What Is First-Hand Evidence?

I often hear academics lack common sense.  They might reply real thinking involves getting rid of it, or that common sense is just the ability to believe the Earth is flat (they are wrong on both counts in part).  Observation though, is much more difficult than most suppose.  Looking at micro-expression as a means to tell whether people are telling the truth, one discovers some people can’t even see them.  It takes years to get undergraduates to be able to take reliable measurements and we fail with most of them.  Most people can’t do basic science and are even worse at critical reasoning.  This is my opinion from years of teaching around the world – I’d add that substantial numbers seem to have acquired these skills from work in their own lives without university.  This is the opinion though, not the first hand evidence.

It’s actually very difficult to establish the real evidence, and sometimes this is a very theoretical matter.  This isn’t helped by theoretical blather (statistical manipulation etc.) being used to establish false cases or just distract from what could otherwise be obvious.  The Catch 22 is that this is intellectually a very difficult area and that most of us are not much good at being intellectual -let alone that we cannot trust people being intellectual to be honest, not least as they are usually bought and paid for like lawyers.

One intellectual aspect of getting to evidence involves finding out what is commonly wrong with apparently contested positions.  The classic is Einstein’s reformulation of kinematics to move on from disparities between Maxwell’s laws and the results of the best experiments available then. The existing kinematics was common to both sides and was what was causing the problems.

My grandson and his mates currently make many mistakes they would not if they could listen to my boring old fart experience – such as turning up to watch Toy Story 3 having blagged a fiver from relevant responsible adults like me, only to find it is a 3-D performance and £6.70plus goggles to get in, advice to check having been ignored.  There is much reason to listen to experience,but we should not confuse it with first-hand evidence.  It may still only be the experience of idiots.  We forget this too readily when claiming experience, and the long history of collective clown ‘reasoning’ by all kinds of groups, including intellectuals who have elevated all kinds of dross to Bildung over human history.

What is remarkable about most claims to experience is how parochial they are.  This does not mean we should not collect them, but they are claims to experience not first-hand evidence.  ‘Professionals’ have made all kinds of claims to success under ZPF Nulabour we know to be false when subjected to public scrutiny.

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7 thoughts on “What Is First-Hand Evidence?

  1. I really do doubt that ‘common sense’ can actually be taught by education, either by parents or professionals.

    My belief, confirmed by personal first hand experiences, is that people either have good degree of common sense, or they don’t. I’m certain that it is something people are born with, and no amount of ‘instruction’ will provide the missing component. However, after many years of learning through their own silly mistakes, they may aquire an understanding of what is commonly held to be ‘sensible’.

    One of my sprogs, an academic, uni education, had very little common sense, but has improved a little with age. It could well be down to how ‘grounded’ a person is, in reality. I believe this may also have something to do with the time of birth, and whether or not there are any planets in earth signs in someone’s astrological chart.

    There is someone at present in politics, at the top, who has no strong ‘earthy’ and grounding aspects in their chart, which is a bit of a concern to say the very least!

    Some people who spend a great deal of time reading, studying and thinking deeply, may be over using their intellect, without the necessary grounding balance of physical mundane activity, like gardening etc. Reality!

    Just my observations……

  2. There’s a lot to agree with there Intel – whether it is right or not! Philosophers since Aristotle have declared there are no absolute moral standards and then proceeded as if there were. I don’t go for the astrology, but go for the gardening.
    Practice is often a murky business. IQ (which has a lot of problems as a ‘measure of intelligence’varies a lot across racial groups and huge correlation with exposure to chronic illnesses, yet to mention the differences raises trite racist slurs. To say most people are not good at critical reasoning or can’t do science is often heard as ‘trying to make out the person saying it is a smart-arse’. We need to get beyond a lot that underpins ‘beat the other up’ argument.
    It is clear from lecturing that most students can’t really do university level work, but collapsing standards as we have doesn’t seem the appropriate response. The idea once was to try to make studying more practical, but that got killed off under financial pressure and maybe because most academics are only suited to classroom work.

  3. Of course I am right here! I tend not to state something is so unless I know that it is. I suspect that you really enjoy having a debate and often “play the devil’s advocate”.

    When a chart is cast by a good astrologer, from the time of a person’s birth, it can provide a very accurate insight into the character traits, talents and interests of a person, and also their weakness. Or to put it another way, astrology can reveal people’s strong points and areas where they are not so strong and could cause a problem for them. But yes, gardening is good for the soul.

    I think that most reasonable people will realise and accept, that we are not all at the same level regarding IQ. I know that I do, but some may well feel intimidated by those who are obviously very brainy, with degrees.

    I really don’t know very much about Philosophers, so I cannot debate with you on that subject. However, I’m sure that many spiritual teachings provide moral guidance!

    There will always be those who are more gifted academically than others, but the latter will have something they too are good at. Viva la difference!

  4. I don’t know much about that personally Allcoppedout…..

    Except for hearing a worrying tale about a group of fanatical so called ‘Christian’ males who believe that every word of Revelation in the Bible is true, which it isn’t. I heard that those fanatics think that they will be doing God’s will if they bring about ‘the end of the world’ by nuclear war, and meanwhile they believe that killing women they think are slappers, is also God’s will.

    Come to think of it, the Muslim extremists hold similar views. They are all deluded and misguided into doing bad instead of good deeds and living peacefully on earth with everyone else.

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