Evidence of Unlearning
"The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." –Carl Sagan
I love the above quote. It may take a little time to process its meaning but if you can–and, more important, if you can really takes it message to heart–you will have taken a big step down the path of unlearning.
To better understand, consider this story from Anthony de Mello:
When a man whose marriage was in trouble sought his advice, the Master said, "You must learn to listen to your wife."
The man took his advice to heart and returned after a month to say that he had learned to listen to every word his wife was saying.
Said the Master with a smile, "Now go home and listen to every word she isn't saying."
For another example, consider almost any news article you read. After you are done, examine the article for what wasn't said.
Searching for things that aren't there and listening to people for things they don't say, is difficult; but if you can develop these skills you will come to see the world more clearly. The evidence is all around us.
One thought on “Evidence of Unlearning”
It’s ironic that you cite “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” (which, by the way, was cosmologist Martin Rees’ aphorism, not Carl Sagan’s), to introduce using what is absent (what wasn’t said, what isn’t there) as evidence.
Indeed, this “absence of evidence” maxim is one you should unlearn, since it is false. Frex, if you investigate the Monster Under Your Bed by looking underneath your bed, and find an absence of evidence for said monster, that is, in fact, evidence of the monster’s absence.
Or to put it in mathematical language: P(monster|~evidence of monster) < P(monster|evidence of monster)
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