The Language of Evidence

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Who needs evidence? What is evidence, anyway? What is it good for?

Let’s take it from the top.

What is Evidence?

We all know what evidence is. It’s that thing President Trump lacked when he claimed voter fraud cost him the popular vote. Or when he claimed China fabricated climate change.

Evidence, the noun, can be defined in the following ways:

As an aside, I find it rather unfortunate that I have to pay for use of the Oxford English Dictionary—a dictionary (and so much more) distinct from the Oxford Dictionaries. Fie on them for charging for such a treasure trove of English!

Who Needs Evidence?

Everyone!

Why is Evidence Important?

Before I begin: no. The previous section is not suspiciously terse. Everyone needs evidence whether they like it or not.

Human civilization depends on evidence for quite a number of things including philosophy, law, science, and technology. Without it, where would we be? Without evidence, we could expect defendants in a court of law to be convicted based on caprice or whimsy rather than by establishing guilt through facts, information, and argument. Many medical practices and treatments are wholly dependent on well-designed experiments and empirical data validating their efficacy; this field is known as evidence-based medicine. How apropos! The whole scientific enterprise is grounded in claims that can be verified or falsified through measurement, observation, experimentation, and the replicability of such experiments.

Continue reading “The Language of Evidence”

Distorted Memories, Occluded Vision

“Nature never deceives us; it is we who deceive ourselves.”

If the dead could roll over in their graves, I’m sure Nelson Mandela would have done a 720-degree turn by now. Once again, humans besotted with strenuous explanations and the Mandela Effect come to haunt us with more fallible memories. This article—published in the New Statesman just before Christmas—outlines some of the cries Redditors had about a movie called Kazaam, starring Shaquille O’Neal. (Anyone who saw the move can understand why one’s memory would be garbled beyond recognition.)

It turns out that many Redditors erroneously recall Sinbad—instead of Shaq—starring in a film called Shazaam, following the same premise and storyline the real movie Kazaam took. One crackpot, Carl (not his real name), was so certain Shazaam was real that he offered a $1,000 reward to the person who could present him a copy of his beloved childhood film.

“I was dumbfounded to see that there was no evidence of the movie ever being made,” says Carl. “I quickly searched the internet, scouring every way I know how to search, crafting Boolean strings into Google, doing insite: searches, and nothing. Not a damn thing.”

Alas, in the absence of evidence, Carl persisted in his erroneous belief and insists on a “timeline shift.” Perhaps Carl has been dwelling too much on the Flashpoint Paradox. Another person—one approaching the outer margins of reality—believes that the “film was recalled and destroyed.” There are plenty of movies which qualify for recall, if not incineration. But who would undertake such a strenuous effort? Of all the copies?

[Insert exasperated sigh]

It’s such anemic beliefs which prevent us from embracing the new year and thoughtfully approaching the horizon. 2017 is off to a great start, no?

Thankfully, one subreddit is devoted to debunking “evidence” adduced in favor of the Mandela Effect, claiming that such detritus is “clogging up the sub” rather than combating this nuisance on principle alone. However, I fear the other subreddits where Redditors can share their personal Mandela Effect experiences portends a recrudescence of conspiracy theories generally—in the media and elsewhere. And I’m fairly certain we could all do with fewer of those.

When will we stop perpetuating these false memories and face the fact that our memories just suck?

Stop the Mandela Effect (Take 2) 

So, excuse my last post. I didn’t write anything. That was intentional.

It was meant to highlight the fallibility of human minds. I made the title for the post and then had told myself I should write something about it later. I scheduled the post and forgot about it. It was all part of the plan.

I have recently been inundated with questions about the Mandela Effect. I had never heard of such a phenomenon, hence my surprise when several friends independently brought the topic to my attention. Any perceptive reader will perhaps be able to guess what my stance is on this ‘effect’.

It’s bullshit. Sorry folks.

Continue reading “Stop the Mandela Effect (Take 2) “