Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Principle of Belief Conservation

The Principle of Belief Conservation states that we cannot hold a belief to be true that requires us to reject too many other beliefs that we already know to be true. To accept a supernatural universe one would have to reject known truths about a natural universe. This is irrational.

Steve via thedregs


Norman Ruthfred said...

Do you believe, that Science is the only source of absolute knowledge?

Dominic said...

I don't believe science is a source of absolute knowledge.

For a start, it relies on statistical probabilities. For example, when a scientist claims that a drug cures a disease, it is rare for the drug to work in 100% of cases - scientific results are based on confidence intervals.

In case you think this is just a problem in the life sciences, it also applies to physics. Some phenomena are so elusive that they can only be defined at all using probabilities, such as the location of an electron in space at a given moment, which is so elusive that it is uncertain whether an electron is mass or a wave of energy.

Then there is the problem of the subject/viewer - the viewer cannot view/experience the phenomenon without modifying it.

I believe this assumption that science delivers absolute truth is a mistake that has been propagated since the 18th century, and was only in the postmodern era that people realised en mass that science is so fallible.

Also, I don't believe there is any source of absolute knowledge. We all view the world from our subjective point of view, and like eye witnesses to a crime, none of us describe it the same way. Absolute knowledge is an illusion (partly) created by governments and corporations in the form of metanarratives to further their own interests, rather than letting people engage in the construction of their own knowledge/truth. Groups like the Critical Theorists of the Frankfurt School wrote about this, if you want to read more.