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Why 'Science-Backed' Advice Is Not Always Better

Universal Truths

There are very few absolutely certain, universal truths in life. We are quick to think a piece of information is 100 percent true if it's presented as a new, groundbreaking idea, making us have a lightbulb moment.

Apart from basic math, which is a universal truth, very few truths are found in our lifetime that resonate with us for decades.

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The Sagan Standard
The Sagan Standard

The Sagan standard is related to astronomer Carl Sagan, who stated that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (a dictum abbreviated as ECREE).

This means t...

Ordinary And Extraordinary Claims

Based on the Sagan standard, if someone claims that they came across a unicorn during they commute, they would be expected to brig stronger evidence in order to verify that claim than if they claimed that they came across a horse.

This happens because there is significant evidence for the existence of horses, but no relevant evidence to support the existence of unicorns, which makes the latter claim extraordinary.

The Concept Of Extraordinary Claims
  • Instead of viewing claims as either ordinary or extraordinary, it’s better to view them as ranging between these two ends of the spectrum, based on how likely they are given everything that is known on the subject.
  • It can be difficult to define the exact threshold on the ordinary-extraordinary spectrum that a certain claim needs to cross before it’s considered extraordinary, it’s generally preferable to focus on how extraordinary a claim is instead, and to expect a stand of proof that matches that degree of extraordinariness.
  • A claim should generally not be viewed as extraordinary simply because it’s novel, but rather because it contradicts existing evidence.
How we perceive philosophy
How we perceive philosophy

When most people think of philosophy, they believe philosophers simply argue about arguing. Philosophy is viewed as impractical and irrelevant to current issues.

In...

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell

"Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don’t know."

Defining philosophy

Philosophy is examining our understanding of reality and knowledge. Philosophy consists of three major branches:

  1. Metaphysics - What is true about existence.
  2. Epistemology - How we can know that it is true. Epistemology has given us science, logic/reason, economics, psychology, and other theories of knowledge.
  3. Ethics - What actions we should take as a result of this knowledge. Ethics contains concepts such as democracy, human rights, the treatment of animals, and the environment.

When you order your thoughts into a coherent belief system, you are engaging in philosophy. To criticize philosophy, you must rely on philosophy.

Cautionary Hope
Cautionary Hope

Research shows that during disasters, altruism and kindness happen more than greed and selfishness. To tide over the current crisis requires optimism along with caution.

Action and accompli...

People With High Hopes

People with high hope have a good number of difficult, challenging goals, and a good scorecard of achievement.

They have lower rates of anxiety and depression and greater happiness. They cope well with problems that consume the rest of the world.

Hope = Goals + Agency + Pathways

Instead of wishful thinking, we need to know what we want (specific goals), and have the drive and passion to go towards it (agency) and should be able to generate methods and devices to achieve what we want (pathways).

When we do a sum total of these three, we get hope: Hope= Goals + Agency + Pathways