, he's just a co-worker), which amounts to something along the line of: Q: What time is it? A: Looks like rain tonight. Now, I'll grant you that you seem like a rather smart cookie, and I must admit that I only skimmed over most of your jargon. Next time train your big ol' brain on the question at hand instead of constructing a question that you can string the most five dollar words together in answer to. Enough preaching, I don't mean to be snarky, I just hate this tactic of diversion. FYI, I was talking about just one comprison: the condition of America now -vs- its condition during the Clinton administration. I was not interested in rating the presidents as much as how life is/was under them. Issues like the swing of our economy (we were in a recession before 9/11 BTW)/Jobs/Personal Freedoms/the Deficit. I'm also talking about things like the negative (evil IMHO) face that this administration has put on America. The crass motives behind the invasion of Iraq and the price that our boys are paying in unarmored humvees, eating rotted KB&R food, asking for batteries from home in their care packages. (This seems to be basically a military forum, I'm sure its readers will not deny that these issues exist) I'm talking about the hubris that has put soldiers in harms way without adequate preparation or an exit plan for winning the peace. The breathtakingly poor character of our president and how it affects our relationship with our government (read polarizing). I will submit that the character issue was certainly a disappointment with Clinton--but I find a stained dress to be less of an issue than the issues we face today. My thought is, along with many other people, that history will judge this administration very harshly. Call me vindictive, but I want that report card to come out before these folks can do any MORE damage. Sarah, let me also offer an apology for the poor behavior of the posters (though I admit I did snark you once--but it was in jest an without mean any slur). I hope that you can salvage something positive from this experience.

Posted by: tenmilekyle at June 13, 2004 08:34 PM (3UjtD)

12 I feel sort of bad for Sarah. She is being nesieged by people that want to challenege her logic and her ideology. Why can't people just accept that this is what Sarah thinks and that they should allow her to wallow in her own opinions? Sarah represents the opinons of a whole lot of wingers out there that are teachers and doctors and engineers - who also might believe in Biblical creation. Here is South Carolina, my science teacher spoke of Evolution as though it was some sort of liberal trick - I bashed my head in every day arguing with the guy and all I got was a C out of it. Some people are simply too fargone to recover. They know what they want to know and cannot see beyond that. You can call that stupidity, but how can someone that is sure of their own validity even attempt to challenge their perceptions. Perceptions come first, facts must be wrong or biased or irrellevant if they do not agree with the facts. Republicans cannot be argued with any more than Creationists or hyper environmentalists. Hell, most people think like this - our society is based on it.

Posted by: Scott Fanetti at June 13, 2004 09:05 PM (5Cu8X)

13 Just what this world needs ... another clueless half wit American.

Posted by: BenS at June 13, 2004 10:17 PM (fFeny)

14 It won't let me comment on the other post, about the LA Times poll. About that, I just wanted to say: 1) Jeez people are awfully mean. 2) To all those people who are like "Get a book on statistics"... well, duh, of course a book BY A STATISTICIAN is going to SUPPORT THE IDEA OF SAMPLING, duh. How about, um, an unbiased book? 3) I have read 1000's of polls but I have NEVER been polled, ever. I have zero confidence that any poll reflects how I feel or really how anybody feels, except those few people that were in the poll. 4) OK some guy wrote "...A back of the envelope way to get margins of error is to take the reciprocal of square root of the number polled and multiply it by 100 to get percentage. Therefore 100/sqrt(1230) = 2.85, which is close to the 3% margin quoted in the article." PUHLEEEEZE! That is a perfect example of basically elitist bias. I am supposed to understand this? It means nothing to me. Blah blah blah squareroot blah blah... that is just a bunch of nothing. Really people are not interested in this kind of blather.

Posted by: a supporter at June 14, 2004 03:36 AM (fADbz)

15 Supporter: With friends like you, Sarah doesn't need enemies. Are you a troll ? I mean, how much more perfectly could you illustrate the contentions of some here that righties are willfully ignorant. I mean, you essentially come out and say, "I don't believe that crap, and I get bored by anyone trying to explain why I should believe it". Why bother to read posts like this if you already know what you're going to believe ? If you think using math to reason about the world is an example of "basically elitist bias", I shudder for you .

Posted by: boonie at June 14, 2004 05:09 PM (Q6pEg)

16 Dont forget folks for all your worrying is in vain, America will one day cease to exist or at least whatever model of society you think of as America will vanish...its this thought that keeps us europeans sanguin on the whole sorry mess that is the United States.

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