Standards of Truth


Revision 2
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Introduction

How do you determine what is true? Many people use very defective methods to determine the truth. Here is a series of increasingly bad human sources of truth. Think about where religious prophets fit into this.

Human sources of truth

  1. A guy who is a recognized expert in the topic matter just said it, therefore it is more likely to be true than not.
  2. A guy who is a recognized expert in the topic matter just said it, therefore it must be true because everything experts say is true every minute of the day!
  3. A guy who is a recognized expert in the topic matter maybe once said it, therefore it must be true.
  4. A guy who is credentialed or otherwise educated in the topic matter that I know said it, therefore it must be true.
  5. A guy who is well-respected by vetted thoughtful intelligent adults said it, therefore it must be true.
  6. A guy who is well-respected by adult fools that I know said it, therefore it must be true.
  7. A guy who is well-respected by children e.g. entertainer said it, therefore it must be true.
  8. A guy I know and respect said it, therefore it must be true.
  9. Some random guy I know said it, therefore it must be true.
  10. Some guy my friend or neighbor knows said it, therefore it must be true.
  11. Some guy a distant friend knows said it, therefore it must be true.
  12. Some guy a distant friend once knew probably said it, therefore it must be true.
  13. Some guy a stranger once knew said it, therefore it must be true.
  14. Some guy an unknown stranger of unknown reasoning skills said it, therefore it must be true.
  15. Some unknown stranger who died in a long time ago who was of unknown reasoning skills said it, therefore it must be true.
  16. Some unknown stranger who died in a long time ago who was of unknown reasoning skills and whose perceptions are in doubt probably said it, therefore it must be true.

This last one is of course the basis for religion.

Factors

Several the factors make these sources of truth increasingly bad. As you go down the list, there are more and more strikes against the person offering reliable information.

Here I separate out the factors that make these sources increasingly bad and I expand on them a bit.

These factors are a separate issue from whether what a person is saying happens to be true.

Expertise:

  • The person has training that led to expertise.
  • The person lacks training but has expertise.
  • The person has neither training nor expertise.

Style of thinking:

  • The person is taking a logical or scientific approach.
  • The person is reasoning but not in an orderly way.
  • The person is feeling not thinking.
  • The person lived before logic and science existed.

Subject matter:

  • The person is reasoning about true, reliably measured data.
  • The person is reasoning about rough facts.
  • The person is reasoning about rumors.
  • The person is reasoning about wishes.

Familiarity:

  • The person is someone you have personally vetted as a source of reliable information.
  • The person is someone a friend or associate has vetted.
  • The person is someone a stranger has vetted.
  • The person is not vetted.

Availability:

  • The person is available now to be questioned about his claims.
  • The person is far away preventing his being questioned about his claims.
  • The person is not alive to be questioned about his claims.
  • No one that knew the (dead) person is alive to be questioned about his claims.
  • Contemporary sources of the (dead) person are of questionable credibility.

I shall point out, a religious prophet would be operating at the bottom of each of these lists.

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