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Re: [ontolog-forum] [ontology-summit] Estimating number of all known fac

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 25 May 2012 14:00:59 -0700
Message-id: <B9DACD6177694705BD645BEA7BEDC734@Gateway>

John F Sowa wrote:

On 5/25/2012 2:16 PM, Chris Menzel wrote:

> Of course, the very fact that recorded histories are often full of

> *lies* implies that the actual historical *truths* are being ignored or

> distorted. No grist for the anti-realist's mill here. Move along. :-)


This is a circular argument.  First you assert that you believe there are such things as actual historical “truths” implying “facts”, and then you rely on your own assertion to further claim that they (if they exist at all) “are being ignored or distorted”.  Sounds illogical to me.  Your belief train is circular. 


I very strongly agree.


That isn’t surprising:


The following claim is at the level of a joke on a late-night talk show:


    "History is the lie that historians agree on."


It has enough appearance of truth to get a laugh from the audience.


You practiced de minimus here – the Thingular equivalent of ad hominem.  None of the above is factual; it is all your opinion not a clear logical refutation of the publicly subscribed belief system that the late-night shows you watch are laughed at by what you called “the great unwashed” in an earlier post. 


I object to the rhetorical and unsupported nature of your claim and find that you have posted no compelling evidence, just your opinion which you appear to be wedded to like “the chrome on a trailer hitch” as Kenny Rogers once said in a different context.  Since you believe your own assertions, you are reasoning circularly by taking that approach. 


Believing your own assertions and making conclusions from them is the source of much error. 


But anybody who has read any history beyond what is approved by

the local school board quickly learns


  1. Many statements are firmly grounded on facts, but any

     statement can be questioned on some detail.


Actually, every statement can be questioned on many levels of detail.  It’s those same school boards that “protect” the public from “erroneous” “facts” and interpretations, i.e., the ones that threaten their political hold on parents, teachers and students.  Those ARE the “authoritative historians” you mentioned. 


  2. Historians take great delight in exposing the errors of

     other historians.


Unlike logicians?  They agree with other logicians who revel in the same bathwater. 


  3. Every history book, even the most carefully and most honestly

     researched and written, omits or misinterprets many facts.


That should be obvious from the well known fact that reality has a much larger bandwidth than any book, video or medium of any kind.  There are millions of facts that COULD have been added to the book, but it is the filtering of the “authoritative historians” that selects the very small slice of asserted “facts” that are actually reported.  The vast majority of history remains forever unwritten. 


  4. New discoveries are constantly being made that force a review and

     reinterpretation of many of the most widely believed statements

     by many of the most authoritative historians of the past.


So this proves that “many of the most widely believed statements” are not correct (instead, these are the lies that historians agreed on at the time) and must be re”interpreted” by those later “authoritative historians” claiming the side of objective unbiased truth against all those “great unwashed” who have the temerity to interpret for themselves their experiences and histories? 


I would think that the inevitable “new discoveries” are made by reinterpretation immediately PRIOR to those “reviews and reinterpretations” … by said later “authoritative historians” of the present.  Why should they, even further removed from the firehose bandwidth of history, be any more right than the earlier “authoritative historians”?  By your reasoning, still later historians will “take great delight in exposing the errors of still other historians”, i.e. the current crop of “authoritative historians”.


See James Burke’s excellent documentary series “The Day the Universe Changed” and/or “Connections” which show how flagellant and fickle history actually is.  He traces the sequence of beliefs held by historians, scientists, politicians and merchants – every separable distinction among people – and shows how irrelevant the sequence is to any unbiased absolute objective truth you can draw a boundary around. 


  5. But a great deal of what was considered dubious in old histories

     (going back to Herodotus, for example) is often corroborated

     by new evidence dug up by archaeologists.


After said reinterpretation, Atlantis is now believed by certain “authoritative historians” to actually have been located in a Minoan island culture that was wiped out by a volcano on Santorini in the “Mediterranean” (aka “Middle of the Earth”).  The tsunami that followed did final damage to the Minoan culture, according to the said “authoritative historians” whose reinterpretation will be in future reinterpreted yet again. 


Summary:  There are facts, even about history, and it is possible

to find new evidence about any time period that can corroborate,

revise, or improve our understanding of the past, recent or ancient.




But said “facts” are merely the reports of individuals and the “interpretations by authoritative historians” differ only in being written down by different reporting subjective interpreters.  And who is the “our” that “understand” the past?  We have a different culture, and very few concepts of our present culture can map both completely and well onto the concepts of previous or future cultures.  So “reinterpretation” is a continuing iterative process that will never stop.  But that doesn’t mean the later reinterpretations are any more correct the earlier ones.  That is James Burke’s main theme of the documentary series.  Later reinterpretations are simply more acceptable to the culture in which the reinterpretations are to some extent believed. 


Perhaps you are watching too many late night shows. 




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