RE: Mars: "Rogue" memes and the laughter curtain
Thu, 22 Jul 1999 10:13:34 -0700 [] wrote:
> I'm apparently the only person on this list who _doesn't_ know if the "Face"
> is artificial or not. Everyone else, it seems, has been there already and
> subjected the Cydonian enigmas to their own hands-on reality tests. In a
> perverse way, I envy their certainty.

Well, am I the only person on the list who doesn't know who the President of the United States is? Who doesn't know if the pyramids were built by fairies? Who doesn't know if Apollo carries the sun across the sky? Who doesn't know if the moon is there when my back is turned?

The point is, "know" is being loosely defined here. None of us "know" anything with absolute certainty (possibly barring our own consciousness, and you'd probably get an argument about that from some). We don't "know" whether the Face is artificial by that standard, nor do we know any of the other items I listed above. So you are not alone, if that is the standard by which you use the word "know".

On the other hand if you use a more pragmatic standard, meaning some level of certainty, then you may or may not be more likely to believe that the Face is artificial than other list members. What you would have to say is, what are the chances, in your mind, that the Face is artificial? And what is the threshold beyond which you will say, for convenience and practicality, that you "know" something is true.

(I get into arguments with my wife about this. She'll say she "knows" something is true if she's about 95% sure of it, from what I can judge. I reserve it for maybe 99% or even 99.5% or so. If I am only 95% sure of something, I'll say it's very probably true, or I'm almost certain it's true.)

Maybe rather than going on about how open-minded you are because you are willing to accept that the Face may be artificial, you can simply say how likely you think it is to be artificial. Other list members may then wish to chime in with their own quantitative estimates, and you can have a more meaningful discussion.