Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I Believe, In Percentages

I believe things in percentages. For instance if you were to ask me if UFOs are real I might say, "Oh, I'd give that a 70% chance of being true." Who shot JFK? Lee Harvey Oswald I'd estimate at about 70%, the Mafia or the CIA at about 14% each and the last 2% some assassin not known. The above percentages fluctuate depending on new information that I become aware of. If a UFO would crash land into my neighbors house, my UFO belief percent would naturally jump. But not to 100% as there still might be some explaination (which would appear to be conspiracy theory at that point) to counter the evidence.

I'm not 100% sure how I came to my philosophy because I don't believe in anything 100%, but I've gravitated to estimating what is the truth over the course of my life. Partially it has to do with my brushes with probability and statistics and reading of theories in science that sometimes get overturned.

I dislike absolutism. I dislike all-encompensing statements. Even when I myself declare something, I might add a disclaimer of doubt as I never want to fall into absolute belief. Even if I don't put a hedging statement into my writings, know that in my mind it is there. The problem is that since I don't believe in anything 100%, then everything I write or say would need a disclaimer and that only makes one seem wishy-washy or indecisive, which is wrongly considered a weakness. Constant disclaimers would be wordy and make a listener or reader bored and the subject tedious, at least I give it about a 80% chance of that being true. See?

What we call conspiracy theories is a fun subject to ponder in percentages of belief. The word theory immediately conjurs up an iffy probability because theory is a disclaimer word. Conspiracy makes the theory some type of cover-up and adding the word theory to conspiracy is the effort to expose a cover-up using evidence. The reason I consider it fun is that many percentages of belief can be applied and the percentages can change often. 9/11 has plenty of conspiracy theories. The government did it, put that as a 5% chance of my belief. The buildings were blown by charges because the owners wanted new buildings, 3%. Al Qaeda did it, 90%, something else, 2%. As you can see, I see a preponderance of evidence that Al Qaeda was the cause, yet I'm open to other ideas, just not very open. The believers in the other possibilties would consider me fooled or a dupe of the conspiracy.

Here's a shocker, I consider God as a possible massive conspiracy theory
, yet I have at least a 90% belief in a God or higher power. The problem of a belief in God is that philosophically it still comes down to faith. That's what the true believers always end up using as their basis of belief, faith. My 90% is simply derived out of a preponderance of this faith throughout the world and a lack of an explaination for how the universe began or what came before the universe. I expect some type of cause and effect to the birth of the universe.

Belief in God(s) has categories, atheists, agnostics, monotheists, polytheists, and I can beleive in all those categories but in percentages and those percentages ebb and flow through my life. There are days that I'm nearly 100% atheist, there are times I'm squarely on the side of the montheists, yet I wonder if the polytheists might be right. Overall then one might call me an agnostic, that I question the existence of God. And maybe that is as well my overall philosophy, I'm agnostic on everything.

The world is flat. The world is round. Large masses of people believe in things in percentages. If one were to go back to different times and do polling, we would find that the two above statements about the world have changed in percentage of belief. But still the world is round seems not to be believed 100%. There is a group called the Flat Earth Society that appears to truly believe that the world is flat.

Here's where absolutism gets in the way. The world is invisible. To beings from some far away planet, Earth is invisible. It's a small world after all, Disney said. Well sure, now we can think of it that way, but when human thought had Earth at the center of the universe, it wasn't small. The world is flat. Perspective plays a part, walking in some wide desert gives the impression that the world is flat. One lost in a desert has a flat Earth perspective or reality. That lost individual doesn't walk along imagining that each step is traversing a curved planet.

The world is round doesn't impress me as being completely true or my belief changes as my mind considers the other possibilities. I have to believe in a round Earth only in certain situations. Equally my mind can think of the Earth in many ways and believe them all, small, big, flat, invisible, round, etc. they all have merit and I can believe in them together or seperately or even not believe in them as each concept dominates another in my mind.

One plus one is two. Simple, right? Well, when I do fruit math I can change that mathmatical statement. One apple and one orange equal two fruit, despite admonitions that you can't add apples and oranges. One banana and one orange put into a blender makes one fruit drink, delicious. Do I believe one plus one equal two? Sure almost 100%, but I also believe it doesn't, also almost 100%. Contradictory certainly, but that's why I can't believe in anything 100%. Absolutisms can be found to be contradictory.

Language and semantics get in the way of belief. Humans see things with their eyes. To a blind person, they "see" with other senses. The word "see" causes an absolutism to be incorrect due to the various meanings of the word. So to me even non-blind "see" without using their eyes. But I still can believe almost 100% (99.9%, hell, maybe this world is all an illusion that has fooled us into believing our eyesight is real) that people see with their eyes. Besides humans only "see" what is called visible light, we can't see infrared or ultraviolet light. So do we really see everything?

I like to consider myself a contrarian. Tell me a fact or give me an absolutism and if I'm in the mood I'll want to contradict the fact and will do the research and the thinking to find plausable evidence in order to accurately contradict the fact. I may not even have a high percentage of belief in my researched contradiction, but with my philosophy I can accept in my mind the possibility of the contradictions truth.

I could go on extensively and probably will at a later time, but know this, everything I've written in the above is only believed by me in percentages.


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