Skip to main content

This catchy little phrase has no place in rational discourse and I will prove it.

Courts of law must decide upon matters of life and death and everything in between.  When it comes to criminal convictions, the standard of proof is "beyond a reasonable doubt".  This makes good sense - if one cannot reasonably doubt the evidence the conclusion is inescapable.  Now let's take a look at a case in point regarding the "extraordinary evidence" standard of proof.  We have here a diary calling into question the original authorship of certain writings.  In the course of discussion, a commenter introduced evidence from the wayback machine. This evidence demonstrated the date of the original writing.  The evidence was unimpeachable because (a) anyone could view it for her- or himself and (b) one cannot reasonably doubt this impartial source.  Yet evidence deniers persisted in proclaiming the "extraordinary proof" standard.  

With this example in mind we can now articulate what is wrong with this standard: ordinary proof is quite sufficient.  Requiring "extraordinary proof" allows the rejection of perfectly good evidence. It relies upon a capricious standard existing solely in the mind of the beholder.  

This is not meant as a personal attack on any individuals. I have seen this catchy little phrase all too often, by many different posters. It is long past time for it to be dead and buried.  The persons citing it in the linked diary are merely the latest examples.  I apologize for having to use it in order to bring this matter forth.  

Poll

Is it appropriate to reject the "extraordinary proof" standard?

50%29 votes
12%7 votes
3%2 votes
17%10 votes
17%10 votes

| 58 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Ordinary claim: (10+ / 0-)
    I have discovered a new species of shrew in the forests of British Columbia
    Extraordinary claim:
    I have discovered a new species of sasquatch in the forests of British Columbia
    A scientist making either claim would be held to the same standard of proof: provide a living or dead specimen that other scientists can examine.

    When someone says "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," they really mean "I don't bother to scrutinize assertions that are consistent with what I already believe."

    What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

    by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:40:02 AM PDT

    •  "Sasquatch was the 10th hijacker. (13+ / 0-)

      But he escaped back into the forest before the customs agent caught Ahmed Ressam in Port Angeles."

      I think that's where the "extraordinary proof" standard comes in really handy.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:48:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is entirely not true. (15+ / 0-)

      In the first case, and if the claim is consistent with the knowledge that shrews have lived there or in geographically contiguous areas, then descriptions of the specimen from multiple sources would be enough to satisfy at least a basic hypothesis that such a shrew exists.  We call this the "credible observation" standard, and this happens with birds all the time.  People may debate it, but it's not an unusual case and it won't cause you to get kicked out of the academy.

      In the second case, and since you're going to upend an entire branch of mammalia, you have to have a specimen before anyone takes you seriously.  

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:18:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  so, wait (0+ / 0-)

        you're saying that the same sketchy evidence for Bigfoot that you reject, you would be willing to accept if it were for a less improbable discovery?

        What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

        by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:12:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it depends on what you mean by "accept" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pico, sturunner

          If you tell me that you saw a cardinal outside this afternoon, should I demand a specimen?

          That standard of evidence would render a lot of ecological research impossible, I think.

          Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
          Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

          by HudsonValleyMark on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:51:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, I would. (5+ / 0-)

          Here's another example:

          I'm sick in bed with the flu and can't open the window.  The meteorologist on TV tells me the sun rose at 5:53 this morning.  I accept this as a fact with no independent verification.

          I'm sick in bed with the flu and can't open the window.  The meteorologist on TV tells me the sun rose, turned around, and did somersaults on the horizon before settling in its usual path.  I check the bottle on my medication to make sure I'm not hallucinating.  

          Extraordinary claims.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:25:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ordinary proof (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happymisanthropy, Pluto

            you ask a few witnesses.

            More seriously, requiring greater proof of unlikely claims is not the same as requiring extraordinary proof.  In actual usage, I find the extraordinary proof requirement is merely a way to reject evidence.

            •  Ah, I see where this is going. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ebohlman, grover
              More seriously, requiring greater proof of unlikely claims is not the same as requiring extraordinary proof.
              So we don't actually disagree: you just dislike the rhetorical gesture that people use to justify not using greater proof.

              This is a rhetorical argument, not an evidentiary argument.  By nature, some claims require greater evidence... Glad to see you agree!

              Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

              by pico on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:56:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The hell it isn't! (0+ / 0-)
                This is a rhetorical argument, not an evidentiary argument.
                Greater means that if the experiment can be repeated by independent teams under various conditions, the hypothesis will eventually be accepted.

                Extraordinary means it will never be accepted until the current generation of experts dies*, because all of that independent verification was fucking ordinary and therefore invalid

                (*as is frequently the case in science)

                What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

                by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:28:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Only in your head. (4+ / 0-)

                  If you're just defining "greater" and "extraordinary" to mean whatever you want, then it's a fairly useless discussion, ain't it?  

                  Science puts a higher threshold on paradigm-changing claims because paradigms exist for a reason (i.e. a long history of evidence.)   That's why the shrew/sasquatch example is important: a new species of shrew doesn't upset the paradigm, but a sasquatch does.  Ergo: higher threshold for evidence.  

                  That's it, full stop.  The rest is just rhetoric.

                  Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                  by pico on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:59:25 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Extraordinary evidence (0+ / 0-)

                    means qualitatively extraordinary.  There is no point at which a greater quantity of ordinary evidence can become qualitatively extraordinary.  

                    Science puts a higher threshold...
                    Carl Sagan was a scientist.  Carl Sagan is not science.
                    Ergo: higher threshold for evidence.  
                    Does this mean that each individual piece of evidence needs to meet an extraordinarily high threshold?  Or that the total amount of evidence needs to be quantitatively extraordinary?  
                    The rest is just rhetoric.
                    No, it's not just rhetoric.
                    Reasonably scrutinizing putative discoveries is one thing.
                    Giving intellectually lazy people another excuse to reinforce their own preconceptions is something else.
                    That's it, full stop.
                    I'm done, unless you want to discuss this comment.  (I also wanted to answer that bullshit you posted about the piltdown man... other than that I'm done)

                    What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

                    by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:30:11 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You might as well be done, then: (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      onanthebarbarian, grover

                      I haven't posted anything about the Piltdown man, one way or the other.   Having trouble reading, again?

                      You're the one setting idiosyncratic parameters for extraordinary ("Extraordinary means it will never be accepted until the current generation of experts dies"), not me.  I suggested "paradigm-challenging", and that is a simple qualitative test.  And how we conduct science pretty much matches that test: back to the shrew and sasquatch example.  The greater the challenge to the paradigm, the greater evidence required before people will accept it.  I'm not sure why that's a difficult concept.

                      I get that you're grinding an axe against people who use "extraordinary" to reject anything they disagree with... Which is why I keep telling you you're making a rhetorical argument.  Rhetorical = rhetoric = not people making evidentiary arguments, it's people using language dodges to avoid looking at the evidentiary argument.  It's an act of language I'm talking about, not "rhetorical" in the sense of "rhetorical question".

                      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                      by pico on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:42:55 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  well yes (0+ / 0-)
                        I get that you're grinding an axe against people who use "extraordinary" to reject anything they disagree with..
                        I've never seen or heard it used otherwise than rhetorically, nor do I expect to in this lifetime.

                        What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

                        by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 05:20:55 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  I do not disagree in principle (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pico

                with the idea that some claims may require greater evidence.  I view this as open to discussion. I find the current discussion quite interesting, and both sides have made some good points.

                I merely reject the "extraordinary proof" device as being an excuse to ignore evidence. It is indeed a matter of rhetoric, important because it is used as an improper evidentiary standard for the purpose of rejecting claims that merit closer investigation.

                •  We're mostly on the same page. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  wilderness voice

                  I'd ask, though: is the a point where a reader no longer has any obligation to weigh purported evidence?

                  e.g. to use the most infamous example of what's banned on this site: is a reader who may not know the melting point of steel required to read up on chemistry to reject that as part of a "9/11 was an inside job" argument?   To what extent does the extraordinariness of a claim allow an average reader to skip the specific evidence?  Or is that never the case?

                  I don't have an answer here: I'm poking around the margins of the argument.

                  Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                  by pico on Sat May 11, 2013 at 06:23:09 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  good question and interesting example (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    pico

                    >is there a point where a reader no longer has any obligation to weigh purported evidence?

                    Re the "inside job" CT claim that fuel laden jetliners could not have brought down the towers:  Based on my knowledge, as an engineer, of the difficulty of accurately modeling a complex one time event, it is all to easy to miss some unanticipated failure mode. So I reject this kind of evidence as inadequate. I don't think an engineering degree is required to validly make this argument.

                    I would contrast that with my diary, here, demonstrating that scientific materialism is inadequate as a theory of mind.  All the evidence needed to evaluate this contention is presented first hand in the brief diary itself.   I would submit that anyone wishing to validly reject the conclusion would be required to have read and understood the diary.

          •  I think it's ridiculous (0+ / 0-)

            to suggest that zoologists would accept blurry pictures, grainy videos, and casual observer reports as conclusive evidence that these shrews are a different species from those shrews.  But I am not a zoologist.

            What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

            by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:20:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Re-read my original comment. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              onanthebarbarian

              I don't know how many times I have to underline the word "hypothesis".    

              You should also check out the history of ornithology, because that's exactly what we had to do before photography became fast, accurate, and widespread.  We still debate the significance of the purely observational record, but we don't dismiss it the way we dismiss observational records of the sasquatch.  Right?

              Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

              by pico on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:00:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Shit, you made me look it up. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whaddaya, skohayes
        The "Bulo Burti Boubou", formerly recognized as a distinct species, Laniarius liberatus, was only known from one individual trapped in 1988 in central Somalia, 140 km inland in Hiiraan gobolka (region) near Buuloburde (Buulobarde, Bulo Burti) on the Shebelle River, and was described using blood and feather samples to provide a DNA sequence.[5] Apparently for the first time for a modern bird description, no specimen (either the bird or a part of it) was kept as a type; the bird was released back into the wild in 1990 because the scientists who caught it felt that the species was very rare. The blood and feather samples were destroyed in the process of sequencing. The epithet liberatus ("the liberated one") was given because of this. It was not found during searches in 1989 and 1990. It resembles the Red-naped Bushshrike L. ruficeps but has no red nape, is black, not grey, on the mantle, and is washed buffy-yellow on throat and breast.
        Wikipedia says you're wrong.

        What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

        by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:42:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Heh, well if WIKIPEDIA says I'm wrong... (4+ / 0-)

          If that's your standard for evidence, then this is probably a waste of my time, but...

          Reread what I wrote carefully this time.  "Credible observation" is the standard for a hypothesis - not for addition of a species to a type, which is a consensus and independent verification issue (and a big mess of a debate over what constitutes a species).  This is how taxonomies are built: it's especially true of harder-to-collect specimens like birds, insects, etc.  Here, for example, is how the Montana Audubon handles new species observation:

          According to the MBRC bylaws, a new species can be added to the state list only if it has been verified by a specimen or convincing photograph, or if the Committee accepts written documentation by two or more independent observers.
          Even multiple, independent documentation can be rejected in the long run - the American Ornithologists' Union (which does exist!) sets a higher bar even for existing specimens because they abide by a narrower rule of defining species - but it's a widely accepted standard for starting this discussion, and it wouldn't turn any heads.

          There is no "credible observation" standard for a sasquatch, for obvious reasons.  Science does operate on the "extraordinary claims" principle.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:22:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  state list? (0+ / 0-)

            those aren't new species, those are species known to exist in other locations which happen to turn up in Montana.

            What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

            by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:33:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm trying to explain how taxonomies (4+ / 0-)

              are constructed.  

              Look, I'll put it very simply:

              1. An observer describes what she claims is a new species of shrew.  This starts a conversation.

              2. An observer describes what she claims is a new species of sasquatch.  This ends a conversation.

              There are epistemologically sound reasons why we hold those two claims to different levels of scrutiny.

              Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

              by pico on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:37:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And there may be good practical reasons (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wilderness voice

                why the sasquatch claim in particular should receive more careful scrutiny than the shrews; however "because it's extraordinary damn it" is not a good reason.  

                I worry far less about extraordinary claims receiving only ordinary scrutiny than I do about ordinary claims receiving no scrutiny at all.  See this comment.

                What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

                by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:03:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  What? (4+ / 0-)
                  however "because it's extraordinary damn it" is not a good reason.  
                  Of course it is!  Shrews exist.  Different species of shrews exist.  Nothing known to be a sasquatch of any kind exists.

                  The extraordinary nature of the latter claim is exactly why we demand more careful scrutiny.  That is the practical reason a higher bar exists.

                  Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                  by pico on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:53:31 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Providing a living specimen of (0+ / 0-)

      Sasquatch would be extraordinary. It's not about "standard of proof" it's about proof rather than a shadow that looked like it could have been something if you look at the right way.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Sun May 12, 2013 at 09:10:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the statement is essentially baynesian (4+ / 0-)

    Say you have an extraordinary claim that before hand you might assume was only true 1% of the time.  Now lets assume we find some evidence that you'd find if the claim were true 95% of the time, but you'd also find it when the claim is false 2% of the time.  This would seem to be pretty damning evidence, right?  Well if you do the math, even with this evidence the odds of the claim being true is only 32%.

  •  I think "extraordinary proof" (31+ / 0-)

    Is a pretty good standard.

    I looked through that thread (with comments) and I saw the argument extraordinarily proven well, unless by "extraordinariy" proof in that case, we have to peel back someone's scalp and probe her brain for intent.

    The thing is, claims of plagiarism are not "extraordinary." The Kossack who dropped that little nugget was wrong and should have been confronted on that. Plagiarism is a rather mundane easy to prove or disprove matter. Ask any high school or college English or history teacher.

    The real problem I see within that diary's comments is the unwillingness to do what we're supposed to be be proud of here: being a reality-based community.

    No, when a "respected" Kossack does something probably untoward (unethical, immoral, illegal), some folks circle the wagons and start shooting outward. Realty be damned!

    Extraordinary proof applies to extraordinary claims like conspiracy theories, outrageous unsourced  claims of misconduct by public officials (which, sigh, sometimes are true), that sort of thing.

    In other words, we don't repeat rumors, we don't chase rats (or squirrels? sorry!) down tunnels to see where they might go.

    It's a good standard.

    When invoked inappropriately, though, we need to say so, and most vociferously.

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:42:06 AM PDT

    •  to assess the worth of this standard (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quill, whaddaya

      it is appropriate to compare it to other standards such as "beyond a reasonable doubt ".  The latter would certainly suffice to evaluate the extraordinary claims cited in your comment.  The problem with the "extraordinary proof" standard is that it is highly subjective and is to prone to exactly the kind of inappropriate invocation you cite.  Why encourage the "dropping of that little nugget" when objective standards are available?

      •  See my comment (4+ / 0-)

        Down thread here.

        There ARE reasonable and accepted times to invoke that standard, just like there are reasonable and accepted times to HR comments.

        The problem, of course, is that these can be used inappropriately -- out of ignorance (someone may not understand what the standard really means), to retaliate against someone they don't like, to protect a pal, or for a myriad of other reasons.

        I don't like throwing out babies with bathwather. I've seen too many ugly CTs, anti-vaxxer, and other genuinely harmful  arguments propounded on this site.

        Folks who believe that stuff don't need a reasonable doubt to disbelieve, they need ALL doubt removed. And as jury instructions tell you, you don't need that to convict someone. Why? Because removing ALL Doubt is really difficult (if not impossible).

        To use a current example, when folks want to argue that government is stockpiling bullets to use against the people, well, reasonable proof to remove reasonable doubt  doesn't work because these folks aren't working on reason. So we would require extraordinary proof, which none exists. So we HR the diary as unproven CT.

        I think I'm rambling a bit. But does that make sense?

        © grover


        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:18:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you are making my point for me (6+ / 0-)

          "Extraordinary proof" is typically invoked as a demand to remove ALL doubt in the mind of the beholder according to their own standards.  Proof "Beyond a reasonable doubt" is not subject to such subjectivity, and would suffice to dispose of the harmful arguments you cite.  Actually, "clear and convincing" or even "preponderance of the evidence" would suffice.

          •  But I'm not. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DeadHead, skohayes, tytalus

            Someone posts a diary that says the government is buying up all ammo to send us into FEMA camps.

            We come back and demand, "extraordinary proof!"

            Preponderance of evidence might be a couple cites from other news sources (Fox and examiner.com) and a Congressman, Jamrs Inhofe.

            Normally, 2 news sources and a Congressman would be more than adequate, right?  Yes, even those sources might be considered appropriate depending on the nature of the story (perhaps one digging up dirt on an Imhofe competitor for congress).

            No. This is an extraordinary claim.

            So, extraordinary proof. More proof. That may be proof from non-partisan sources.  Proof from (reputable) foreign sources based on foreign intel. Proof from official federal or state agencies. Photos that can be proven to be un-edited. Invoices for millions of single-wides and interviews of utility workers saying that they're setting up giant trailer parks in Area 51.

            Extraordinary proof.

            We don't censor people here. Well, we try hard not to. But we don't allow Crazy Talk to stand unchallenged either.

            The more extraordinary the claim, the more extraordinary the proof required.  Its not a static burden. Some claims are less outrageous and require a little less proof.  Each time, the Kossacks sliding in and out of the diary are the jury -- not only of the claims and proof, but of whether that standard should be invoked at all.

            © grover


            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

            by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:40:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Btw, "beyond all reasonable doubt" (0+ / 0-)

            Is absolutely subjective.

            What's reasonable doubt for me, based on my lifetime experience, may not be at all "reasonable" for you.

            It's a very good legal standard. But there is nothing objective about it.

            Neither, obviously, is a preponderance of evidence.

            Ask anyone who has been in jury deliberations for several days or weeks.

            Or a judge.

            :)

            © grover


            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

            by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:45:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  beyond *a* reasonable doubt (0+ / 0-)

              Having been a juror, and having known others who have, I can tell you that reasonable doubts can be articulated and discussed in the jury room even though people may not always agree.  Although usually they do.  

              "Extraordinary proof"?  Good luck on getting people to agree on what that is supposed to mean.  Just look at the comments here for evidence of that.

          •  We scientists just call that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dream weaver

            probability.

            Semantic problem solved. Thank you, thank you, no autographs right now, sorry.

            There is a very high probability, based on verified comparison of texts, that Noddy plagiarized.  But it is possible both are the same person and playing a game with the community.

            What s not even remotely probable (minimally possible in some universe) is that both diarists accidentally wrote the same multiple word for word alike diaries.  That claim would indeed require extraordinary evidence to be considered even possible, let alone probable or proven.  Could it happen? Sure, once in many millions of years if you posit pure chance as the mechanism. Maybe this is that once.

            Yeah right.

            “I wore black because ... it's still my symbol of rebellion -- against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others' ideas.” -- Johnny Cash

            by RocketJSquirrel on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:21:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ok, I'm deferring to the Squirrel with the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RocketJSquirrel

              Science background.

              What's the probability of  such a critter actually existing?  

              Now, if you say your background is in physics or aerodynamics, watching the squirrels in my backyard dodge the resident canines by swinging from tree to wire to house, while accounting for the strength of the often hellacious winds we have here, I'd say the probability is pretty good.

              But if you claim your background is in nuclear fission, I might call that extraordinary.

              ;)

              © grover


              So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

              by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:49:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Psychiatry (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wilderness voice

                Squirrels r experts on nuts

                “I wore black because ... it's still my symbol of rebellion -- against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others' ideas.” -- Johnny Cash

                by RocketJSquirrel on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:52:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And crazy canines? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RocketJSquirrel

                  Swing  by my house when you get some time,  and give it to me straight, Doc.

                  Just take the electrical grid west until you see the big tree, hop on the house.  Take the fence over to the shed. The large branch with take you up to the treehouse. You should be able to observe safely from there.

                  Thanks.

                  © grover


                  So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

                  by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:57:51 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  ^^^^This!^^^^ (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover, skrekk, whaddaya

      The evidence provided through the diarist's links, as well as through some of the commenters' comparisons of text from both diarists, with dates of each is compelling.

      I think it is appropriate to allow the accused plagiarist a chance to rebut, but the evidence to date makes for a very solid case.

      A claim such as, "I own that car," is pretty ordinary, and would usually be accepted in the absence of a dispute.  In the presence of a dispute, the claimant should be expected to produce a title or owner registration.  

      On the other hand, a claim such as, "I own a time-travelling police box that is larger on the inside than the outside," is extraordinary and would require proof of ownership, proof of time-travelling ability, and proof of size differential inside-to-out.

      So requiring extraordinary proof for extraordinary claims is entirely appropriate.  However, calling this claim (of plagiarism) extraordinary is not appropriate.

      Socialist? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

      by Kimbeaux on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:10:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Recommended for not chasing squirrels (0+ / 0-)

      and for truth!

      “I wore black because ... it's still my symbol of rebellion -- against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others' ideas.” -- Johnny Cash

      by RocketJSquirrel on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:15:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the problem with that diary ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, DeadHead, tytalus

      It didn't provide sufficient proof, by itself, though it was readily available.  It felt like a hit-and-run until commenters began to do the research.

  •  I don't think the actual problem with that (4+ / 0-)

    diary was that it was an extraordinary claim. I think the diarist didn't really provide proof. Only LINKS to proof, with no real commentary. It wasn't something that was easily understood without the reader having to do lot of research. A reader shouldn't have to research to find a diarist's proofs.

    It is true that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. But the diarist's claim wasn't all that extraordinary. The readers felt they were, as they respect the accused. All the diarist needed to do was provide the proofs that commenters later did from the get go.

    I'd like to start a new meme: "No means no" is a misnomer. It should be "Only 'Yes' means yes." Just because someone doesn't say "No" doesn't mean they've given consent. If she didn't say "Yes", there is no consent.

    by second gen on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:44:46 AM PDT

  •  I saw your original comment, and left it alone (3+ / 0-)

    because it didn't seem the time or place to go into a lot of history.

    Original context the rule applies to: Conspiracy theory diaries. Aliens from outer space, faking the moon landing, 'false flag' attacks, JFK conspiracy theories, etc..

    It is Admin policy that, in general, if you're going to produce and/or promulgate this type of theory, you'd better be prepared to come up with a whole lot more solid backup - "extraordinary proof" than is generally asked for in non CT diaries.

    The comment you cited was indeed using it incorrectly, and yes, that happens from time to time, but it should be corrected with a note to the commenter when it happens, because the Admin policy as stated 1) makes a fair amount of sense and 2) isn't going to change any time soon.

    Under most circumstances I'd agree fully with your stated premise, but here we're talking about its use re irrational, not rational, discourse.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:48:06 AM PDT

  •  The phrase you object to (9+ / 0-)

    It is most often employed by those indulging in subtantial conspiracy theories, and in those cases I believe it is perfectly appropriate. If you are going to claim that Obama orchestrated the Bengazi attacks with his Muslim brotherhood brothers, you'd better provide some extraordinary proof to back it up.

    In the diary you reference, it was used by someone who (like many of us here would) found it almost as implausable as the above example that the accused diarist had done what was being claimed. And initially the "evidende" was sparse.  Obviously, as commenters explored further  the proof was pretty clear.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:55:34 AM PDT

    •  exactly why that is a good case in point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCaliana, quill, whaddaya

      The accused is someone who has been well regarded here, and coming out of the blue, the accusation could be regarded as extraordinary.  Yet, the damning evidence was quite ordinary.  So the correct standard for this and the cases cited by the foregoing comments upthread is "beyond a reasonable doubt".  Just doesn't make for as good a catchphrase.

      •  I think other commenters have covered it well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whaddaya

        It is not that the proof itself is not "ordinary", but that the amount and quality may need to be relatively extraordinary to dispel doubts.

        “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

        by Catte Nappe on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:18:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just because 1-2 people believe a claim is (5+ / 0-)

        Extraordinary does not make it so.

        Heck, accuse MB of plagiarism, and I still dont think that is an extraordinary claim (although you do need to bring solid proof) .  Writers, even those held in the highest regard, are accused if plagiarism now and then. Jack London was. Doris Kearns Goodwin has Been. Alex Haley has been. Run of the mill authors, more so. I' m sorry, few dkos diarists are in the league of Jack Lindon.

        It happens.

        It's how this community reacts. The mature (and intellectually honest) thing is simply to say, "let's look at the evidence. Personalities should not matter."

        Let me repeat that:  Personalities should not matter

        This is not about "extraordinary claims." It's about some people trying to raise the bar extremely high when one of their friends is questioned.

        Well, none of us is above question. MB and Markos are willing to be questioned and will engage that person.   Why does anyone  think any other member is above that based on length of membership, how "respected" they are or other odd criteria?

        © grover


        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:59:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree. We may want more evidence (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        second gen, whaddaya

        against someone we know/like/respect than against someone we don't.  It's natural to want to defend someone well established in our community more vigorously than an outsider.  But that's wrong.  It's wrong because it is not just.

        The amount of evidence to prove the same case against either should be the same.  We are judging an action, not the person.  

        Socialist? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

        by Kimbeaux on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:29:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think experience here over the last couple (5+ / 0-)

          Years has shown that it's  very hard to "know" someone we've only met over Internet.

          Even people we've met in person a few times, we can only know so well.

          People are complicated and do things for their own reasons.

          As you conclude, it's best to evaluate the evidence as dispassionately as possible.

          © grover


          So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

          by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:42:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  YES! Thank you for pointing this out (4+ / 0-)

    One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone with an obvious bias dismisses a counter argument using a psuedo-logical assertion like this.

    The other one that gets my goat is the one I call "the Occam's Razor fallacy": someone rebuts a theory about how the political world works or how people behave not on the merits, but only because there is a "simpler" explanation (the one that supports their side, of course). It doesn't matter that the "simpler" theory does not fit the evidence - all the matters is that it appears to be less complex. The quote often deployed by these people is Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity", used to dismiss any conspiracy theory.

    History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce - Karl Marx

    by quill on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:03:39 AM PDT

    •  Some folks are really good (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whaddaya

      Pedants and really lazy thinkers and writers.

      I find it's useful to leave them in their bubbles of Internet Forum Talking Points and move on to people who actually want to discuss ideas.

      ;)

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:33:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bayes Rule tells us that, rationally (7+ / 0-)

    posterior belief in a hypothesis (p(H|D)) is proportional to the product of the evidence (p(D|H)) and the prior belief in the hypothesis (p(H)). In the simplest case of two competing hypotheses, if the evidence is equally likely under either hypothesis then relative posterior belief in the two hypotheses will be unchanged. If, however, the evidence is more likely under one hypothesis than another, posterior belief in the first hypothesis will be strengthened, relative to posterior belief in the second hypothesis.

    In the case of two hypotheses with strikingly different prior strengths - the belief that sasquatches do not exist is much stronger than the belief that sasquatches do exist - the data must be much more likely under the weaker hypothesis than the stronger hypothesis for belief in the originally weaker hypotheses to prevail in the end. In the case of sasquatches and shrews, the purported evidence will receive much more scrutiny in one case than the other (keep in mind that many specimen supporting extraordinary claims - e.g., Piltdown Man - have turned out to be hoaxes).

    Unlikely claims do require stronger evidence. This is one reading of "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". On the other hand, this 'catchy little phrase' is often used to assert that certain claims require unique types of evidence, which is false.

    •  The piltdown man (0+ / 0-)

      the only thing extraordinary about it was that it turned up in England... other than that it was exactly what scientists at the time expected to find.

      So the Piltdown hoax succeeded not because an extraordinary claim failed to receive extraordinary scrutiny, but because a fairly ordinary claim failed to receive fairly ordinary scrutiny.

      What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

      by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:41:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It seems to me that "extraordinary proof" doesn't (10+ / 0-)

    mean that there is a higher STANDARD, just that bringing enough evidence to dispel "reasonable doubt" (or whatever) is harder when the claim is inherently implausible.  "Reasonable doubt" isn't some fixed standard - the evidence required to eliminate reasonable doubt changes based on the circumstances of a case.  

    If I'm prosecuting a domestic violence case and the facts are clear that the victim and defendant were home on the night of the alleged incident and that they had a history of marital problems and he was a drunk who routinely got into fights and often roughed her up, well...her testimony and that of the arresting officer might be all I need to eliminate reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors.  If I'm prosecuting a murder case and the defendant and victim were strangers and there's no apparent motive, I'm going to have to bring forth a lot more evidence to win my case.  

    A violent, abusive alcoholic assaulting his wife is more plausible than one stranger killing another for no reason.  The standard is always "beyond a reasonable doubt," but the kind of evidence I have to bring varies because one case is inherently plausible and the other is not.

    •  no argument with the example as set forth in your (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, Kimbeaux, whaddaya

      comment.  My gripe is that the "extraordinary proof" standard is all too often used to dismiss evidence that is probative or even dispositive of the case.

      •  Fair enough. But I think the response (4+ / 0-)

        would just be that, hey, this evidence might be relevant, but given the inherent implausibility of the claim, it's still not enough to change my mind.  

        If I tell you X spent time in a Muslim country as a child, certainly that's relevant/probative as to that person's religious beliefs, no question.  But if that's the only evidence you have for a claim that the president is a secret Muslim, that's not going to do it, because the claim (at least for us here at DKos!) is inherently ridiculous.  

        •  It's inherently ridiculous for all (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          whaddaya, misslegalbeagle

          The problem is that FoxNews watchers believe so many ridiculous things that this doesn't move the needle.

          Americans can make our country better.

          by freelunch on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:34:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Relevant, possibly. Not probative, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          whaddaya, misslegalbeagle

          especially in light of the counter claim that he is Christian.  Add in his attendance at Christian churches, his relationships with Christian pastors, photos of him drinking beer and certain knowledge that not everyone who has spent time in a Muslim country is a Muslim and this evidence becomes profoundly insufficient.

          Socialist? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

          by Kimbeaux on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:37:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Of course. When I said "probative," (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wilderness voice, grover

            I meant in the general sense that the religious tradition of the country where someone grows up is likely to correlate with their adult religious beliefs.  That was it.  My apologies if it came off otherwise.  In the legal world, probative and relevant tend to be used pretty interchangeably.  

            •  Hmmm, my initial reading of the definition (3+ / 0-)

              of probative seems to be incorrect.  I read it as providing sufficient evidence to prove, whereas your use seems to be more in accord with a closer reading of providing evidence for.

              I therefore cannot accept your apology--as you are correct--but must instead offer my own.  :)

              Socialist? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

              by Kimbeaux on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:22:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I don't see it that way (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whaddaya, ebohlman

        Most of the time extraordinary claims are dismissed because they are extraordinary and the alleged supporting evidence for the claim is either nonexistent or supportive of dozens of other interpretations as well.

        If you accuse Charles of killing Diana with a candlestick in the drawing room, it would be helpful to know where Diana died and how and why there is an accusation against Charles. This is where the unhinged decided to go all conspiracy theory to defend their claims -- and where I freely dismiss their claims.

        Americans can make our country better.

        by freelunch on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:33:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I Have the Feeling That "Extraordinary" Probably (4+ / 0-)

    refers more to quantity than quality of proof.

    Claims seem to me to be usually regarded as extraordinary because they run counter to a significant breadth of experience and established thought, sometimes extending well beyond the question at hand.

    In that case it would be necessary to show how the claim fits into a number of areas that were thought to be well understood.

    The JFK Magic Bullet Theory is a matter of physical positions and velocities of a few objects on one street. That's not necessarily an extraordinary claim.

    The Grassy Knoll theory though suddenly opens up questions of conspiracy extending to the Mob, CIA, Klan and who knows what other people and entities. I don't think proof of any of it would in itself be extraordinary, but it would take an extraordinary amount and range of proof to follow all the obvious implications out to their logical conclusions.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:10:23 AM PDT

  •  Or, with a more relevant example (5+ / 0-)

    If you looked at the Iraq war intelligence on the "ordinary evidence" standard, you saw that every individual piece of evidence fell apart when scrutinized.  Anyone tuning out the public discourse and looking at the evidence would have reached the right conclusion: that any weapons Iraq had were old useless rusty hulks.

    If, however, you assumed that the government wasn't lying to you, and that there were mountains of secret evidence which couldn't be scrutinized, and that conventional wisdom inside and outside of government must be correct... then the assertion that the government was lying about Iraqi WMDs was an extraordinary claim.  And the burden of proof was put on the peace advocates to not merely prove a negative, but to provide extraordinary evidence proving a negative.

    What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

    by happymisanthropy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:12:45 AM PDT

  •  Ironic diary placements, given the diary directly (10+ / 0-)

    ... below this one on the Recent list.

    This was pretty convincing.

    Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

    by Bob Johnson on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:18:01 AM PDT

    •  Oopsie, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, Susan G in MN

      Think I'll go and put some nuts out.

      Ron Reagan: "Sarah Palin's constituency are people who wear red rubber noses and bells on their shoes."

      by AnnetteK on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:50:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for that. (0+ / 0-)

      As a writer, photographer and a former English teacher, I consider intellectual property theft the same as (actually worse than) if someone walked into my house and stole my TV.

      At least TVs are easily insured and replaceable.

      I hope this community has ridded itself of the idea that claims of plagiarism are ipso facto  extraordinary, regardless of who respects whom.

      After all, respect can be misplaced.

      (Ear scritches to Rex, please. Hope he's enjoying this lovely spring day.)

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:54:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  To be fair (4+ / 0-)

    I think many of the people in that diary that seemed skeptical of the claim expressed that opinion before much easy to access evidence was posted.

    I, too, was skeptical of the claim and hoped to find evidence that it was not true.  Alas, that is not what I found.

  •  Most of the time it's applied to conspiracy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

    theories. Including some on this site. It's perfectly acceptable in these cases. For example, if you claim that 9/11 was a conspiracy by Martians you would need to present some pretty extraordinary evidence of that.

  •  I would agree that this was a misuse of (3+ / 0-)

    the "extraordinary evidence" standard, but not that the standard itself is invalid.

    The hypothetical Sasquatch example is not helpful. Attempting to reason about counterfactuals is entirely too slippery, and we don't need to bother with it. We have so many real examples, both positive and negative, to choose from. Here are a few notable cases.

    • Although Copernican astronomy, with planets going around the sun and distant stars not moving, gave rise to more accurate navigation tables, it had little observational support until Galileo turned his telescope on the Moon, sunspots, the moons of Jupiter, and so on, and only minor theoretical advantages until Kepler worked out elliptical orbits, Newton provided a gravitational mechanism to generate elliptical orbits, and Halley demonstrated that comets move in highly elliptical orbits that would have smashed into the previously supposed crystalline spheres.
    • Lord Kelvin disputed the ages of geological formations in part because there was no mechanism then known for the sun to shine more than a few thousand years. Then radioactivity was discovered in 1896. It took until the 1930s to work out the proton-proton fusion chain in the sun.
    • Einstein received his Nobel prize for his work on the photoelectric effect, which was an essential step toward Quantum Mechanics. Both of his Relativity theories were regarded as too controversial at that time, and insufficiently established. Both have been amply confirmed over the century since, through extraordinary observations on masses of accelerated particles, extended lifetimes of accelerated particles, gravitational lensing, black holes, the Cosmic Background Radiation, and much, much more.
    • Einstein hated indeterminacy in QM, and worked out a number of manifest absurdities and impossibilities that it implied. Experimentalists verified in the lab that every one of them was true. Thanks, Albert.
    • Any schoolchild could have come up with the thought that Africa and South America must have been joined at one time, because they fit together so well. Many did. But this idea was firmly rejected when everybody knew that solid continents cannot move. Until the discovery of seafloor spreading gave us plate tectonics.
    • Cold Fusion Epic Fail.
    • The apparent measurement of the flight time of neutrinos from CERN to Gran Sasso at slightly greater than the speed of light was published, not as overthrowing relativity, but with a plea for help in finding the assumed error. It turned out to be due to an improperly connected cable and a clock oscillator running too fast.

    In each of these cases, there were those who considered the existing evidence strong enough, and those who poked holes in it and held out for more. Sometimes an entirely new class of evidence became available to settle the matter. Sometimes the original evidence turned out to be bogus.

    The "extraordinary evidence" standard is bandied about in all of the major denialist controversies and conspiracy theories in order to deny that we do have the ordinary or extraordinary evidence required, and to claim that on the contrary the opponents have the extraordinary evidence, even though they don't know in many cases what evidence is.

    Anti-"Darwinism", Creationism in its many other guises, AIDS denial, Global Warming denial, Birtherism, 9/11 Trutherism, BenghaziGate…in almost all of these we have thousands, millions, even billions of facts on our side, and racism, bigotry, attempted theocracy, abject fear, and above all political power and money on the other.

    We are actually winning, very slowly, in just the same way that Copernicus and Galileo were vindicated. Relatively few were ever convinced, but the opposition gradually died, and every year more young people went with the new evidence and the improved theoretical understanding. Currently, opinion on most major issues is moving our way at a rate of 1% of the US population annually. It is faster on some (LGBT rights, for example), and slower on others (abortion, for example).

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:39:48 PM PDT

    •  I don't disagree with the examples you cited (0+ / 0-)

      with the exception that special relativity is neatly confirmed by the very ordinary observation of the existence of magnetic fields. Be that as it may, I do not agree that these examples support the "extraordinary evidence" standard.  They are merely the discovery of new evidence that puts the situation in a different light.  Kind of like the extraordinary claim that a respected member of the site is a plagiarist, followed by the ordinary evidence of the wayback machine, which was rejected because it was not "extraordinary" enough. Which is my point - the "extraordinary evidence" standard is used to reject perfectly good evidence.

  •  You have missed the point. (0+ / 0-)

    Keeping with a legal reasoning, if a person witnessed to have hit an ATM with a hammer and removed cash, claims that an invisible djinn held his arms and made his swing the hammer and grab the money, he must have extraordinary proof of his claim. The phrase does not refer to any claim that actually has evidence, but those that are proposed as alternatives to simple rational explanations.

    Don't believe everything you see on the cop/lawyer TV shows.

    The GOP: A wholly owned subsidary of Corporate America.

    by ceratotherium on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:22:18 PM PDT

    •  try again. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover

      the case in point was a person who was witnessed to have plagiarized but the evidence was rejected because it was not extraordinary enough.  As to your example, it is evidence of who it is that watches too much TV.

    •  Actually, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      He doesn't have to PROVE anything.

      He's a criminal defendant being tried for a crime, yes?

      Defense has no burden to prove their case in a criminal case. They can sit there quietly, and never call a witness.

      The state has to prove its case.

      I'm not interjecting this to be cute either. I think in the era of crime shows and the most vile Nancy Grace, people often forget that a defendant must be presumed innocent until the state proves him guilty.

      I think you need may to be careful of watching a bit too much of that crime show TV.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Sun May 12, 2013 at 02:10:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sometimes I forget (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    what attracted me to dKos in the first place. I've been taking a break from politics, but this thread is the most philosophically interesting debate I've read here in some time. Bravo to all contributors ( in lieu of rec-ing every comment ).

    Facts don't stop being facts just because no one listens to them. - Aldous Huxley

    by bisleybum on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:25:41 PM PDT

  •  I kinda like the phrase (3+ / 0-)

    But I'm not into pie fights anywhere on the internet and especially not on DK, so I'm essentially clueless as to what this is about.

    The phrase itself originally comes in a roundabout way from Hume's attack on claims of miracles (in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding)  and was popularized by Carl Sagan, who also seems to have originated the term "scientific skepticism."  There's even a nice wikipedia page on this phrase:  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Please don't confuse a rhetorical misuse of a phrase by blowhards, piefighters, and pseudoskeptics with the legitimate ideas of scientific skepticism.

    Watch this if you have any doubts about the usefulness of the phrase.  

    Tell me what to write. tellmewhattowrite.com 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

    by rbird on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:09:21 PM PDT

  •  Very True (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    "Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Proof" is a false argument.

    I've come across situations of this nature a few times in my life & the extraordinary evidence requirement is a BS claim, usually used by someone who doesn't fully understand the issue &/or just wants to try to win an argument.

    Extraordinary: going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary

    In reality all that is needed is regular evidence, nothing more, despite what the claim may be. Anyone who follows science or law already knows this.

    :(

  •  This reminds me of one of another phrase... (0+ / 0-)

    ...that I hear (or read) quite often.

    "You can't prove a negative."

    Now, I'm not quite sure what a "negative" is, but I gather from context that it is something resembling a universally quantified statement (that is, the negation of an existentially quantified statement, at least in classical logic).

    The only problem with this (well, maybe not the only problem) is that I "prove negatives" all the time, and doing so is a rather mundane everyday activity for lots of folks.

    I always have to chuckle whenever I hear somebody say this.

  •  Challenging Evidence (0+ / 0-)

    This argument reminds me of the book I'm covering in my Sunday night Sci-Fi/Fantasy series: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World.  In it, an antagonistic zoologist named Challenger claims to have discovered living dinosaurs.  Unfortunately for him, most of his evidence was lost or damaged in his trip home and his colleagues, who find him an abrasive crank, label him a fraud.

    Mr. Summerlee desired to know how it was that Professor Challenger claimed to have made discoveries in those regions which had been overlooked by Wallace, Bates, and other previous explorers of established scientific repute.

    Professor Challenger answered that Mr. Summerlee appeared to be confusing the Amazon with the Thames; that it was in reality a somewhat larger river ... and that in so vast a space it was not impossible for one person tofind what another had missed.

    Mr. Summerlee declared, with an acid smile, that he fully appreciated the difference between the Thames and the Amazon, which lay in the fact that any assertion about the former could be tested, while about the latter it could not.

    Challenger was born to early.  He would have loved the Internet.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:00:21 AM PDT

  •  I have only used this phrase when (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    addressing religious claims. I makes sense to me to apply that standard to much of religion, since most of it involves extraordinary claims that seem to be accepted by a good portion of the world (pretty scary when you think about it).

    Here is a statement I saw on Daily Kos recently... "God exists outside of time." Now it's one level of claim to state that there is a "God", but to me an extra level to claim on top of that this "God" exists outside of time itself.   I asked for proof and of course got a lot of bluster and evasion. So my response was well, that's a pretty extraordinary claim, so I think you need some level of evidence that matches the two claims in that statement.

    •  indeed (0+ / 0-)

      that is where the phrase is most often employed.  I contend that an ordinary evidence standard is sufficient to debate such claims and that demanding extraordinary evidence merely muddies the waters.  Your demand for "some level of evidence" is justified and sufficient.

      In the example you cited I would first ask for a definition of God.  By some definitions the God concept is not even testable. However if one were to define God as "omnipotent, omniscient and compassionate", one look at the headlines refutes such an idea, at least as we would ordinarily understand the meaning of "compassionate".

      Lest we be too smug about the successes of Scientific Materialism, it is not satisfactory as a theory of mind.  I prove that contention in this dairy, with reference only to the ordinary evidence of everyday experience.

  •  I, myself, have used the phrase -- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    and now hang my head in shame.  You're totally right, wv.  

    "Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor's mailbox." -- Willie Stargell

    by Yasuragi on Sun May 12, 2013 at 08:24:46 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site