Saturday, January 09, 2010

Theory and Fact, understanding the Truth

Over the years there have been many, many discredited “facts”. This is because people do not understand the difference between a fact, a theory and the truth.

Over the last six years the DNA theory has come into question. DNA is both very simple and very complex. DNA is a mixture of facts and theory. The math behind DNA is sound, BUT, the math requires that all variables be understood.

Suppose you have a cookie jar with 10 cookies in it. You know that your child takes one cookie every day. You have 10 days of cookies. After 5 days the cookies are gone. You badger your child and your child insists that they only had one cookie a day. You convict your child of cookie theft and ground them.

Is it a fact that the child took the cookie?

No. It is a theory. You know that you and your child are the only people who had access to the cookies and 5 cookies are gone. The theory is that your child took the cookies. The theory is sound. The math is correct.

The reality could be anything. Suppose you later discover that you have a raccoon in your attic that has been taking cookies. Your jar has a hinged lid so the lid closes automatically after the raccoon manages to get one out.

This is the situation with DNA.

Scientists got together and studied DNA. They discovered quite a lot about it. We don't know everything about DNA though and we are learning more all the time.

Since we don't know everything about DNA we cannot say that there is no variable that we do not understand.

Arizona opened their criminal DNA database for scientific study. The data discovered did not support the DNA theory. Instead of admitting this, people argued it.

You can't argue a fact. 2+2=4 right? Wrong, 2+2=11 IN a base 3 number system. 0,1,2,10,11,12,etc.

In the statement 2+2=4 we do not define all of the potential variables and we assume a known variable, the base 10 number system.

In grounding the child for taking cookies we assume that we know all the ways cookies can be removed from the cookie jar.

In claiming that DNA is an individual characteristic we are assuming we know all the possible variables that effect DNA.

All of these determinations require a level of assumption and typically that assumption is arrogant. Most of the time our assumptions may be correct. Other times our assumptions will be incorrect and that is the difference between FACT, THEORY and the Truth.

A FACT is something about which no assumptions are made.

A THEORY requires assumptions based on data or evidence or whatever.

TRUTH is that there are very few FACTS and most people couldn't tell the difference between a FACT and a theory to save their lives.

We have to live our lives making thousands of assumptions every day. We assume that the sun will rise in the morning and we assume that the sun will set at night. These are not facts, it is possible that the sun will not rise or set. The Earth could be hit by a giant meteor and be destroyed.

I am not asking anyone to quit making assumptions based on very low probabilities like giant meteors or raccoons. The only thing I am asking is that people recognize that they are making assumptions and not dealing with facts.

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