Pascal's wager, where one attempts to bet on the existence of God. The logic of pascal's wager concludes that one should believe, or at least act as if one believes in God (this result is unsatisfactory to many, but wait I have a response). I was recently considering applying a decision matrix to answer the question, 'Should you believe in science?' There are other ways to phrase the question, like 'Should you be a skeptic?' or 'Should you follow logic?' Decision theory gets tricky here. In order to answer the question I recalled an analogy a professor used in a philosophy class I took long ago. My professor wanted us to consider a philosophical umpire calling a game. The umpire could either state that she was very vigilant such that she, 'calls em as I see em' (admitting fallibility), or the umpire could say that, 'I call them as they are' (denial of fallibility). In the situation before replays I could almost see the umpire taking either stance with reason because they are the final arbiter on the field. In this modern age it is completely untenable for an umpire to state that she calls everything'as they are because replays are available. In life any experience that can be repeated is like a game with replays; an experiment is a game with replays. We all must be like the philosophical umpire and we can reason out how to behave using these ideas.
Below I have made a logic table. On the left vertical axis is the true outcome of an event with respect to how you perceived it and on the top horizontal axis is how you see yourself judging the event. The conclusion of the table is that application of the scientific method is really powerful. Admitting that you make errors in judgement means that you always allow potential for improvements in the future outcomes, but insistence on being right leads you to a false world view. I think that scientists, skeptics, and atheist have essentially the same goal and are all standing in the top right corner there jumping up and down trying to get people to choose to be skeptical.
|'calls em as I see em' (skeptic)||'calls em as they are'|