“Since the question of falsifiability has cross-disciplinary value, it is a question that we should ask not only of our theological opinions, but also our political and medical and economic opinions”

"This brings me to another question of discernment, viz., the question of falsifiability, or, 'What would it take to change my mind?'" - Snoeberger

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

A bit more from this excellent post.

Our pride renders us incapable of engaging in self-criticism, of accepting constructive criticism and evidences, and of admitting our mistakes once they are exposed. In time, we convince ourselves of our own errors, demonize those who disagree, and become willing to lay aside not only the rule of Law and civic responsibility, but also the Law of God and ecclesiastical responsibility in order to preserve personal sovereignty. 

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Don Johnson's picture

I attempted to give this answer on the site, but I couldn't tell if it was accepting my comment or not, so I'll post it here:

Mark, you appear to be arguing against this proposition: "And if the only answer I can muster is, “It’s a conspiracy that I will eventually be able to prove,” then I probably need to do some rethinking, or at a very minimum, collect some more evidence."

If that were the ONLY possible position for those opposed to masks, shutdowns, etc, you might have a point. But I think you are aware that isn't the only proposition that lies behind criticisms of the policies. Thus, I think your argument fails.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I don't think masks is the point. The point is that if one holds to a position that is not falsifiable, because it's only based on a conclusion already drawn independently of facts (conspiracy theory that will supposedly eventually proved), it's not a valid position.

It would apply to quite a few positions popular on Twitter and Facebook etc. these days.

So it's about discernment. There are just some examples in there to help make it more concrete.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

The question of falsifiability is probably best phrased in a proverb I learned a bit back; if you can't prove it wrong, you generally cannot prove it true.  This was a big part in a court's rejection of the work of Michael Behe--the judge did not perceive a way that Behe's hypothesis of irreducible complexity could be refuted.

The irony is that it didn't take me very long to figure out a response--if you demonstrate that complexity is reducible, or that irreducible complexity is not a high statistical barrier to occurrence, you've effectively falsified the hypothesis.  Keep in mind that you can still believe a hypothesis at the same time you describe how it could be disproven.  

Regarding the example Mark gives, yes, those who are convinced that anti-COVID measures are indeed the camel's nose in the tent to a new world order do need to be challenged on how they could be persuaded that this is not, indeed, the case.  A good starting point is Hanlon's Razor--never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.  Fauci et al might be simply speaking from their medical training that does not see "the way it is now is not how it has to be." 

It's a very common error any number of brilliant people fall into--a great example being the fall of Kodak into bankruptcy because they saw themselves as a film company and not a company that helped people image their lives.  They therefore failed to adequately productize the very digital imaging technology they'd invented.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

I don't think masks is the point. The point is that if one holds to a position that is not falsifiable, because it's only based on a conclusion already drawn independently of facts (conspiracy theory that will supposedly eventually proved), it's not a valid position.

It would apply to quite a few positions popular on Twitter and Facebook etc. these days.

So it's about discernment. There are just some examples in there to help make it more concrete.

But I re-read his piece, and his point is still not that clear to me

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

Don, perhaps a good way of clarifying is to see Mark's column this way:

If we see a situation as "this is a conspiracy that we'll get around to proving sometime", we have a deficiency with our logic.  Note; Mark's statement is simply about the case in which a person actually believes that, and does not preclude other people approaching the matter differently.  That noted, I know a few people who do basically approach that matter exactly as Mark states.

Mark then notes that a great way of checking our logic and flagging mental errors is to ask the question of how one might prove one's hypothesis wrong.  Does that make a bit more sense?

 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.