General Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Are facts truly relevant when someone wishes to believe them?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26821points) June 30th, 2016

So often people want to point to facts, some statistic, experiment, discovery etc. to say this happened, or is happening, etc. The facts that is presented seem to be relevant only of the person receiving the facts choose to believe it. Some scientist point instruments in the heavens and because certain events happen or can be estimated by mathematical calculation something like a black hole is said to be there. All that there is, is the figures, no visuals, no eye witness, just a crunch of number; but it is there. If those same scientist were at a retreat in the mountains where the locals say there is a yeti or sasquatch, and during the night thrashing is heard and upon looking from the deck the next morning large human-like footprints were in the snow with broken tree branches along its path, most of those scientist would reject that evidence, or those facts. What is the difference, because they choose not to believe in yetis and thus any evidence connected to them even if more solid than an invisible hole which only a number crunch say is out there? Doesn’t that make facts and numbers without something tangible to lay hands on just of the will of the receiver to believe it?

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17 Answers

Strauss's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central GQ! I have a lot to say this, but I’m on my phone right now. I’ll be back later this evening or in the morning with a long detailed reply.

Darth_Algar's avatar

A large human-like footprint and broken tree branches can easily be made by humans. Humans also have a long history of creating hoaxes. It is unlikely that the Universe is playing a hoax on us with the evidence for black holes.

flutherother's avatar

Scientists don’t reject facts they come up with the simplest and most likely theories to explain them. Firstly though they must establish what the facts are.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Darth_Algar A large human-like footprint and broken tree branches can easily be made by humans.
So anything a human could have created or done is enough anti-evidence to reject any and all possibility that it might be real? Isn’t that taking personal preference over the fact before one’s eyes? What of all those people who actually seen and taken footage of UFOs (be it some very blurry), if a group of people seen something that is more or just as credible as number crunching to point out a black hole? Unless the skies are playing hoaxes on numerous people from law enforcement people, commercial pilots even astronauts.

@flutherother Firstly though they must establish what the facts are.
And what the facts are can be done in a capricious manner. If I choose to believe there is a yeti somewhere then I take the facts of footprints and broken branches as true fact, if I don’t, I reject the facts. If I want to believe in worm holes in space, I will believe any fact real but unprovable or manufactured to believe such, the possibility that whatever is recorded or observed could be effected by something between here and there that cannot be detected or seen.

Bill1939's avatar

One only sees what they are looking for. When something seems to be evidence of what is being sought then it is likely to be taken as a fact. Should someone present contrary evidence it is likely to be rejected. Often the person advancing conflicting data was looking for it.

Plasma cosmology attempts to explain both the expanding universe and how galaxies hold its outermost planets without the addition of qualities that are yet to be observed. However, the current popular scientific belief holds that dark energy and dark matter are responsible.

Winston H. Bostick’s laboratory plasma experiments suggest that that Hubble expansion can be produced with repulsive mutual induction between neighboring galaxies and provides for finite-sized elementary particles and the composition of strings, but this is not accepted by mainstream science.

cazzie's avatar

Some science seems beyond the understanding of some people. For those people, there is big foot.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Last time I checked there were not people running around the woods faking black holes. Mathematics does not support the existence of bigfoot. No tangible evidence has been scientifically documented but evidence of faking them has a long history. Black holes are regularly observed, just because we don’t know for sure what is inside them does not negate their existence which is a fact. You can choose to believe in pink fluffy unicorns but you cannot prove they exist without a body of evidence. You simply cannot think circles around objective reality and be in the right. Trying to rationalize something like the god in the bible is simply going to fail these measures. Understanding that the unknown nature of what lies beyond our universe cannot disprove that it may have been created intentionally will not fail them. It’s still in the cluster of possibilities and we cannot be certain without evidence. Now if someone produces the body of a yeti then we have something to go on, until then it’s just a myth.

Jaxk's avatar

Facts are merely the building blocks for a conclusion. Not a conclusion in and of itself. Typically it is not the facts that are in question but rather the conclusion or theory. Those Yeti tracks may just be some kid walking around in clown shoes or they may be a Yeti. The facts presented support both conclusions. We need more facts. Just because the Sun and Moon travel across the sky doesn’t mean they both orbit the Earth. You can’t pick and choose your facts, you must include all pertinent facts and even then it doesn’t prove a theory. It only makes it more or less probable.

Strauss's avatar

Facts are collected by observation. The “scientific method” is the most objective tool for observation and recording, yet it is philosophically flawed. This method assumes that reality is objective, and within that assumption, it is powerful. But what if there is no objective reality, but a set of shared subjectivities?

Mariah's avatar

Bias in science can be a problem because the measurements are often indirect and require interpretation. That’s why we have peer review and, whenever possible, studies are conducted such that there is only one major variable. With large enough sample sizes, variations between the control and experimental groups can then only be attributed to the property that was varied.

The idea of black holes faced a lot of contention in the early days, but now the evidence is nearly undeniable. Astrophysics is a tough field because the observations are made from very far away, so often we do not see an object, but we see the effect that object’s gravity has on other objects. We also have no power to alter variables and therefore conduct experiments. We rely heavily on math. Luckily, gravity and other forces that operate on a macro scale are extremely well understood. Here’s a great article on black holes that shows that they are still under contention, but that the evidence for them is extremely convincing.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central “So anything a human could have created or done is enough anti-evidence to reject any and all possibility that it might be real? Isn’t that taking personal preference over the fact before one’s eyes? What of all those people who actually seen and taken footage of UFOs (be it some very blurry), if a group of people seen something that is more or just as credible as number crunching to point out a black hole? Unless the skies are playing hoaxes on numerous people from law enforcement people, commercial pilots even astronauts.”

It isn’t a matter of rejecting any and all possibility. It’s a matter of reaching the most likely conclusion based on the available evidence. There is no evidence of Bigfoot that excludes simpler explanations. There has never, for instance, been any biological traces of a Sasquatch found. However there is ample history of people perpetrating Bigfoot hoaxes. Until there is biological evidence for Sasquatch then the most likely explanation is that someone’s playing a prank.

This has been explained to you time and time again: science never completely rules anything out or states that anything is 100% absolute. Science is reaching the most likely conclusion based on the available evidence. When new evidence comes to light the conclusion is reconsidered. Unlike religion and pseudoscience – which reach the conclusion first then cherry-pick for evidence to support that conclusion while ignoring, or denouncing any evidence that doesn’t.

cazzie's avatar

And what the facts are can be done in a capricious manner. If I choose to believe there is a yeti somewhere then I take the facts of footprints and broken branches as true fact, if I don’t, I reject the facts. If I want to believe in worm holes in space, I will believe any fact real but unprovable or manufactured to believe such, the possibility that whatever is recorded or observed could be effected by something between here and there that cannot be detected or seen. written by someone who doesn’t understand science. Jumps from footprints and broken branches to the existence of ‘Big Foot’ and compares that with the actual, observable, repeatable, checks and observations made by cosmologists, mathematicians and astrophysicists in revealing the actual existence of black holes. And now we have gravity waves,... but let’s not confuse him too much.

Are there frauds in science research? you can bet your pretty lily white bottom there is, but that is why there are peer reviews and replication studies. (Not enough people doing replications studies… Please help.)

Jaxk's avatar

Interesting story. I found a dead bird on my deck not too long ago. The obvious conclusion was that Aliens landed, captured the bird, and conducted some horrible experiments on it, killing the bird in the process. They then discarded the body onto my deck and flew off to their home planet. This conclusion is completely supported by the facts and no one has been able to disprove it. I can only assume those that don’t believe simply don’t want to believe. The conclusion seems obvious to me.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Bill1939 One only sees what they are looking for. When something seems to be evidence of what is being sought then it is likely to be taken as a fact. Should someone present contrary evidence it is likely to be rejected
Good take on it, Atta boy for you. That seems to be it in a nutshell. There have been many things believed, and by quite a range of people, that certain things were as good as gold. Using shock treatment on people were thought to be helpful at some time and many believed so because they call compared notes and had the same findings, which advance decades later, has been found incorrect. Agreeable numbers still doesn’t make right, because of you wait it out long enough, it can be as wrong as when it started.

@cazzie Some science seems beyond the understanding of some people. For those people, there is big foot.
For some redacted to prevent hijacking

@ARE_you_kidding_me No tangible evidence has been scientifically documented but evidence of faking them has a long history. Black holes are regularly observed, just because we don’t know for sure what is inside them does not negate their existence which is a fact.
The irony in that is chuckle worthy, because people have faked Bigfoot, and no other tangible evidence (or that which appears to be) is found or discovered, any actual evidence that is seen is summarily dismissed as being remotely possible of Bigfoot’s existence. But, something no one has ever laid eyes on has to be there because certain numbers line up with those believing if the numbers line up that way the unseen, unreachable, object is there. There just might be some force, whatever between here and there effecting how the situation to which these numbers are crunched but the thought of that possibility is never considered, so, the object no one has seen has to be there because the numbers say they do. If the numbers is what makes right, if a person predicted which stocks were to be winners and losers in a given quarter and was not stock savvy, if they had a 97% rate of accuracy year after year, one would have to conclude they had some sort of power, ability, etc. to foresee the market, even if one could not quantify how, but most would allude to some great span of coincidence.

@Jaxk Facts are merely the building blocks for a conclusion. Not a conclusion in and of itself. Typically it is not the facts that are in question but rather the conclusion or theory. Those Yeti tracks may just be some kid walking around in clown shoes or they may be a Yeti. The facts presented support both conclusions.
Atta boy for that part, the facts could lead to both, or even something altogether different though less thought of. But the lynch pin is the byproduct of the facts, if you simply choose not to believe in a yeti then you will go to some kid pulling a prank and never investigate the possibility that the facts are evidence of a yeti. It would be like the DA who one he has a perp, seeks all the evidence that points to the perp killing his girlfriend and other facts or evidence are tossed or take a back seat because he is not going to go to court with 5 plausible ways the young woman could have died because that may let the perp, who certainly is guilty get away with murder, but as much as it points to the boyfriend, the housekeeper could have actually done it.

Interesting story. I found a dead bird on my deck not too long ago. The obvious conclusion was that Aliens landed, captured the bird, and conducted some horrible experiments on it, killing the bird in the process. They then discarded the body onto my deck and flew off to their home planet. This conclusion is completely supported by the facts and no one has been able to disprove it
Well, if a cat or something ran off with the bird to eat it before an autopsy or toxicology report can be done on it, or there were no physical injuries observed, who said it could not have been as you say. It is a more remote theory than the bird had a heart attack and died, but without evidence of something else, no one truly can dispute that unless they just choose not to believe it.

@Mariah The idea of black holes faced a lot of contention in the early days, but now the evidence is nearly undeniable. Astrophysics is a tough field because the observations are made from very far away, so often we do not see an object, but we see the effect that object’s gravity has on other objects.
So there is zero possibility that there is something else out there in the mix that cannot be seen because of this vast distance, effecting what is observed to make what can be seen look like something it actually is not?

@Darth_Algar It isn’t a matter of rejecting any and all possibility. It’s a matter of reaching the most likely conclusion based on the available evidence.
Then scientist should come to the conclusion we are not alone and have been visited even without the benefit of shaking hands with Spock. If years of observation and seeing the same things as @Mariah allude to with black holes and gravity, applying the same to UFOs would conclude they exist. Especially with radar evidence that shows it was not a flock of birds, exceeded speeds of any manmade craft and/or maneuvered in a way no earth bound craft can perform. Those incidence where there were multiple witnesses or on a scale no one could hoax are going to be chalked up to what, the sky playing tricks on people or some massive psychosis a group of random strangers just decided to have at the same time in the same manner?

There is no evidence of Bigfoot that excludes simpler explanations. There has never, for instance, been any biological traces of a Sasquatch found. However there is ample history of people perpetrating Bigfoot hoaxes. Until there is biological evidence for Sasquatch then the most likely explanation is that someone’s playing a prank.
We always seem to come back to the tangible evidence, yet in cases of astronomy there are none, just observation which is taken as tangible evidence. If the fact that it is simple to hoax a big foot make it the most likely because now you need more and more other evidence to be convincing, the vast expanse of space who knows that lies between here and whatever, just because one cannot see or think there is nothing between here and wherever effecting what is seen or recorded doesn’t mean there isn’t, but if you endeavor to believe a certain finding, other evidence, some astronomical kid in clown shoes, will never be considered, and it might be there.

Unlike religion and pseudoscience – which reach the conclusion first then cherry-pick for evidence to support that conclusion while ignoring, or denouncing any evidence that doesn’t.
I can’t speak for all religions but I am sure some manufacture all sorts of things, but science does it share of denouncing things even if remotely plausible.

Mariah's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Well, like I said, gravity is very well understood. We can figure out how much a distant planet weighs by watching the effects it has on its moons. We can see the effects of a black hole and they match up with what we’d expect to see if there was something extremely massive/dense there imposing its gravity on all nearby objects. We have chosen to name objects that are above a certain threshold density “black holes.”

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@HC between the numbers and observations the evidence for black holes is overwhelming. Many monumental discoveries about nature were postulated with math before being observed. As evidence stacks up at some point we must accept that the numbers and observations are reflecting a real phenomena. Since you choose to equate that with something that has rather scant evidence like bigfoot shows that you need to consider how to weigh evidence more carefully. You’re just trolling as usual though.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central “Then scientist should come to the conclusion we are not alone and have been visited even without the benefit of shaking hands with Spock. If years of observation and seeing the same things as @Mariah allude to with black holes and gravity, applying the same to UFOs would conclude they exist. Especially with radar evidence that shows it was not a flock of birds, exceeded speeds of any manmade craft and/or maneuvered in a way no earth bound craft can perform. Those incidence where there were multiple witnesses or on a scale no one could hoax are going to be chalked up to what, the sky playing tricks on people or some massive psychosis a group of random strangers just decided to have at the same time in the same manner?”

Again, science is about reaching the most likely conclusion based on observable evidence, not about reaching any conclusion that even be remotely possible. Could their be other life out there in the Universe? Absolutely. But a UFO is simply a UFO – an unidentified flying object. That it is unidentified does not warrant leaping at the conclusion that it is anything not of this Earth.

Radar can be fooled by atmospheric conditions and/or other factors. This is a known phenomenon and has nearly kicked off nuclear war in the past. Thankfully the officer in question carefully considered the evidence and came to the most likely conclusion (rather than jumping at the first “obvious” conclusion).

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