Ok, terrible pun. But I was brainstorming for an essay that I am writing and came up with this, and it just happened to be Wednesday, and I just happened to find terrible puns completely irresistible... Anyways, does it seem logically sound? Any of the terminology inappropriate?

Views: 6

Tags: belief, fact, logic, theory, venn

Comment by Dave G on December 16, 2009 at 11:58am
A day for Venn diagrams sounds great to me. :)

And as my contribution, Indexed.
Comment by Shine on December 16, 2009 at 4:48pm
I love that site! I totally forgot about it; thanks for linking it!

I agree, I think every week needs a Happy Vennsday.
Comment by Christopher James Davison on December 16, 2009 at 5:59pm
I think that diagram is incorrect. The placement of facts and theories should be switched. Theories should be in the middle of facts and beliefs. Facts are a part of the observed world.
Comment by S S Tragus on December 16, 2009 at 6:23pm
I love puns! Please don't apologize for making them.

Do you mean to say that facts and empirical reality in the middle are synonymous, that facts constitute empirical reality, while we use those to, on the one hand, explain the world and form our beliefs (the religious/philosophical/ideological side), while on the other we observe and formulate theories (the scientific side)?
Comment by Shine on December 17, 2009 at 1:49am
Hmm...I think I was dividing the world of human experience into two sets: the explained world and the observed world.

The observed world is what is what we perceive through our senses (either naturally or technologically-enhanced). The explained world would encompass all of our causal inferences about life (both material and immaterial).

Statements about events in the observed world that we cannot explain causally--but can readily perceive--are theories. Statements that attempt to explain something that cannot be observed, like god or supernatural forces, are beliefs.

The area where the two intersect--where we can both observe and explain an event--is what comprises empirical reality; statements in this area are facts.

I agree, theories should be in the middle of facts and beliefs as far as "truthiness" (I can't resist any opportunity to make a Stephen Colbert reference); it may appear as though facts are being labeled as a middle ground rather than the high extreme of truth.

I was trying to outline an essay with a thesis stating the detrimental effects of a belief in the supernatural. First I had to adequately define the supernatural so that I could (hopefully) not fall victim to convoluted thinking and remain clear in my writing. I was stuck on the natural world being defined as "able to be perceived and observed." Our sense are inadequate to observe many natural phenomena, but this doesn't mean that these events (like bat sonar or deep sea life) are supernatural.

So I guess that the observed world would have to include everything that could possibly be observed given unlimited capacity for perception. (But is unlimited capacity for perception even a logical concept?) However, we still cannot directly explain many of the things that we observe (or could observe); this is the red area where we theorize. We also have a lot of extraneous explanations in the blue area that involve events that cannot be observed; besides religious explanations, I think of homeopathy and chakra readings.

I should have added a third circle for the supernatural that existed entirely within the blue portion. Or perhaps the explained but unobserved world is synonymous with the supernatural?

TL;DR: After rambling incoherently for multiple paragraphs, my thinking is still hopelessly convoluted.
Comment by S S Tragus on December 17, 2009 at 9:50pm
I think I know what you are trying to get at and I see how difficult it is to pin the thing down, to see it clearly, and most importantly, to express it simply and succinctly.

I do see why you want empirical reality and the facts pertaining to it in the middle, and it makes sense that on one side you have people trying to make sense of reality using the tools of the scientific method, while on the other side people try to make sense of it by filling the gaps with the supernatural (god of the gaps kind of thing).

You don't necessarily need to get into any great detail of ontology, that is, the question of what is real and how do we really know what truly exists (related to epistemology). The important thing here, that I think you are trying to get at in your argument, is what we do with reality as we learn to observe more and more of it (first with our own senses, then with technological aids -- telescopes, microscopes, lasers, x-ray, infra-red, ultrasound, etc.). How do we arrive at reasonable conclusions, conclusions that inform how we live our lives, based on our observations? Do we follow a sound methodology, such as the scientific method, whereby the hypotheses formed from initial observations can be proved, disproved, and independently verified through repeated studies? Do suspend judgement until we have followed through or do we decide what we want to believe and then seek evidence to support it? Are we willing to revise our understanding of natural phenomena based on new evidence or do we stick dogmatically to conclusions or beliefs previously formed? Or do we see gaps in our understanding and then fill them with supernatural explanations so we don't have to continue looking?

I am hoping this helps somewhat. I think you are on the right track.
Comment by Shine on December 17, 2009 at 10:59pm
That does help! Thanks, SS, you're helping me unravel the mental knots. :D


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