Believing without evidence is always morally wrong – Francisco Mejia Uribe

is an executive director at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong. He has degrees in philosophy and economics from the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and blogs at The Philosopher Blog.

 

You have probably never heard of William Kingdon Clifford. He is not in the pantheon of great philosophers – perhaps because his life was cut short at the age of 33 – but I cannot think of anyone whose ideas are more relevant for our interconnected, AI-driven, digital age. This might seem strange given that we are talking about a Victorian Briton whose most famous philosophical work is an essay nearly 150 years ago. However, reality has caught up with Clifford. His once seemingly exaggerated claim that ‘it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence’ is no longer hyperbole but a technical reality.
<p>If I believe it is raining outside... <em>The Umbrella</em> (1883) by Marie Bashkirtseff. <em>Courtesy the State Russian Museum/Wikipedia</em></p>
In ‘The Ethics of Belief’ (1877), Clifford gives three arguments as to why we have a moral obligation to believe responsibly, that is, to believe only what we have sufficient evidence for, and what we have diligently investigated. His first argument starts with the simple observation that our beliefs influence our actions. Everyone would agree that our behaviour is shaped by what we take to be true about the world – which is to say, by what we believe. If I believe that it is raining outside, I’ll bring an umbrella. If I believe taxis don’t take credit cards, I make sure I have some cash before jumping into one. And if I believe that stealing is wrong, then I will pay for my goods before leaving the store.
What we believe is then of tremendous practical importance. False beliefs about physical or social facts lead us into poor habits of action that in the most extreme cases could threaten our survival. If the singer R Kelly genuinely believed the words of his song
‘I Believe I Can Fly’ (1996), I can guarantee you he would not be around by now.
But it is not only our own self-preservation that is at stake here. As social animals, our agency impacts on those around us, and improper believing puts our fellow humans at risk. As Clifford warns: ‘We all suffer severely enough from the maintenance and support of false beliefs and the fatally wrong actions which they lead to …’ In short, sloppy practices of belief-formation are ethically wrong because – as social beings – when we believe something, the stakes are very high.
The most natural objection to this first argument is that while it might be true that some of our beliefs do lead to actions that can be devastating for others, in reality most of what we believe is probably inconsequential for our fellow humans. As such, claiming as Clifford did that it is wrong in all cases to believe on insufficient evidence seems like a stretch. I think critics had a point – had – but that is no longer so. In a world in which just about everyone’s beliefs are instantly shareable, at minimal cost, to a global audience, every single belief has the capacity to be truly consequential in the way Clifford imagined. If you still believe this is an exaggeration, think about how beliefs fashioned in a cave in Afghanistan lead to acts that ended lives in New York, Paris and London. Or consider how influential the ramblings pouring through your social media feeds have become in your very own daily behaviour. In the digital global village that we now inhabit, false beliefs cast a wider social net, hence Clifford’s argument might have been hyperbole when he first made it, but is no longer so today.
The second argument Clifford provides to back his claim that it is always wrong to believe on insufficient evidence is that poor practices of belief-formation turn us into careless, credulous believers. Clifford puts it nicely: ‘No real belief, however trifling and fragmentary it may seem, is ever truly insignificant; it prepares us to receive more of its like, confirms those which resembled it before, and weakens others; and so gradually it lays a stealthy train in our inmost thoughts, which may someday explode into overt action, and leave its stamp upon our character.’ Translating Clifford’s warning to our interconnected times, what he tells us is that careless believing turns us into easy prey for fake-news pedlars, conspiracy theorists and charlatans. And letting ourselves become hosts to these false beliefs is morally wrong because, as we have seen, the error cost for society can be devastating. Epistemic alertness is a much more precious virtue today than it ever was, since the need to sift through conflicting information has exponentially increased, and the risk of becoming a vessel of credulity is just a few taps of a smartphone away.
Clifford’s third and final argument as to why believing without evidence is morally wrong is that, in our capacity as communicators of belief, we have the moral responsibility not to pollute the well of collective knowledge. In Clifford’s time, the way in which our beliefs were woven into the ‘precious deposit’ of common knowledge was primarily through speech and writing. Because of this capacity to communicate, ‘our words, our phrases, our forms and processes and modes of thought’ become ‘common property’. Subverting this ‘heirloom’, as he called it, by adding false beliefs is immoral because everyone’s lives ultimately rely on this vital, shared resource.
While Clifford’s final argument rings true, it again seems exaggerated to claim that every little false belief we harbour is a moral affront to common knowledge. Yet reality, once more, is aligning with Clifford, and his words seem prophetic. Today, we truly have a global reservoir of belief into which all of our commitments are being painstakingly added: it’s called Big Data. You don’t even need to be an active netizen posting on Twitter or ranting on Facebook: more and more of what we do in the real world is being recorded and digitised, and from there algorithms can easily infer what we believe before we even express a view. In turn, this enormous pool of stored belief is used by algorithms to make decisions for and about us. And it’s the same reservoir that search engines tap into when we seek answers to our questions and acquire new beliefs. Add the wrong ingredients into the Big Data recipe, and what you’ll get is a potentially toxic output. If there was ever a time when critical thinking was a moral imperative, and credulity a calamitous sin, it is now.

Maria & Lilo / Padre

La Vida de La Dona y El Cuerpo del Cacique

 

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Dando y dando, palomita volando/ remember that you have to die

Don Lilo, long delayed a much needed journey back home to Genoa… “Dando y dando, palomita volando”… he recalled the days of life together with his daughter before the dilemma of wealth and the cold indifferent world that had come between them…”you were a free bird once and yet, you chose jewels of iron to bejewel yourself in tarnished glamour.”

Don Lilo had come into money, after selling off his small but successful shipping concern in Genoa to Baldo and The Church. Moving to Málaga, with his daughter Maria, Don Lilo continued to manage shipping details of the business while he set his daughter free who then turned against him, broke his heart to be an elitist socialite. Don Lilo unhappy with the wealth bestowed upon him sought to give Maria the rich life he felt she deserved…the life that would eventually drive her away from him…and to Baldo.

Don Lilo was openly against Maria’s relationship with Baldo, who was more than fifteen years her senior, too old it seemed, to pique the interest of such a young and innocent girl, but the glimmer of wealth in a big city became the draw and her comfort. Though in doubt, she longed for the hope she imagined upon agreeing to marry Baldo…despite her father…and the awareness that her self-imposed ignorance resulted in Father’s death.

The sound of duende filled the air as he walked alone in the streets of Málaga after drink and celebration then sadness, the cries and sound of anguish and tragedy from an open window came the sound of a gypsy song… death in the guise of familiar faces from the darkness of la cantina. A night of misery that caressed him in fear, the two men came to him as he drank and as festive as they were they wondered who he was, where he came from, why he was here in Malaga… “you sound Genovese, si, why are you here?”

“My daughter…”

“Su hija, si, bella, si….

“Es bella.”

“Let us drink with you, liven your misery, jest with us until then, until your misery is gone.”

And they did, their familiar faces became darkness without jest, death was their friend to introduce to Don Lilo…The men hovered and laughed over Don Lilo’s bloodied body, his eyes and body deflated of its soul, the shell collapsed of structure but longing for Maria…the two men walked away with death having spoken it’s orders and carried out.

Don Lilo dragged his limp and beaten body back to the Last Cantina he visited; by the time The Crowns soldiers noticed and identified the body and his importance, he had died from the assault. An inquest ordered by the court found no suspect… before Maria left for the new world and had lost interest…

duquende

remember that you have to die

To see the darkness…

after the light

haunts the light and remains always there…

Even in the light there is darkness without expectation…

There is never only light…

But when there is no light there is darkness…

Before the light there was always and only darkness…

Light must rest from questions of the darkness…

Darkness by default questions existence itself…

Darkness is why…

It is assumed that only the light consumes energy but darkness is the energy…

It is a side that seems to deceive…

But in truth is honest, almost to a fault…

Its feared because it represents as unknown as the truth really is…

What we perceive as the truth is an assumption and accepted without question while darkness is questioned and preferred but humankind doesn’t ask but more often questions the light assuming the answer and fears the darkness because it’s questions answered…

Darkness has its consequences as all do, always ask a question or be taken a fool…

Alone on the ship Maria travelled and pondered all she left behind and the fear she sailed into, so much of it hers but the fear of others…. They were upon the Lord’s bounty the Lord’s beauty… Have we been offered enough?

Balbo had insisted she bathe herself in a complex skin bath to lighten her complexion… Her skin was too dark her mixed heritage was showing through.. She would have to change to fit by his side, otherwise…

Maria speaks to traveling holy man of the military…The world is finite despite the belief of many throughout… What is left is still to be had… To be taken and will be the claim of the northern European over the black men

 

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Careful What You Say


e·voke
/əˈvōk/Submit
verb


1.
bring or recall to the conscious mind.
“the sight of American asters evokes pleasant memories of childhood”
synonyms: bring to mind, put one in mind of, conjure up, summon (up), invoke, elicit, induce, kindle, stimulate, stir up, awaken, arouse, call forth; More

2.
invoke (a spirit or deity).
synonyms: bring to mind, put one in mind of, conjure up, summon (up), invoke, elicit, induce, kindle, stimulate, stir up, awaken, arouse, call forth…
Words are important…they aren’t just for communication, you can do that with drums…

Words have intent, words can have multiple meanings of intent…

Each word spoken or thought makes a  difference…

Each word, spoken or written has a different intent then each word thought or heard by others and specifically by whom.

Each word can also have no intent…

Conversation, whether spoken or written can have a frivolous intent, to communicate perhaps or can evoke meanings of intent that speaks to or from the self or to the heart and soul of others reading or listening…

Careful what you say…

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Drool

A black man walking with a cane, boards the subway train struggling to move along but still standing walks to a seat nearest the door with his back to me. Mostly I saw his hulking physique trying to find comfort in his position. I could likewise see him via reflection through the subway train glass and he still adjusted side to side to be comfortable. He slouched forward and seemed to drool from underneath his hood, the drool falling forward coming to a rest. As I continued to watch his body slouch even more until the hulk he seemed to be disappear within his clothing that folded accordingly. I watched the man as his clothing folded in on itself. And out from underneath the mass of clothing he was appeared a squirming caterpillar-like being. And then the train filled with other pedestrians…

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Inside the U.S. Crackdown on Pedro Albizu Campos & Nationalist Party

Commemorations are being held today to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Pedro Albizu Campos, popularly known to many as Don Pedro, the former head of the Nationalist Party and leader of the Puerto Rican independence movement. Albizu Campos spent some 26 years in prison for organizing against U.S. colonial rule. He was born in 1891, seven years before the U.S. invaded the island. He would go on to become the first Puerto Rican to graduate from Harvard Law School. Once he returned to Puerto Rico, he dedicated the rest of his life to the independence movement, becoming president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party in 1930. It was a position he held until his death in 1965. In 1936, Albizu Campos was jailed along with other Nationalist leaders on conspiracy and sedition charges. His jailing led to protests across Puerto Rico. On Palm Sunday, March 21, 1937, police shot and killed 21 Puerto Ricans and wounded over 200 others taking part in a peaceful march to protest Albizu Campos’ imprisonment. The event became known as the Ponce massacre. After his eventual release, Albizu Campos was arrested again in 1950, just days after a Nationalist revolt began on October 30. Pedro Albizu Campos would spend almost the rest of his life in prison, where he repeatedly charged that he was the subject of human radiation experiments. We hear Albizu Campos in his own words and speak to three guests: Rep. José Serrano (D-NY); Nelson Denis, author of the new book, “War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony”; and Hugo Rodríguez of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. Democracy Now!, is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,300+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9am ET: http://democracynow.org

The Exploding Man – The Christ Conqueror

 

Joshua, made his way to the end of a railcar,

where the other sardines were packed…

His anger rose to emanate the heat coming from his body,

as if the warm cinders within generated,

a rising heat to burn and become a fire…

clothes shed in seconds to reveal

a God

distraught with all about

to wreak havoc upon all sinners…

God has spoken

and there’s more to do.

 

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