Quote of the Day: Open Minded

 

“It is important to be open minded, but not so open minded that one’s brain falls out.” – Richard Feynman

I pride myself on being open-minded. Whenever I start an analysis, I start with the assumption that everything I know is wrong until I prove otherwise. That drives an open-minded approach. When facts disagree with my position, I adjust my position to match the facts. Equally, however, if the facts disagree with the position that counters my beliefs I maintain the position that matches the facts. Examples of this approach can be seen in various hot-button issues in today’s news.

Take the issue of a man claiming he is a woman. Is he a woman? (Look, this is not a new issue, especially in sports. In the 1950s-1970s there were a lot of dodgy women in Communist Olympic teams.) Does he have the genetic makeup of a woman (XX vs XY chromosomes)? What physical characteristics does he possess? A vagina or a penis? There are physical tests and examinations which can be conducted to determine the issue. Let the facts speak.

Note this does not address whether the man truly believes he is a woman. That is a different issue. After all, someone can truly believe that he is a member of the Alamo garrison who has escaped from the Mexican Army and that the fellow in a blue uniform he shot while trying to escape was a member of Santa Anna’s army and that his action was a legitimate act of war. (Assuming he can convince 12 other Texans that is what he truly believed, the end result will be a stay in the Rusk State Hospital rather than Huntsville Prison.) You can make the facts fit that.

What if you actually believe that man really was a member of the Texian Army, rather than that he believed he was? Well, I could make a good case your brain has fallen out. Similarly, if the individual born as Bruce Jenner wants to call himself Caitlyn and believe himself a woman, I am willing to call him Caitlyn and concede he does believe himself to be a woman. But that won’t change the fact that he possesses XY chromosomes.

Another example can be found in the Ukrainian War. Based on the facts pre-war, it was a reasonable expectation that Ukraine would become part of Russia within a week of the Russian Federation Army invading. If you looked at the size of the two militaries, the two countries, and the resources available prior to the war this seemed obvious.

Two days in, it became obvious that certain items presented as “facts” prior to the war were instead opinions. Two months in we have a different set of facts. The reputation of the Russian military seems to have been built on a foundation of Maskirovka, including perhaps self-deception. The capabilities of the Ukrainian army seem to have been underestimated.

That does not mean the Russian Army is worthless or Ukraine is bound to win. That is substituting sets of misconceptions. That also is being so open-minded your brain has fallen out. The Russian army is still formidable, and for Ukraine to “win” requires them to remove the Russian Army from their territory. That is possible, but it will not be easy. Then again, in February I would not have even conceded the possibility of Ukraine ejecting Russia from the territories controlled by Ukraine in January. Even today I do not see it as much more than a bare possibility. But I do intend to keep an open mind on the subject.

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  1. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Two days in it became obvious that certain items presented as “facts” prior to the war were instead opinions.

    What facts are opinions is up for debate. There are a few things that fit why what was expected hasn’t happened yet and one of those “facts“ that may be opinion is that taking over Ukraine was never the intended goal.

    But don’t mind me. Everyone already thinks my brain fell out.

    • #1
  2. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    “The problem with an ‘open mind’ is that anybody can come along and put anything in it.”

    • #2
  3. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    You had me at Feynman.

    • #3
  4. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    In law school, I had a course that examined the issues surrounding facts versus opinion (among other things).  

    The witness standing on the corner says, “The car was speeding.”  Fact?  Or Opinion?  In court, it is permitted as fact testimony.  But isn’t it really opinion?

    There is a point in there somewhere, I swear it! 

     

    • #4
  5. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    The CEO of one of the heavy equipment companies…maybe it was John Deere…was talking about decision-making and said something like:

    “You have to go into the thicket of ambiguity for a while…and then come out the other side”

    • #5
  6. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    David Carroll (View Comment):
    The witness standing on the corner says, “The car was speeding.”  Fact?  Or Opinion? 

    Opinion. 

    In court, it is permitted as fact testimony.

    It shouldn’t be. 

     

     

    • #6
  7. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    In law school, I had a course that examined the issues surrounding facts versus opinion (among other things).

    The witness standing on the corner says, “The car was speeding.” Fact? Or Opinion? In court, it is permitted as fact testimony. But isn’t it really opinion?

    There is a point in there somewhere, I swear it!

     

    In philosophy, statements with truth value are facts. If speeding is defined, then the statement “he was speeding” is a fact, but it can be true or false.

    Opinions have no truth value. The best food is raisins is opinion. “Stina says the best food is raisins” is fact.

    • #7
  8. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    In law school, I had a course that examined the issues surrounding facts versus opinion (among other things).

    The witness standing on the corner says, “The car was speeding.” Fact? Or Opinion? In court, it is permitted as fact testimony. But isn’t it really opinion?

    There is a point in there somewhere, I swear it!

     

    When I was in school, we were told that the testimony about speed from trained people, such as police officers, was usually accepted as fact, but such testimony from laymen was more problematic.

    • #8
  9. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    In law school, I had a course that examined the issues surrounding facts versus opinion (among other things).

    The witness standing on the corner says, “The car was speeding.” Fact? Or Opinion? In court, it is permitted as fact testimony. But isn’t it really opinion?

    There is a point in there somewhere, I swear it!

     

    When I was in school, we were told that the testimony about speed from trained people, such as police officers, was usually accepted as fact, but such testimony from laymen was more problematic.

    A regular person may be able to testify “factually” that someone was “speeding” if the speed limit was, say, 30, and they saw someone blazing along much faster.  Just how much “speeding” was taking place – the actual speed – would not be within their purview.

    • #9
  10. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Stina (View Comment):

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    In law school, I had a course that examined the issues surrounding facts versus opinion (among other things).

    The witness standing on the corner says, “The car was speeding.” Fact? Or Opinion? In court, it is permitted as fact testimony. But isn’t it really opinion?

    There is a point in there somewhere, I swear it!

     

    In philosophy, statements with truth value are facts. If speeding is defined, then the statement “he was speeding” is a fact, but it can be true or false.

    Opinions have no truth value. The best food is raisins is opinion. “Stina says the best food is raisins” is fact.

    So there’s false facts?

    • #10
  11. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    • #11
  12. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Chuck (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    In law school, I had a course that examined the issues surrounding facts versus opinion (among other things).

    The witness standing on the corner says, “The car was speeding.” Fact? Or Opinion? In court, it is permitted as fact testimony. But isn’t it really opinion?

    There is a point in there somewhere, I swear it!

    In philosophy, statements with truth value are facts. If speeding is defined, then the statement “he was speeding” is a fact, but it can be true or false.

    Opinions have no truth value. The best food is raisins is opinion. “Stina says the best food is raisins” is fact.

    So there’s false facts?

    I was thinking this after I made the comment… maybe it’s statements with truth value and facts are the true statements.

    Regardless, opinions can’t have a truth value because they change from person to person.

    • #12
  13. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Stina (View Comment):

    Chuck (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    In law school, I had a course that examined the issues surrounding facts versus opinion (among other things).

    The witness standing on the corner says, “The car was speeding.” Fact? Or Opinion? In court, it is permitted as fact testimony. But isn’t it really opinion?

    There is a point in there somewhere, I swear it!

    In philosophy, statements with truth value are facts. If speeding is defined, then the statement “he was speeding” is a fact, but it can be true or false.

    Opinions have no truth value. The best food is raisins is opinion. “Stina says the best food is raisins” is fact.

    So there’s false facts?

    I was thinking this after I made the comment… maybe it’s statements with truth value and facts are the true statements.

    Regardless, opinions can’t have a truth value because they change from person to person.

    There are facts which later turn out to have been untrue, but since they were once thought to be true that’s still different from opinions.

    • #13
  14. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    In law school, I had a course that examined the issues surrounding facts versus opinion (among other things).

    The witness standing on the corner says, “The car was speeding.” Fact? Or Opinion? In court, it is permitted as fact testimony. But isn’t it really opinion?

    There is a point in there somewhere, I swear it!

     

    When I was in school, we were told that the testimony about speed from trained people, such as police officers, was usually accepted as fact, but such testimony from laymen was more problematic.

    It depends.  There is a difference between giving the opinion that the car was doing approximate 35 miles an hour and an opinion that the car was obviously speeding. In Ohio, our courts have decided that determining whether a car is obviously speeding is well within the reasonable understanding of a normal person without special training.

    • #14
  15. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    In law school, I had a course that examined the issues surrounding facts versus opinion (among other things).

    The witness standing on the corner says, “The car was speeding.” Fact? Or Opinion? In court, it is permitted as fact testimony. But isn’t it really opinion?

    There is a point in there somewhere, I swear it!

     

    When I was in school, we were told that the testimony about speed from trained people, such as police officers, was usually accepted as fact, but such testimony from laymen was more problematic.

    It depends. There is a difference between giving the opinion that the car was doing approximate 35 miles an hour and an opinion that the car was obviously speeding. In Ohio, our courts have decided that determining whether a car is obviously speeding is well within the reasonable understanding of a normal person without special training.

    Yes, that was my point in #9.  Otherwise you get to where a normal person can’t testify if it was day or night, they have to be an astronomer.  Or a biologist to identify a man or a woman.  :-)

    • #15
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