Evidence Eras

One interpretation of history is that there have been 4 eras of evidence philosophies. This is not to imply that one or the other is "better" than the other, but merely that more perspectives have been added as part of humanity's historical journey. These philosophies still play out today in various debates about which kind of evidence is the most relevant.

Pre Civilization - Before religion, it was based on whatever the alpha-male wanted.

Authority Era - Evidence for truth was generally based on the word of a religious leader(s) or traditions. If the local shaman said that Earth is a giant turtle, the question is settled.

Logic Era - The ancient Greeks are generally credited with this. Due to slave labor, the wealthier of the citizens had time to ponder the universe, math, logic, and philosophy. Empirical "hands-on" evidence was generally down-played; perhaps out of the feeling of the time that such work was for slaves. Merely thinking about a topic was considered the true way to knowledge. The universe was perceived as guided by a kind of "master math", and to understand the universe one had merely to think about things hard enough to discover this math.

Empirical Era - This view was formalized in the Renaissance and formed the back-bone of modern science. Merely thinking about something was no longer considered sufficient to find the truth. One had to experiment with the real world; and any claim about the nature of the universe had to be tested against actual observations in order to gain credibility. Models (such as math) were the raw fuel of evidence rather than the evidence itself. Empirical analysis was required to validate models. The universe could be compared to a giant watch, and to figure out how this giant watch worked, one had to do empirical experiments. One had to get their hands dirty to find the truth.

Observer Era - This formed roughly in the few decades surrounding 1900 on both sides and can be characterized by the subjectivity and relativity studies and thoughts of Freud and Einstein; and on the observer-based mysteries of quantum physics. The big difference from prior eras is that the observer can play a key role. There is no longer one single central giant watch to figure out. Instead, the nature of the watch, real or perceived, may depend on the observer. A big boulder has been tossed into the pond of the Big Central Watch view; and even to this day we are still grappling with it. Concepts such as Schrodinger's cat, Anthropic Principle, probabilistic multiverses, HumanComputerInteraction, and psychology in general seem to be poorly served by "traditional" science so far.


These eras are related to FallaciousArgument (that weren't fallacious then). I added some above.


I wonder how this compares to schools of EasternThought.

I wonder how this compares to actual history. The last one in particular seems to be rather iffy.

Not to worry. It is a well know fact that history is too subjective to be 'Science' and therefore 'evidence' can supply, at best, only a supporting role. There is no reason to use evidence if it can never be dispositive. This is why it is now common practice to forbid the teaching of history on the grounds that it is and must be Euro-centric. Some progressive schools ( of history as well as of instruction ), now give equal weight to all interpretations. Those that are light on evidence are not unduly penalized for this, but must in fairness be graded on a curve, as it is, in their view, well established that the dominant culture has suppressed or destroyed a good deal of the evidence that would have supported their view if it had been allowed to exist. I myself, for example have a mail order PHD in the history of purple ideas, as well being an ordained minister, and thus tax exempt, in a religion which was ancient while fire was still under patent. I think we can all see the benefits of this approach. -- MarcGrundfest

It's not just progressives, for some conservative groups wish to re-project history through a Biblical viewpoint (at least their view of the Bible).
See Also: EvidenceTotemPole, CentralMasterUniverse
CategoryEvidence

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