Saturday, August 28, 2010

Truth and Accuracy 101, Part One of Three

There are any number of methods that can be used to gather information that will assist a person in forming an accurate evaluation of any given situation or subject matter. The first step of any of these methods is that the person develop a sincere desire to find the truth. They must be willing.

Truth is defined as conformity to fact or actuality. The sincere truth seeker must therefore have a willingness to review and weigh a diverse variety of information if it is credible and presented in a competent manner, even if it may sometimes contradict a preexisting and preferred belief system. If you have not yet come to terms with step one, it is simply impossible to advance any further prior to doing so.

Once a person comes to terms with developing an ability to objectively evaluate competently presented information, regardless of the initial emotional discomfort that it may invoke, they may then confidently move further along the path of discovery. They have then become a sincere seeker of truth.

A key factor on the path is the ability to define standards of admissible evidence and to consistently maintain a commitment to doing so. The choice of making this commitment must be made much more than once. Continuous conscious decisions are a requirement of remaining committed to truth and accuracy.

The definition of admissible evidence should of course include items that the professional research community defines and recognizes as credible. Such items include Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents, files from the U.S. Patent Office, official court documents, and similar such material that can be readily authenticated. This would include certain articles published in newspapers and professional journals. Additional items of admissible evidence should include books, research papers, and similar such material that is not wildly speculative, is authored by individuals that hold credentials that qualify them as experts on the subject matter being addressed, and particularly in which they consistently cite verifiable sources for their resulting work.

Admissible evidence recognized by the professional research community also includes books and research papers that may be written by individuals that do not hold impressive credentials but consistently cite credible and verifiable sources, conform to critical thinking, and subsequently abstain from making leaps in logic. Such items are particularly considered admissible if the intent and purpose of such work was to justify further investigation into the lines of reasoning, as opposed to the work having been presented as conclusive if, in fact, it was not conclusive. It just depends on the extent that the author in question has conducted professional research and then composed the findings in a competent and an objective manner, regardless of credentials or a lack thereof.

Additional items that are defined as admissible evidence by the professional research community include information obtained from the official websites of institutions of higher learning. This may include files such as final grant reports, articles written by qualified experts, and the documented and verifiable circumstances that are relevant to the consideration of any given subject.

Items such as mentioned above are not the only forms of admissible evidence as recognized by the professional research community. Such items do, however, happen to rank among the most commonly used due to being universally recognized as indicative of competency and professionalism when utilized in a book, research paper, or public presentation.

Please note that a commonality from one item to the next is that each item is readily available for verification, public review, and peer review by qualified experts. This is a very important point and can virtually not be overemphasized.

For any given point to be established as factual, whether we are discussing anything from automobile performance to alleged alien hybrids, the supporting data must be available for verification and review. This is where the rubber hits the road and we separate established fact from circumstances such as a hypothesis, possible hoax, and subjective and unsubstantiated opinion. These are the ways of the objective seeker of truth.

This is not to suggest that additional items such as witness testimony and circumstantial evidence should be exclusively defined as inadmissible. I repeat: This is not to suggest that additional items such as witness testimony and circumstantial evidence should be exclusively defined as inadmissible.

However, we must be committed to appropriately weighing the credibility of each item of evidence that makes up our body of evidence, and therefore appropriately incorporate each item into forming our evaluation of what is suggested by the evidence. If it is simply not yet possible to form a conclusion as established by the publicly reviewable facts, then attempting to form the conclusion, much less impose it upon others, is nothing less than detrimental to the process of identifying truth and accuracy. This is the case regardless of the circumstances of debate.

I choose to clarify that I am not suggesting that the value of emotional support should be minimized. Actually, many are well aware of my advocacy of the significance of emotional support, the value of obtaining quality emotional support, and the value of the resulting increased emotional intelligence.

However, the objective identification of truth and the pursuit of receiving validation of our emotions can be two entirely different subjects and activities, and should often be approached as such. This editorial just so happened to deal with the former, the identification of truth.

In future entries I will describe some aspects of my journey through the often frustratingly misguided and overly passionate UFO community. I will address some of the factually supported explanations that most certainly apply to some reports of alleged alien abduction that are in actuality misinterpretations. These explanations became apparent to me through my efforts to identify truth and accuracy. I will additionally address how our willingness to acknowledge and accept the fact that such explanations indeed apply to some reports builds each of our credibility and the resulting collective credibility of the UFO community. This should be a shared goal and should be the case regardless of our personal experiences, what some other more fantastic explanations may possibly be for some other reports, and/or our preferred stance on the abduction phenomenon.

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