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Re: Facts - an attempted definition WAS: Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Not In Our Name

Astute observations, Garold. Especially in the context of a
"wicked problem".    (01)

A corrolary observation is that while "appeal to authority" is
an invalid tool from the standpoint of rigidly precise logic, it
is at the same time an *invaluable* tool in virtually every form
of human endeavor.    (02)

Top-level decision makers "listen to the experts". They have to.
In new situations, they listen to several experts. The goal of the
exercise is to gain the information and "gut feeling" necessary
to decide which experts they will choose to trust.    (03)

That's the way buildings get architected, the way plumbing is
installed and, fundamentally, the way civilization is built.    (04)

It is a big plus that present-day collaboration and purchasing
tools are using "reputation systems" to expedite decision making.
Despite its flaws, it's the only practical methodology available
to solve the problem of "the amount of information I need to
acquire in order to make an informed decision in each of my
areas of concern".    (05)

"Garold (Gary) L. Johnson" wrote:    (06)

> Since we all operate in a state of insufficient information, identifying
> anything as truly incontrovertible is not really possible. The best we can
> do is to get to a place where our level of confidence in the proposition is
> such that we are willing to treat is as "true" instead of fully qualifying
> the proposition at all times. Any "fact" of merit is subject to being shown
> to be less than totally correct as a result of further evidence.
> Since the amount of information that we can get about the world by our own
> observation is limited, we are also constrained, sooner or later, to have to
> choose what source or sources of information we are going to accept as being
> most nearly correct in any given case. It isn't pretty, but it is true.
> This is why it is so important to be able to backtrack to sources if there
> is a strong need to evaluate statements effectively. When some study is
> reported, there are all sorts of issues that we need to examine before we
> can say that the results are "facts" in this broader sense:
> * Who did the study?
> * What are their credentials in this area?
> * Are there any conflicts of interest or hidden agendas here?
> * Was the reporting correct, complete, and in context?
> * . . .
> The tools that we should develop should support asking these sorts of
> questions.
> Absolute certainty is not possible, but something approximating full
> disclosure should be.    (07)