Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Verifiability, Falsifiability, And Premises: Part 1

     First and foremost: Happy Independence Day! On July 4, 1776, the committee in Philadelphia, having already voted unanimously to rebel against the British Crown, presented the world with the two hundred most important words of political philosophy ever written:

     We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

     Either you understand and agree, or you don’t belong in these United States of America. Unfortunately, far too many persons within our national borders don’t understand them. A roughly equal number understand them but reject their sentiments. But that’s all better treated in another screed.

     Fair warning: This will be a two-part exercise. First, there’s a video:

     Yes, it’s nearly fifty minutes long. Yes, it’s about UFOs, more specifically postulated interference by UFOs in the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia (both pre- and post-Soviet). And yes, it makes numerous claims that would be extremely difficult for any ordinary layman to verify. (I haven’t even tried to do so, and I doubt that I will.)

     The exercise is simple in outline: Once you have viewed the video:

  1. Compose a set of premises that would render its claims un-falsifiable.
  2. Then compose a set of premises that would falsify those claims by the premises alone.

     As it’s Independence Day, which normally entails a lot of activities unrelated to critical thinking, I’ll cover some “solutions” to the exercise in pieces to be posted over the next two days.

     But that’s “homework,” of sorts. For today, let’s entertain a fun idea:

Why would the federal government want Americans to know, or not to know, that Earth had been visited by extraterrestrial intellects or their automated emissaries?

     Give it a few minutes’ thought. Remember to address both possibilities. I’ll be back later with some conjectures of my own.

1 comment:

Ron Olson said...

Delectable questions. Hope you're not sitting too much. I appreciate you.