Evidence has value to the extent it is corroborated

I’ve had the opportunity, some decades ago, to become aware of the value, with regard to any topic that a person can imagine, of the value of evidence.

Different people arrive at an attunement with regard to the value of evidence, according to their own particular journeys. I guess we can add that for some of us, the value of evidence is not self-evident. In that case, we are devoted to the appeal of truthiness.

I haven’t provided links to any of the above-noted terms, such as evidence and truthiness, but the links are are available, through the internal search engine at this website.

Because of my interest in the value of evidence, the distinction between rhetoric and reality became a major source of interest to me.

Franz Kafka

I’ve also aware, as many people are, of how the fabrication of evidence, in any of the wide range of situations where it can occur – as in scams and scamming – warrants close attention.

Evidence has value to the extent it is solid, verifiable, and corroborated by other solid evidence.

With regard to the latter topic, a Dec. 9, 2014 CBC The Current article is entitled: “David McCallum exonerated after 29 years, thanks to two Canadians.”

Another Dec. 9, 2014 CBC The Current article that is of interest – in particular the reference to Franz Kafka, whose work (often addressing the nature and misuse of perceptual evidence) is also a key focus for the work of David Lynch – is entitled: “Don Tapscott revisits ‘The Digital Economy’, his internet predictions.”

Slow journalism

A Dec. 10, 2014 item at CBC concerns “slow journalism.”

An introduction to the topic at the CBC The Current website reads:

Wednesday, December 10th 

  • Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Paul Salopek is taking the concept of “slow journalism” to a whole new speed. He’s tracing the path of human migration out of Africa, across the Middle East, Asia and the Americas on foot… telling the stories of the people he meets along the way. He expects the journey to take 7 years. Anna Maria Tremonti catches up with him at the end of his second year, as he passes through the Middle East and some of the most war-torn parts of the world.

[End of excerpt]

A Dec. 10, 2014 CBC The Current article is entitled: “Paul Salopek, year 2 of his 7-year historical walking tour.”


A Jan. 8, 2015 CBC article is entitled: “Dr. Oz, The Doctors’ TV advice not always supported by evidence: Review of shows by Alberta doctors concludes people need to be skeptical.”

A Feb. 8, 2016 CBC article is entitled: “Motherisk scandal highlights risk of deferring to experts without questioning credentials: Lab’s flawed hair testing echoes Charles Smith scandal, with similarly devastating effects.”

A Feb. 10, 2016 Guardian article is entitled: “Opinion vs facts: why do celebrities so often get it wrong? Celebrities often make wildly inaccurate claims and comments to millions of people. But the workings of our minds mean we’re all prone to such behaviour.”

A Feb. 22, 2016 New York Tims article is entitled: “For Mark Willenbring, Substance Abuse Treatment Begins With Research.”

A June 18, 2016 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Who needs the truth in this post-factual world?’

An Aug. 24, 2016 Poynter article is entitled: “The more partisan your online media diet, the less likely you are to believe fact-checkers.”

11 replies
  1. Eric Karbin
    Eric Karbin says:

    There is no such thing as solid evidence. Everything is questionable. Just when you think the world is flat, someone comes along and shows it’s round. I read somewhere that a solid rock is really an illusion — that in fact, what one perceives to be rock solid is just space with a lot of atoms and molecules buzzing around. Ultimate reality, who knows what it is? The closest one can come to it is “perception”. I didn’t see Kafka’s “The Trial” as having anything to do with perceptual evidence or any other kind of evidence. Now that I think about it, I wonder what evidence is not perceptual. It’s axiomatic that evidence must be perceptible by one of the five senses. ESP doesn’t cut it as far as being “evidence”. The word itself implies “vision”.

  2. Eric Karbin
    Eric Karbin says:

    And then there’s Bishop Berkeley who proved that matter doesn’t exist. Regarding this, there this interesting anecdote in Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson. “After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”

  3. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    These are interesting points. By solidity of evidence I refer to a consensual reality. If enough people agree, in particular circumstances, that it is solid, then for the purposes of the discussion at hand, it’s solid. What we are dealing with, with regard to this matter, is the social construction of meaning.

    Franz Kafka provides a particular approach to the social construction of meaning. Don Tapscott mentions Kafka in the Dec. 9, 2014 CBC The Current interview that I discussed above. He notes in the interview that the Internet can give rise to predicaments in which a person finds herself or himself in a Kafkaesque situation. I noted Tapscott’s reference to Kafka, in the interview that I heard today, because I had been reading about how the filmmaker David Lynch had been influenced by Kafka early in Lynch’s career.

    The part of Lynch’s work that particularly interests me is how he happened to get started in his filmmaking career. As an art student the concept of a “moving painting” arose in his mind at a particular moment and he proceeded with a project to bring the concept to life, using a 16mm Bolex film camera.

    I was thinking today: “The book about David Lynch that I’ve been reading represents a film critic’s contribution to our understanding of contemporary culture.” I was also thinking: “To what extent does Franz Kafka provide a useful view of reality?” As well, “Some people spend time looking at movies as a way to make sense of reality.”

    Not that this fact is of much interest to anybody, but I would add that I don’t watch a lot of movies or videos. I can’t generally sit still long enough to watch a movie or video from start to finish.

    The one time I can manage it is when I make a real effort to attend to the video or movie for the full length of it. In such a case, I often make an effort to figure out how the production is put together, pretty well from one frame to the next. I would try to figure out how it was scripted, how the storyboards were put together if they were used, how the dialogue and sound effects and music were recorded, how it was produced, cast, directed, edited, and marketed, and how audiences responded to it.

    The short videos I make myself, on the other hand, I like to view those once in a while, because I have a personal connection to them, and I look forward to putting together many more of them, because it’s a great way to share information online. One of my online videos – Stuttering – Listener’s Guide – has had over 600 views to date. I’m really pleased I put that video together.

  4. Eric Karbin
    Eric Karbin says:

    Around the 13 min. mark of your video on stuttering, you make some statements about “evidence”:
    -the evidence to date suggests that stuttering is a neurological problem affecting speech production;
    – there is no evidence that the causes of stuttering are emotional or psychological;
    – there is no evidence stutterers share particular personality characteristics.
    I was just wondering if you consider those statements the sort of message stutterers might find encouragement in and whether you made them to give such encouragement.

  5. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    The evidence that I refer to is a summary of key research that has been reported in peer-reviewed professional journals.

    I make the statements because I am committed to sharing accurate information about stuttering. One of the things that has happened in the past 50 years is that research, I would say especially neuroscience research, has enabled us to get a better understanding of what stuttering is and what it isn’t.

    I imagine that knowing that one is dealing with a neurological problem, related to speech production in specified situations, can be useful for people who stutter. Knowing what a person is dealing with can be a source of comfort and encouragement.

    However, how a person who stutters, or anybody else, deals with such information is up to them.

    The larger issue, as I see it, is that non-stutterers benefit from knowing what to do when they speak with a person who stutters – especially a person who stutters severely, as I did in my younger years. Non-stutterers find it helpful, for example, when we advise them that it’s helpful if they maintain some measure of eye contact with the person who stutters rather than looking way. As I mentioned in a Globe and Mail interview some years ago, that’s helpful because it’s a way to say, “Yes, you stutter, and yes you’re still a part of the human race.”

    Thus when I used to give presentations or when I did media interviews about stuttering, I would share information about what stuttering is, and what non-stutterers can do to make the communication process more comfortable for all concerned.

    For people who stutter, the key message that organizations such as the Canadian Stuttering Association (CSA) seek to get across is the fact that, “As people who stutter, there’s a lot we can learn from each other.” As well, we communicate the fact that, “If you stutter, you’re not alone.”

    Many people who stutter that I’ve met over the years have mentioned that, as children, they had the feeling that their trouble with speaking felt like it was something unique to them. They sometimes have said, “I felt like I’m the only person in the world who has this problem.”

    As a national organization, CSA seeks to provide an open forum for the sharing of information about what stuttering is, and how to deal with it. We don’t advocate one or another approach to dealing with stuttering. However, we also point out that there is no cure for stuttering and that there are many scam artists running around who claim to have a quick fix for stuttering.

    Over 25 years ago, I found a way to deal with my own stuttering. That changed the trajectory of my life. I became involved in community organizing and public education on behalf of people who stutter, in Canada and elsewhere in the world. What worked for me – in my case, I re-learned how to speak; I learned fluency as a second language – will not work for all people who stutter.

    These days I maintain contact with a younger generation of leaders who as volunteers are helping organizations such as CSA grow and move on to the next level. Their work is a source of tremendous inspiration for me. Much of what I know about social media applications in the volunteer community organizing work that I do now (which generally has nothing to do with stuttering), I have learned from this younger generation of leaders.

    The idea that young kids who stutter, and their families, have more help – and more accurate information – available to them is very encouraging for me, as I look back on my own situation 50 and more years ago. Many barriers remain. Waiting lists for treatment for stuttering, for children in our schools who stutter, are often very long and many challenges are faced by many people who stutter of all ages. We are making progress, however, and I’m very pleased about that.

  6. Eric Karbin
    Eric Karbin says:

    I got the impression from your video that you were saying to stutters: “Don’t worry, guys – the problem your fault; it isn’t emotional or psychological; it has nothing to do with certain personality traits you have in common with other stutterers. The problem, according to the latest “evidence”, is that the problem stems from neurological factors, that is, the way your brain is wired, that is, something that is part of the physical/electrical make-up you parents handed down to you.

    If the problem of stuttering is emotional or psychological, that would suggest that the professional help one needs is psychological or psychiatric and some people have a reluctance to admit they need that kind of help.

    If the problem is neurological but brain surgery is not a realistic option, a stutterer may feel comfort with sharing their problem with support groups and those who lead support groups. This way just feels better than having to get one’s “head read” or going to a “shrink”.

    In the past, whenever I have on rare occasions been talking with or receiving oral instructions from someone who stuttered, what I did was carry on talking as if they weren’t stuttering. I don’t recall averting my gaze, making stupid suggestions or making them feel they were not part of the human race. One of these stutterers was my boss. He was the manager of a stock brokerage firm.

    Just because someone doesn’t maintain eye contact during a conversation doesn’t mean they don’t consider the other person as not belonging to the human race. Just as not maintaining eye contact doesn’t necessarily mean someone is lying or not listening.

    I don’t know if a non-stutterer feels more comfortable if he maintains eye contact with a stutterer who is trying to say something anymore than the eye contact he maintains when he listens to another non-stutterer.

    People who as kids felt they were “alone” because of some characteristic or trait or physical problem did so because they didn’t realize that everyone is in fact unique. We learn to overcome our “uniqueness” by pretending we are “alike” because we share a number of similar ways of acting, talking, looking, etc., in other words, similar customs. Those customs hide a lot of individual peculiarities.

    I’d hate to have a problem like stuttering or dyslexia. I have enough problems as it is, without these as well. There’s really nothing I feel I can do to help stutterers or dyslexic except to treat them as if they don’t have a problem. How they deal with that is up to them.

  7. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    We all have our unique ways of making sense of things.

    I like to think that each person does the best with whatever hand they’ve been dealt with. One thing I’ve learned from my own experience is that if a person has a challenge to deal with, the best way to deal with it is head-on, and to do whatever can be done in order to address it.

    It’s valuable for me to get feedback from viewers, regarding their responses to the content of a video such as “Stuttering – A Listener’s Guide.”

    It’s great to be reminded, as well, that some fluent speakers are at ease in speaking with a person who stutters. Some people do have the knack of being at ease.

    For readers with an interest in research about stuttering, the Science Direct list of the “Top 25” articles at the Journal of Fluency Disorders from July to September 2014 can be accessed here. Readers who have an interest in keeping up to date with the list can subscribe to regulate updates from Science Direct.

    I’m always prepared to modify my own views, about what stuttering is and isn’t, based on what the most recent research appears to be suggesting.

  8. Eric Karbin
    Eric Karbin says:

    I can make no sense of your statement: We all have our unique ways of making sense of things.
    It seems to rule out common sense. It also seems to ignore the evidence that most people make sense of things by following paths that were laid out before they came along and that few people are pioneers or trail blazers. Often, making sense of things amounts to no more than the blind leading the blind.
    Why care what each person does with what’s he’s dealt with? Especially, if it turns out that by him doing “the best”, he wins and you lose?
    I don’t know if all challenges can be dealt “head on”. It may be that a better way would be tocome up from behind, so as to take the challenge by surprise. Napoleon apparently did this quite a lot and thereby became the Emperor of Europe for a while.
    How to deal best with a challenge may depend on whether something is regarded as a “challenge” by the challengee. If he decides whatever- it- is is a challenge, then the next step for him would be ( if he wishes to deal with it) to define it: to get a good idea what the challenge is. In fact, defining it may be a challenge in itself. One might skip this step if it seems to thechallengee that the challenge is obvious. An obvious challenge may be one that one best deals with by ignoring it and hoping it will go away. The nice thing about having a challenge +/or having to deal with it is that one choose to have or not to have that challenge. One is free to not have the challenge one wishes not to have . Taking the bull by the horns isn’t what torreadors do. The closest thing I know to dealing with a challenge “head on” is what rams do to win a desirable female.

  9. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    I was interested to read your comments.

    What I’m saying – or am trying to say – is that each person makes sense of things in their own particular way. My way of making sense of things may make sense to me, but not to somebody else. Somebody else’s way of making sense may make sense to them, but not to me.

    If two or more people agree about something, then they have arrived at a mutual consensus regarding how a particular situation is defined. That is, they arrive at some measure of agreement about what makes sense, in the situation in which they interact. Erving Goffman has defined the process in a classic study entitled “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.” One of my posts about Erving Goffman – who he was and how he got started in his career – is among the most regularly visited posts at my website. But that is just an aside.

    At this website I’ve explored, from time to time, a “symbolic interactionist” perspective regarding how we make sense of everyday reality. You can reference those discussions by doing a search for “symbolic interactionist” or “symbolic interactionism” using the internal search engine at my website.

    I’ve also referred briefly to “sensemaking” as a formal area of study. Again, this discussion can be located by doing a search at my site for “sensemaking.” One of the intriguing precepts of sensemaking is that, if a group needs to find its way, an inaccurate map is much better than no map at all.

    It may be the case that my previously posted comment makes no sense. On the other hand, maybe it will help if I clarify, to the extent that I have the capacity to clarify, what I meant.

    What I am saying is that if a person has a disability, or a challenge in life, such as stuttering, it’s useful to deal with it directly. That’s what I mean by dealing with a challenge head-on. Stuttering is one particular challenge that a person may face. There are many other challenges a person may face, including the challenge of not having any challenges at all in life to deal with.

    When I was younger, I tried to ignore the fact that I stuttered, at times severely, to the extent that sometimes I could not get out any words at all.

    As I got older I began a quest. I said to myself, “Given the situation that I find myself in, I’m going to find out how I can get out of this situation.” I tried many things before I found something that worked. I kept on searching until I found the answer. I was, during my search, dealing with the challenge head-on. I kept on looking. I never gave up. I persisted. I persevered.

    The point about military tactics and strategies is a good one, but that’s not what I’m referring to with regard to the concept of dealing with things head-on, that is, directly. I’ve discussed military matters in the Military History category at this website. In military history, subterfuge is probably just as important as dealing with things “head-on,” as the career of William Stephenson during the Second World War, by way of example, attests.

    But that is another topic. I’m saying that if a person has a challenge in life, such as the challenge as exemplified by stuttering, in my younger years, then it’s a good idea to deal with it – directly.

  10. Eric Karbin
    Eric Karbin says:

    Why were you interested in my comments?
    You say each person makes sense of things in their (plural?) own particular way. That simply isn’t true, unless you referring to each psychotic or schizophrenic person . A normal person makes sense of things in a way that is not particularly his or her own buth rather is a way he or she shares with others as a result of education, rearing and growing up among people who share some sort of culture. If your statement is true, then it follows that your next statements that follow it should read as follows: “My way of making sense of things makes sense to me but to no one else. Somebody else’s way of making sense makes sense to him or her, but not to me or anyone else”. Otherwise, it is false to say in respect of a way to make sense of things that that way is someone’s “own particular” way; rather, it is way he or she shares with others and therefore is not his “particular own”.
    If two or more people agree about something, they don’t necessarily agree regarding how a situation is defined. They may simply be making a bunch of tacit assumptions about the situations, without there being any explicit mutual understanding being arrived at. Their apparent agreement may be a matter a one party doing something and the other not making an objection; indeed, the other party may not even be in a strong enough position (or otherwise feels indisposed) to say “No” so that it appears they agree.
    Erving Goffman and others who have studied the subject of sense making of everyday reality is way over my head. So I will just skip all that.
    A few of my earlier posted comments on your website make no sense because of a failure of my part to edit properly. For instance, I said that de Maisonneuve Bd. is 11 meters long. That is nonsense. That’s just one example of where I made no sense in previous comments.
    When you say “it may be that my previously posted comment makes no sense”, you suggest it was gibberish, even to you. Really, what you meant to say was “it may make no sense to other people but it makes sense to me”. Nothing does not make no sense in a vacuum; there is always at least one sense-maker that the thing or statement in question needs to be referred to. It makes no sense to ask if something makes sense or not if there is no one in existence who is presented with the proposition: Does this thing make sense?
    Stuttering can be a challenge or disability; it doesn’t have to regarded as such. Of course, if you stutter, you ought not to take up the occupation of door-to-door book salesman or used-car salesman. In these occupations, glibness is not just a plus, it’s a virtual necessity. There’s a whole range of occupations where speaking ability isn’t all that important. In these occupations, what does it matter if someone stutters? Not a great deal. The stutterer isn’t disabled from doing his job.
    As far as dealing “directly” with a challenge, you may think that is the best way to go when really it isn’t because you have overlooked a “indirect” way to deal with the challenge which would have made your life happier than it has been been. To struggle with stuttering over a lifetime can’t have been easy and can’t have been fun; life is short; life is just a bowl of cherries. You never gave up; you persisted; you persevered but the end result is what? Maybe no more than being able to look yourself in the mirror and say: “I never quit. What have I won? The ability to look in the mirror and say: I never quit”.

  11. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    In terms of differences in how people view the world, I like to distinguish, among other things, between people who draw inspiration from empirical evidence and people who draw inspiration from truthiness.

    If you want to correct the de Maisonneuve Blvd. post, let me know. It can be corrected. Anybody’s previous post can be corrected. I just need the instructions and it’s easy to make the revisions.

    In Erving Goffman’s analysis of everyday situations, the people involved in a given situation have to show sufficient agreement about the nature of the situation so that the ongoing social interaction can be maintained. Goffman is in many cases very easy to read; he’s an excellent writer.

    Some people who stutter see themselves as having a disability. Some do not. The right of each stutterer to decide whether she or he has a disability warrants celebration.

    The outcome of my own quest, with regard to stuttering, was that I have achieved control, from July 1987 on, over my dysfluency. I attended a three-week clinic, at the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research in Edmonton. It changed my life.

    I practised my new fluency skills every day for several years after the 1987 clinic, to make sure I maintained the skills. I also made regular tape recordings of my speech from day to day, and regularly analyzed two-minute segments of them, to ensure I was applying the skills correctly.

    After some years, the application of the fluency skills became pretty much automatic, or “second nature,” as the expression goes. These days most people that I speak with wouldn’t have a clue that at one stage of my life I stuttered severely. I’m very pleased with the outcome. It’s such a pleasure to say what I want to say, without struggling over every word.

    One of my friends, Michael Niven of Calgary, attended the Edmonton clinic at about the same time I did. At that time he was a young lawyer who had lost his job because of his stutter. After the clinic, he returned to Calgary and set up his own law firm, launching a successful career.

    Another person who attended the Edmonton clinic in those years is Peter Wyant
    of Regina, formerly Chief Development Officer, IPAC-CO2 Research Inc. He along with Michael Niven and several others co-founded the Canadian Stuttering Association in 1991. I served in the early years as national coordinator and media contact for the association.

    In a newspaper interview in 1991 at the time we were planning the first national conference in Canada for people who stutter, Peter Wyant remarked that when he was younger he used to work at jobs that didn’t require him to do much speaking. He would meet other people who stutter, at some place like an auto parts warehouse, who like himself had chosen such jobs because they didn’t have to do much speaking. That’s an option that some stutterers choose.

    In my view, effective treatment for stuttering, when it’s possible to get access to it, and to benefit from it, means that a person who stutters is better able to reach his or her full potential.

    I always have an interest in what visitors to my website have to say. I’m aware that my own view of things is just one among many.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *