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To be confused about what is different and what is
Critical and Purposive Thinking
First, a little fundamental philosophy: the essence of all perceivable and−to my mind−conceivable reality involves some combination of change, limits, discontinuity, definition, contrast, and irreversibility. We experience, perceive or apprehend the differences of things−tangible and intangible. For instance, if every tangible thing that we cast our eyes upon was the same color and shade, we would see nothing. If there were only one unvarying sound or tone of the same intensity, we would hear nothing. So it would be with the senses of smell, taste and tactile feeling. We rely upon our five physical senses to perceive the changes or discontinuities of the physical realm to give us our experience of physical reality.
And so it is in the intangible, intellectual (spiritual) realm. If we do not apprehend and appreciate the differences in various aspects of our intellectual or non-material reality, our thinking is foggy, muddled or lacking in clarity so that we can be confused to the point of thinking or concluding inaccurately. As a significant example, a discipline in our modern world known as Information Theory made important and useful distinctions between data, facts, information, and knowledge.
There are also important and basic differences between para-normal claims, scientific theories, historical reconstructions, and philosophical paradigms; and there are critical differences between the criteria that necessarily be applied to the reasonable evaluation of their validity or correctness. We will be at sea if we do not realize these differences and deal with them accordingly.
The above types of proposals are so much blather, hot air−are meaningless−until it somehow becomes important to evaluate them to the point of accepting or rejecting their correctness and thereby necessarily relying on the correctness of our acceptance or rejection. And, if we accept any such proposal to the point of relying on it in any important way, we have essentially added that particular understanding to our "knowledge."
In understanding the differences in our proposal trio, it is useful to recognize that there are primarily four categories or types of knowledge that pertain to these issues. These can be listed as:
1) Intrinsic: Intrinsic knowledge is a kind of "hard wired" or intuitive knowledge that can still be further developed as time goes on. Intrinsic knowledge shows up in rationality and the application of logic, allows us to know how to learn. Intrinsic knowledge is internal, and is the most reliable or trustworthy knowledge that we have.
2) Sensory Sensory knowledge is simple perception which comes directly from the five senses that we don't normally question. Sensory knowledge is personal, dependent upon intrinsic knowledge, and takes a minimum of interpretation.
3) Evidential: Evidential knowledge is composed of personally experienced evidence which implies conclusions reached beyond a reasonable doubt. With this type of knowledge we sense or address the evidence directly but not the thing itself, and this knowledge is less reliable than that based on experience because it overwhelmingly relies upon interpretation. Evidential knowledge has an external source, and is significantly less reliable than intrinsic or sensory knowledge.
4) Experiential: Experiential knowledge is composed of perhaps prolonged personal life experiences that have come in a series of learning situations. It is always a personal mix of beliefs and other knowledge that takes a maximum of interpretation, yet it can be the most meaningful knowledge that we have. The validity of this knowledge is conditional on the validity of the personal interpretation.
5) Consentual: Consentual knowledge is composed of knowledge that others have shared that we consent to hold because we trust (rightly or wrongly) in the person or source passing on this externally derived knowledge. Often the consent is given based purely on the lack of any reason not to trust and should always be held with skepticism. Consentual knowledge can be broken down further into three meaningful categories:
a. That based on other's intrinsic, sensual, evidential, and experiential knowledge and interpretation.
b. That based on other's consentual knowledge.
c. That based on other's beliefs, opinions, estimations, imaginations, misinterpretations, fantasies, falsities, misunderstandings, neuroses, and psychoses.
Consentual knowledge is the most prevalent and voluminous in our knowledge base but the least reliable, and it is staggering to realize to what extent we have incorporated consentual knowledge by what may be uncritical consent. There would be a lot more humility and much less acrimony if the popularizers and promoters of scientific dogma were aware of the proportion of the consentual component in their "knowledge base."
A paranormal claim is considered paranormal precisely because there is a normal or reasonable doubt as to whether the phenomenon actually happened, happens, or can happen. A para-normal claim is not the same as a para-normal explanation for an event or phenomenon that is not in doubt. Let us remember that any situation or event that is on the extremes of the normal distribution curve looks para-normal and can invite a "paranormal" explanation."
A "scientific" theory, if it is not going to morph into a philosophical paradigm, must restrict itself to an explanation of observable phenomena. A Black Hole is not an observable phenomenon, it is just one among other explanations for observable phenomena.
Einstein's Theory of Relativity is not so much a scientific theory as it is a materialistic or "scientific" paradigm. But it has elements that violate our most basic logic. Roger Penrose's Tensor Theory and David Bohm's Holographic Universe are examples of other scientific or philosophical paradigms.
In the realm of knowledge, scientific theories, paranormal claims and historical reconstructions−hereinafter called proposals−should be subject to what the acronym FLIPPERS stands for.
Falsifiability - It must be possible to conceive that the proposal could prove to be false. If it cannot be conceived as false then the proposal is not saying anything significant or meaningful. Furthermore, it must be possible to devise ways to test the validity of the proposal before it can be considered worthwhile to consider it.
Logicality - Any argument offered in support of a proposal must be logically sound.
Integrity - The critical data or evidence offered in support of a proposal must be factual or true and complete, while the selection of the evidence must be honest, open and unprejudiced, i.e., non-fudged.
Predictability - Any proposal must offer some implied and inferred predictions, which can be checked. Extraordinary predictions which are verified are generally considered as having substantial weight in evaluation.
Productivity - Any valid proposal must have an aspect of productivity or meaningfulness to it, in that some implied and inferred benefit or usefulness would construe in its adoption.
Extensiveness - The evidence offered in support of any proposal must be exhaustive−that is, all of the significant available evidence must be included for consideration with none deliberately left out.
Replicability - Any experimental results garnered under replicable conditions and offered in support of the proposal must be replicable. Furthermore, empirical data and evidence gathered from one situation or locale should be consistent with or buttressed by other comparable data and evidence gathered from a different situation or locale. Except for historical reconstructions, total reliance upon historical or non-replicable evidence at least tends to reduce the worth or validity of the proposal.
Sufficiency - The evidence offered in support of any proposal must be adequate to establish the validity beyond an agreed upon reasonable doubt, with these stipulations:
(1) The burden of proof for any proposal should rest primarily on the claimant(s).
(2) Extraordinary proposals demand extraordinary evidence.
(3) Proposal evidence based upon authority and/or testimony is always inadequate by itself.
If the proposal being offered cannot meet or satisfy the above criteria, it must be considered to be either invalid, or inadequate, or at least primarily in the realm of dogma, opinion or an unsubstantiated possibility instead of being useful or in the realm of knowledge.