The Absence of Nonsense Doesn't Make a Statement True

"Consider that two people can hold incompatible beliefs based on the exact same data. Does this mean that there are possible families of explanations and that each of these can be equally perfect and sound? Certainly not! One may have a million ways to explain things, but the true explanation is unique, whether or not it is within our reach." -Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan
This is such a strong support for the existence of an absolute truth. Especially the final idea: that there is undoubtedly one true explanation, even if we don't have access to discovering what that explanation is.

Even if we ourselves don't know the explanation, that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. That lack of explanation isn't evidence for relativity and a plurality of explanations. And even if we do have a plurality of possible explanations from the available data, that doesn't mean that all those possibilities are equally valid (as Taleb has shown) or indeed that any of the options are valid.

Another quotation:
"Such insight should warn us that the mere absence of nonsense may not be sufficient to make something true."
So often it seems like we attempt to disprove a statement or an argument by pointing out the nonsense that it contains, but as Taleb points out, just because a statement is devoid of nonsense doesn't mean that it is right. There are even plenty of arguments that at first blush sound pleasing to the ear and attractive, yet they too turn out to be false.

The Moral: Judge the veracity of everything you hear with the utmost care and wisdom.

Photo: Filippo Minelli, via Flickr Creative Commons

1 comment:

  1. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end...well, you know the rest. Interesting stuff! Look forward to reading more!

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