3.c.6 – How to recognize bad falsehoods?

Read 1136 times.
April 7, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

How to recognize bad falsehoods?

The fact that our knowledge is normally based on false beliefs must not lead us to underestimate the dangers of negative falsehood, i.e. of those falsehoods based on totally wrong and misleading concepts, because in those cases, to follow the false trail will always lead to a damage. For example, if today we persist in believing in ancient superstitions according to which diseases depend from the stars or on the guilt of an individual, we would certainly prevent to save many thousands of lives every year; the same way, if we continue to believe that the people should be governed by an aristocracy of nobles, it means to promote a long list of social injustices.
When our system of beliefs loses its effectiveness, we pass from a functional knowledge, although approximate, to a dangerous superstition, a pollution whose psychological effects are always negative and sometimes can be even disastrous. How can we recognize the harmful beliefs, then? An accurate examination of facts, such as that provided by the scientific method, allows to identify the limits of our knowledge: when it no longer reflects the objective evidence of the facts, it means that we have digressed in a context where our knowledge is no longer valid.
As centuries of absurd beliefs have shown, to recognize the evidence of facts is not always a simple thing; so much so that in science were created stringent procedures for this purpose: the observations must be independent from the person who observes and should be repeated by various individuals, in order to eliminate individual errors; unfortunately, in some cases, even this hasn’t been sufficient and after many years we have had to admit the mistake; this is the case of the studies in support of the superiority of white over black, or of the ancient physiognomy that stated that it is possible to deduct the psychological characteristics of an individual by the features of his face.
While the scientific method is based on observations, our system of individual beliefs, formed in large part on culture, is based on information. The analogy between scientific and personal research is that the observations can be seen as the means to obtain information from nature: as more observations will be strict and accurate, the more information obtained by them will be reliable. Following this analogy, we must also assess very carefully the information that we receive and then build our image of the world.
Information is the fundamental building block of culture, to be interpreted, organized and stored to be used in the future. Not all the pieces of information, however, contribute to the formation of culture: if someone tells us what time is, we certainly obtain an information, but do not enrich our cultural heritage; culture also is not a simple accumulation of information, because these are interpreted by our personal re-processing, in turn influenced by the existing culture. Anyway our world view and our culture in general are based on the information that our mind is receiving either by direct experience or from our fellow men; if we receive the wrong information, it is inevitable that the effectiveness of our mental map is undermined.
Assessing the reliability of the information is therefore a key priority for protecting the value of knowledge; every argument is based on the assumptions made: if these are not true or are incomplete, the conclusions that we reach are unreliable and sometimes absurd; even our interpretations of the information must be consistent with the objective evidence of the facts of our daily lives; when we face conclusions at odds with reality, like the one in which women cannot compete with men at school, we must have the courage to do self-criticism and review our beliefs.
When the facts observed are incompatible with our beliefs, we must doubt to be victims of a psychological pollution that can be caused by an error in the information or in the interpretation and sometimes in both of them.




pillola   n. 30 – I SELVAGGI CREDULONI I Selvaggi Creduloni

lampadina   HOW TO REGISTER?

 iperindice  HIPERINDEX

previous                                          next >


2 Comments to “3.c.6 – How to recognize bad falsehoods?”

  1. polymyositis and pregnancy…

    3.c.6 – How to recognize bad falsehoods? | Ofelon…

  2. publicize says:


    3.c.6 – How to recognize bad falsehoods? | Ofelon…

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Ofelon project utilizes a Creative Common license
Creative Commons License