Rodney

Let us reject “evidence-based” as a goal or standard

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There are two seemingly irreproachable ideas Objectivists need to disavow entirely, even though at first glance they look to be in accordance with AR’s thought: “fact-based” and “evidence-based.” They are actually anti-concepts used to skirt around the necessity to address fundamental questions.

According to these notions, any controversy can be settled, and any decision made, by whomever “has the facts straight” and whomever “bases himself on the evidence.”

Some might ask, “What could possibly be wrong with facts and evidence?” The answer is that the usages of these notions ignore the whole category of truths that would tell you what facts are relevant to a question and what are the limits of their usefulness. Of course, such basic truths would be facts also—but notice how often the facts/evidence mantra is invoked in order to undermine the arguments of anyone who is suspected of operating from a principled point of view.

It is said that the best way to understand and better appreciate a thinker with whom you disagree is to find out what he was rebelling against. Something similar is true for understanding and rejecting a mode of argument, even if it has nice-sounding names.

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In political debates, such as the one on gun control, many people—on both sides—cite statistics that seem to support their position. Often, one side generally calls this being “evidence-based” as opposed to “ideological.”

But the problem with this tactic is that correlation is not causation, and your interpretation of any given set of numbers is inexorably guided by your intellectual framework. Any number of factors other than the one you are correlating might be influencing the numerical outcome.

That is why both sides can cite statistics that seem to dictate a conclusion.

So the solution is to “be ideological,” that is, to guide your thoughts about what is important and causative by your wider views on human interaction. The question then becomes: Whose views on the nature of man and human action and interaction are the reality? Then you will get to the heart of the matter, and may find that one side of the debate is focusing on irrelevant numbers—or perhaps that both are.

The lesson is that one must think in terms of philosophic principles, and fundamental human nature, and choose sides according to that—and not try to be “evidence-based.” But of course, one side knows that would be deadly to their stance, and trumpets its “evidence” while proclaiming the impotence of philosophy—”ideology.”

 

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I should add that the above is a call for Objectivists to ban the terms “fact-based” and “evidence-based” entirely from their vocabulary of persuasion.

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On ‎1‎/‎15‎/‎2018 at 3:10 PM, Rodney said:

I should add that the above is a call for Objectivists to ban the terms “fact-based” and “evidence-based” entirely from their vocabulary of persuasion.

I liked the character “Data” from Star Trek TNG, Spock, and all the Vulcans. I noticed that in many instances the “human” scientists would harbor some flaw in their modes of thinking which was usually emotionally inspired or it was more specifically from a traumatic experience in their lives. It’s always fun to try and imitate a Vulcan when you converse.  

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