But appeals to authority are not a basis for rational discussion -- they are appeals to trust, maybe decent rhetorical devices -- but not rational arguments. Reason does not depend on trust. That is one reason why reason is particularly useful. A certificate or degree does not prove or disprove anything. Just because I have a law degree does not mean a layman is wrong on the law when he disagrees with me -- the law is a VERY BIG THING. The physical world is even bigger.
Is it true that there is only one way of knowing something? -- Only one way of describing something? Only one useful way?
We can sit and talk and reason about anything we like. Real science, real research goes out and challenges its beliefs. It yearns for failure. When that anomaly, that failure of reason is reached, it's an opportunity for deeper study and IMPROVED knowledge.
Just some examples from this week's news.
It has long been reasoned, that the only guarantee for lifeforms is that they are born through one of several known processes and eventually die. Scientists however recently confirmed the existence of a species of jellyfish which when it becomes too old, too injured or too stressed, AGES BACKWARDS into it's pupal phase and then grows old again. WHAT? We KNOW that can't happen. We can reason and rationalize that what it means to live is to grow old and die. But, REALITY interferes with our precious logic. New information must affect our reasoning and understanding.
Recently, astronomers have discovered a black hole so massive that it makes up a full 14% of the mass of the galaxy that surrounds it. By all mathematical models (reasoning) that is impossible and is not something that can exist. Yet it does. According to reason, this thing does not exist. And yet it does. New information must affect our reasoning and understanding.
Mercury has long been known to be too close to the sun to have even the possibility of having water or organic material on it. It is simply too hot and spinning too fast. Our a priori knowledge of this celestial body tells us this. We know it. And yet, NASA just announced that they found water ice and most likely organic material in craters on the poles. Again, we find something that we have reasoned to not exist. New information again must affect our reasoning and understanding.
IHTBF comes down to a priori knowledge vs. posteriori knowledge. When I first met Neil, he could do things that were outside of my world experience. There was water on Mercury. When I met Ark and Rob, their bodies responded and felt different to anything I had experienced previously. Things that I KNEW should work and produce certain results, just didn't. There is a black whole that is too massive to exist. When I felt Dan he simply felt different than I thought someone could feel. There is an immortal life form on our planet.
Some things must be experienced. You cannot reason them out of existence or force them into a worldview that existed previously.