Re: Opinions as Evidence

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 26 Mar 1997 14:22:18 -0800 (PST)

> >Doesn't this treat "evidence" as if it were a continuous quantity?
> >As if it just piles up in front of each theory to give it weight (in
> >fact, the very phrase "weight of evidence" assumes this). ...
> Yes. Relative weight of evidence = log likelihood ratio, which adds.
> These comments suggest to me that you are simply ignorant of the vast
> literature on the relations between theory and evidence.

Ignorant of it or just not impressed by it? "Your comments, Copernicus,
suggest that you are ignorant of the vast scholarly literature on the
central place of Earth in the heavens."

I invest my valuable time studying those fields that have been shown
to me to be most useful to my understanding of the nature of things:
evolution, game theory, economics, physics, philosophy, etc. If I
have missed any works that you consider vital, it is because they have
not convinced me (or those whose opinions I do value) that they are
worth the time.

> Of course evidence varies in strength. If you happen to have
> available a particularly strong peice of evidence which no one else
> has yet seen, then of course this may outweigh all else. But what if
> all those experts have seen this new experiment and their opinions
> have not much changed. The question then is: how sure are you that
> you have not missed or misunderstood some aspect of the experiment
> that seems to you to offer such strong support?

Why do you simply refuse to accept the fact that in all periods of human
history, the vast hordes of people--including the best minds of each
generation--were simply wrong about most things? It doesn't mean that
they were irrational, necessarily. Aristotle was a brilliant man in
his time, and those who chose to accept his ideas did relatively well
compared to those who did not. But nonetheless, almost everything they
believed was wrong in significant ways.

> But you are just as likely to object to this common practice out of
> fear, predispositions, etc. If anyone anywhere is actually looking at
> relevant evidence with some understanding, why is it so much more
> likely to be just you, rather than some influential fraction of these
> billions?

That's a fair question; you're right, I might possibly be predisposed
or fearful as well. This is a judgment I simply have to make. How do
I judge my own ability to evaluate evidence as compared to others? As
it happens, I honestly believe that I am more capable of reliable
evaluation of evidence than almost everyone I have ever met or read.
That's a personal evaluation, from personal experience, so it is hard
to justify to others, especially those accustomed to deference to
authority (or authorities themselves, like the doctor I once fired).
But it is an evaluation I make without reservation.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>  <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC