I would like to start a forum reference to the difference between fact and belief. I have heard several arguments wherein a fact is subject to interpretation. Would anyone care to elaborate? I think this is key when discussing deities as the origin of life.


My contention is that facts are facts, these are facts that we apply to our observations as constants. Such as in Newtonian physics, it is a fact that if a person drops a ball one million times, it will hit the floor a million times. Without variables of course. This is a fact. How could this be subject to interpretation rendering this a belief, or opinion? I contend it is not, but I would love to hear any insight as to this subject.


Thank You



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Beliefs and facts are totally different. This is why I ask, when do we draw the line between fact and belief. A belief is subjective, while a fact is objective as it agrees with the results of the experiments had. Yes, I agree that people do mix beliefs with what they think is fact, but if a person thinks god exists, or has faith god exists, it is simply not a fact albeit that they may say that it is a fact to them, but this is where I would like to discuss the fine line between a fact and belief.

Facts require tangible, independently observable, testable conditions to exist.


Beliefs require none of those things just someones devoted opinion.

Which is my contention, but I have had the argument posed to me that facts are subject to interpretation by the observer, ergo, not really facts. This was the argument, I said:


"Within science there is what we would call facts, its an understatement to call facts an interpretation. If you drop a ball one million times, it is a fact that the ball will fall and hit the floor one million times." Nano


To which I got this as a response:


"Such "facts" have always existed, but it was humans who came along and gave them a title such as theory and law. A tree falls in a forest but makes no sound unless there is an evolved brain present that can use ears to convert vibrations into what we call "sound." That is the legacy of science, presenting "facts" that can and always will be tested. Besides, facts have never done anything for anyone. It is the interpretations of these facts that create advancements, lies, and revolutions."


What do ya think? Especially this part:


"Besides, facts have never done anything for anyone. It is the interpretations of these facts that create advancements, lies, and revolutions."


Thanks for replying.




The tree falling is just a rudimentary Shrodingers Cat idea. That since the observation hasnt happened it didnt make the sound. Which is quite true until you open the box containing Shrodingers cat.


As soon as you go to the spot where the tree was there is the possibility of observable facts to test for the sound.


Hes also using the Just a Theory idea but instead of stating it that way hes calling it Interpretation. Theories are interpretation only in the colloquial sense. Theorys more accurately are repeatable, testable, observable Super Facts consisting of the supporting subfacts and natural laws that support the current understanding of how those subfacts and natural laws relate to each other.


While yes new facts can change the course of a theory by either adding to or changing it. That doesnt negate the theory as a fact of current understanding. It simply adds to it.


Add a fact that doesnt support a belief and it crumbles the entire structure like a deck of cards.


I think that is the key to scientific inquiry is that a new piece of evidence changing a theory is a welcome and sought after thing. While a belief that obtains a new piece of evidence changing it is a destructive force to that belief system.



As to what i would tell him though.


I would say okay... If the theory of gravity is not a fact i defy you to interpret it by jumping off a cliff.

Trees that fall in any forest, create vibrations that exist, whether any is around to hear them.

The REAL question, is that if a man walks into a forest and speaks, and there's no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong?


Interesting question archy. I don't know

Whispers: (Don't ask a woman, I can predict the answer you'll get --)

I think the "fact subject to interpretation" doesn't mean that the fact is in question, but what the fact implies is open to interpretation.


For example, we can agree that the ball will always hit the floor when you drop it. You say this demonstrates the theory of gravity, but I say it demonstrates the nature of god as infinite, eternal, and unchanging.


Or statistics -- you've heard the cliche: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." This is because even when statistics are factually correct, they could be misleading.

A couple of examples are here:


What the fact implies should not be open to interpretation is my contention. Such as the ball example, regardless of how you interpret the ball falling, on a fundamental level, it is a fact that it will hit the floor a million times.

noisician is saying that what the fact means is subject to interpretation. The fact that the ball will hit the floor a million times is just another (secondary) fact. The interpretation of the fact is another thing entirely.

It is not a fact that the ball will hit the floor a million times until you have conducted that experiment. 

Rather, you have a belief in Natural Law which suggests to you that the ball will continue to behave as you expect it to behave based on a more limited set of observations.

If you actually were to drop the ball a million times, I'd lay odds that at least once it wouldn't hit the floor.  The apparatus would break, the recording instruments would fail, a dog would come by and grab the ball, a bunch of leprechauns all named Murphy would turn the ball into a chicken...


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