View Single Post
Old 22nd May 2020, 07:54 AM   #16
Penultimate Amazing
blutoski's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,274
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm not a logimatician, so I don't have fancy symbols or formal terms. But the way I see it is this:

First, it has to be predicted by the explanation. You don't actually have to say it ahead of time, but "if X is true, we should expect to see Y" has to be a true statement for explanation X and observed event Y.
In this case, I'll say the criteria is satisfied. "If the state wants to mislead the public they will publish false stats."

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Second, it can't be predicted by a competing explanation. An even that is evidence for both is effectively evidence for neither.
In this case, for example, "Incompetence" is a competing explanation. And I have to say, a compelling one.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Third, evidence is not the same as proof.

When I was doing ghost investigations, the ghost hunters would say things like, "I feel a presence," or they'd show me orb photos, sometimes they'd report that they literally saw a ghost. This is all 'evidence' but then we put it into the critical thinking meatgrinder and as you point out in point#2, there are satisfactory naturalistic explanations for these. The Natural Sciences don't really have proof, just increasing confidence in one explanatory model.

The challenge is that once you have competing models, you get into calculating probabilities which are often dependent on baselines that have to be assigned.

And this depends on worldviews, which involve trust of information sources and accumulated information drawn from them. We assign probabilities based on these worldviews.

Just as an example from this thread, above I mentioned that a perfectly good explanation for publishing misleading stats three times is incompetence. And unfortunately there's no research we can point to that tells us what the prior probability of incompetence vs deception is for this exact case. We're all just going to go with our gut, juggling a feeling about whether this is a case of 'government in general is incompetent, so high probability' or other partisan interpretations.
"Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness." - Terry Pratchett

Last edited by blutoski; 22nd May 2020 at 07:55 AM.
blutoski is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top