Kemo's Church

Fact and Theory 
Welcome back my brothers and sisters! Words are symbols that represent intellectual concepts. Communication depends on a reciprocal understanding and agreement on the relationships between words and concepts.

So if things are bad, how do we get by? The answer is simple. We have a marvelous reactive neural system for killing tigers (or each other) and solving the day to day survival problems, the tenacity for surviving harsh environments (be they social or climate) and enough of us have enough kids to more than make up for the losses (the excess children being another human idiocy). An intellectual creature by nature?
 
To sum it up: the human is a survival creature with a very weak intellect and a very strong set of instincts.
 
And that's why we have wars, poverty, hunger, neural disease, bigotry, terrorists, criminals, greedy self-centered leaders, and the list is endless. As a species, we'd like to get rid of this stuff. To do so can't be business as usual. The first thing we must do is to recognize the frailty of the mechanism that we must use.
 
Anyone who believes for an instant that any human is capable of creating
truth in its own mind without reference to reality is a dangerous fool.
 
It has been said that it is a poor worker who blames the sharpness of his tools. So how does an artisan use a defective and inadequate tool? The answer is: very carefully.
 
What is Fact?
 
The validity of a fact (concept, theory) as used as basis in a particular argument is a matter of judgement. The utility of a fact extends through the argument and becomes a portion of the argument conclusion (solution). The truth of the conclusions of an argument can not exceed the truth contained in the basic premises.
 
A fact is a statement used in a particular context that can't be refuted through physical evidence within that context. The statement "The earth is flat." is factual if the context of the problem concerns building a street through a village. It is not factual if the context of the problem concerns laying out a great circle path for a long distance aircraft flight.
 
The statement "Water is wet." holds up quite well for drinking, bathing or floating a boat. It fails miserably if the temperature is above boiling or below freezing. 

"One plus one equals two." is only true under certain special circumstances, such as two glasses of water at the same temperature, under the same atmospheric pressure, etc., but is quite a useful concept within those restrictions. It is not necessary to "know all there is to know" about something in order to declare it a fact. It is only necessary to prove sufficient knowledge within the context of that particular argument.
 
Care must be taken, however, when an argument is a segment in an overall argument of a much larger context. In this case, the facts used as basis in any sub-argument, must be true over the entire context of the overall argument. This is the major logical trap in the segmentation of complex arguments, especially in cultural concepts.
 
The example of "The earth is flat." is useful only within its limited context. It fits the design of the aircraft hangar, for example, but if it should be extended to and become a part of the calculation of the great circle path for the aircraft to fly then it becomes an erroneous premise leading to an erroneous conclusion.
 
There is a practical argument against allowing "too much knowledge" about a fact or theory. Newtonian physics, for example, is considerably modified by Einstein's relativity. If one is planning a trip to Alpha Centauri at half light speed then the concepts of space/time/mass modification due to the effects of relativity must be taken into account. In terms of an earth bound trip, the extra and unnecessary complication of relativity calculations could add considerably to the asset cost of the trip.
 
A fact or theory must have real basis. It must be observable in some way. The more observations that exist which are supportive, the more observable it is and the more confidence exists in its truth. However, no matter how many supporting observations exist, the fact ceases to be one as long as a single unexplained observation to the contrary exists.
 
This definition also limits the facts that may be used as premises for an argument. It specifically denies and forbids the use of an intangible premise. Logic and reason make no sense when based on such premises.

A basis for useful knowledge, therefore, lies in the following four statements:

1. The universe is real.
2. The earth is real.
3. Life is real.
4. The human is real.
 
Solution to any problem is dependent on the underlying knowledge. If there is insufficient knowledge, one may never be sure about the truthfulness of any conclusions drawn.
 
The human brain is far from a perfect device. Most people will be able to survive with the one they received. A few will not. A very few others provide all of the invention and leadership. Though quite error prone, the human brain can be quite useful if held under strict control. Left to its own devices, driven only by the human base instincts, it produces a dangerous clod, a human that is more a part of the problem than the solution.

So we have a complex problem (species survival) and a makeshift tool (the human brain) we must use to solve it.

Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7)
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