Monday, October 8, 2012

Facts beliefs and myths (oh my!)

[This blog entry is for me to reference from other blogs to outline my philosophy and approach to discussion and debate. You may find it quite boring. You've been warned.]

I intend to use these terms often. If you are reading this, you probably know these definitions. I've created this blog to explain how I use them below so I don’t have to explain in detail in other blog entries.

A fact is:

  • An honest observation.
  • Something actual as opposed to invented.
  • Something concrete used as a basis for further interpretation.
  • An objective consensus on a fundamental reality that has been agreed upon by a substantial number of people.
  • Information about a particular subject.

A belief is:
Mental acceptance of a claim as truth regardless of supporting or contrary empirical evidence.

A myth is:
A commonly-held but false belief, a common misconception; a fictitious or imaginary person or thing; a popular conception about a real person or event which exaggerates or idealizes reality.

I hope there isn’t any confusion over the word fact.  It would make conversations difficult.  But whether something is a fact or not, can be subject to opinion (when people disagree).  Facts aren’t opinions but we can opine over facts (happens a lot, especially in politics).  When something can’t be proven absolutely true or false, be it due to gray area or difficulty to prove, I prefer to call this a belief.  This can be difficult for black and white thinkers (but so can rational/intellectual discussion-- just sayin’).  Everyone has a right to have beliefs, but calling them facts will naturally inspire challenge from (other) thinking people.

A belief becomes a myth if it is indeed false.  Calling something a myth is essentially calling it false.  In a discussion, this is tantamount to an accusation of lying.  With a lack of sufficient proof to disprove a belief, calling it a myth is unfair in intellectual discussion unless the argument is intended to be antagonistic.  There can be healthy and unhealthy levels of this, and I prefer to keep things open-minded yet respectful.  Ideas can be battles without being fights.  Calling something a myth is a challenge of its veracity and can be accepted as such as well.  I prefer to use this type of challenge sparingly (calling beliefs myths) when I’m at least pretty convinced of such.

I personally don’t like telling people what to think.  For the sake of discussion, I might of course ask someone to accept a premise for purposes of discussion.  If you can’t see the difference in that, please consider refraining from these discussions.  

I do however like telling people what I think. I'm doing so in hopes of hearing peoples opinions and critiques. I don't expect everyone to think the same!  That said, I feel like the word belief isn't used very often in discussions but is valuable for accepting someone's position or conjecture with less judgement or a more open mind.

I know all of this is a little pedantic.  If you wish you hadn't wasted your time getting to this point of this blog, please accept my apologies.  Be well.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Aristotle

A blog, "10 myths about beliefs".