Declaration of Procedures, Principles,
FOM Guidelines, References and Terms
Descartes is, and always will be, a public domain, protocol driven Truth Engine, built and provided by The American Truth Project. Its purpose is to provide a rigorous set of “tools” consisting of procedures, principles, Figure of Merit Guidelines and references, that together can be used to explore and ultimately determine probability of "truth", using a Figure of Merit system of 1-99%.
First, develop a statement that fully describes your hypothesis.
At this point the statement should include all points that support your hypothesis even if they appear to be weak.
Further, try to develop an analogy of your hypothesis that is known to be true. Use it to generate insights.
Be aware that you have an obligation to address obvious negatives that may denigrate your hypothesis. Also be aware, too many negatives may be an indication of a weak hypothesis.
Second, break the statement into its most fundamental parts. Identify the statements subject, then all of its premises.
Example: Consider the statement "If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck". 'It's a duck' constitutes the subject, and the premise might be considered to be 'quacks like a duck'. i.e. a duck (subject) may be identified by the fact that it quacks (premise).
Pose Questions of each part: Who? What? When? Where? Why? - Are the facts established directly or are they implied? - Are there any other explanations, exceptions or special conditions that apply? - Are there any hidden or subtle issues? - Is the source a 2nd party and thus dependent on the integrity of that source? What is the quality or Figure of Merit of the source? In other words, wring out your hypothesis. Get to know it very well.
Third, evaluate each premise to determine if it depends on some reference or standard. If it does, assign a figure of merit for the reference as well as the premise.
If results are not satisfactory and appear to be "attackable", then probably your hypothesis needs to be trimmed and refined. Refine and restate your hypothesis then return to the first step and repeat the process.
Fourth, when results are satisfactory: A) Assign a figure of merit of 1-99% to each premise based on its value in support of the hypothesis. B) Assign a figure of merit of 1-99% to each premise based on its probability of truth. See the Figure of Merit Guidelines below.
Multiply A x B of each premise. Add all the A x B values and divide by the total number to obtain an average. This average will yield the preliminary Figure of Merit of its truth and will be included with your hypothesis.
Note: In this protocol the upper limit for a Figure of Merit will be 99% and the lower limit 1%, in deference to the philosophical argument that it is difficult if not impossible to "absolutely" ascertain that any proposition, theory or scientific law exists (100%) or does not exist (0)%.
The key to this all of course will depend on "how" and "who" will arrive at intermediate and final assessments. There have been possibilities suggested, all of which have merit which will eventually be laid out here, but to do so now might skew and mislead meaningful discussion of the topic. So, for right now it seems appropriate to open this up for discussion in the Descartes General Discussion section of the forum.
Further, nothing about the truth engines protocol is carved in stone and if warranted can be, and probably will be altered. It is the hope of The American Truth Project that other "affiliate" American Truth Projects as they are created and come on line, will stay with the original truth engine Descartes, so that we all, here in America and the world over, will be reading and operating from the same page.
Descartes will honor the following:
1) The Correspondence Theory of Truth, unless it can be shown that other theories of truth are as appropriate. The theory can be basically stated: “The truth is that which corresponds to the facts.”
2) The truth is indivisible, there is only one truth.
3) No proposition can be both true and false - The Law of Non Contradiction.
4) All propositions are either true or false - The Law of The Excluded Middle.
5) Descartes Figure of Merit will have an upper limit of 99% and a lower limit of 1%, in deference to the philosophical argument that it is difficult if not impossible to "absolutely" ascertain the existence (100%) or nonexistence (0%) of any proposition, theory or scientific law.
6) Occams Razor: When two competing hypotheses explain the data equally well, choose the simpler. Named for Eng. philosopher William of Ockham (c.1285-c.1349).
Figure of Merit Guidelines
The following are guidelines TATP will tentatively adhere to when evaluating the quality of evidence supporting a particular premise. The figures, indeed the entire system may by altered as we progress and exchange ideas. That exchange will take place primarily in the “Descartes - General” section of the forum.
The guideline below will tentatively be used when our target is the truth of any other issue except court trials. Court trials use a different standard or Burden of Proof, which in a criminal trial is: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt usually defined as “any doubt which would make a reasonable person hesitate in the most important of his or her affairs.”
Prima Facie Evidence (on its face): 99%
Direct Evidence (proves a fact without inference or presumption): 90-99%
Circumstantial Evidence (indirect evidence that implies a fact but does not prove it); of the type that is not dependent upon human input: 50-90%
Circumstantial Evidence (indirect evidence that implies a fact but does not prove it); of the type that is dependent upon human input: 50-70%
Witness (including expert witnesses); single/uncorroborated: 50-70%
Witness (including expert witnesses); multiple/corroborated and/or with positive special circumstances: 50-99%
Facts are determined by comparing and likening things to other things of known value and character. While sometimes facts are verifiable directly, they may also use or require a "reference", or something that can be referred to as an authority or standard.
It is appropriate that we establish references and even standards. The following will be tentatively accepted as references by The American Truth Project:
1) The Oxford American Dictionary.
2) Wikipedia - the online encyclopedia.
3) The United States Constitution - a self contained document in which exceptions or special conditions are explicitly stated.
4) United States Code of Federal Regulations or CFR, as well as the codified regulations of all other states, counties and cities.
5) United States Supreme Court decisions and decisions of all 50 State Supreme Courts.
6) Blacks Dictionary - The most widely accepted dictionary of legal terms in the U.S. - Considered "Prima Facie" in all U.S. Courts.
7) The theory of human motivation and need. Establishes a set of seven basic needs that occur in a hierarchy that all human beings identically possess. Useful in determining behavioral motivation as a function of need - see Motivation and Need Theory by: Abraham H. Maslow.
8) U.S. Federal Register - The official newspaper of the United States of America. Official U.S. policies, proceedings and notices are published. TATP accepts it on its face as a reference of U.S. official transactions and business. However, TATP may not accept it as a reference of the terms or conditions of that business.
Declaration of Terms
Authenticate - To prove the truth or authenticity of.
Axiom - An accepted general truth or principle.
Burden of Proof - The level of proof required (in a court) to be accepted as proved. In a court of law there typically are three levels (in descending order): Reasonable doubt (Criminal), clear and convincing evidence (U.S. Civil Cases), and preponderance of evidence (Civil Cases).
Certify – To declare formally.
Circumstantial Evidence - Evidence of an indirect nature which implies the existence of the main fact in question but does not in itself prove it.
Direct Evidence - Evidence which if believed proves the existence of the fact in issue without inference or presumption.
Fact - Something known to have happened, to exist or to be true.
Hypothesis - A supposition or conjecture put forward to account for certain facts and used as a basis for further investigation by which it may be proved or disproved.
Law (physical, natural, scientific) - A factual statement of what always happens in certain circumstances.
Premise - a statement on which reasoning is based.
Prima Facie - Latin for "on its face". Something prima facie is usually accepted on its face as the highest form of direct evidence requiring no other corroboration.
Reference - Something that can be referred to as an authority or standard.
Standard - A thing, a quality or specification by which something may be tested or measured.
Theory - A set of ideas formulated by reasoning from known facts to explain something.
Truth - Truth is that which corresponds to the facts. (see: number 1 - Correspondence Theory, in the Principles section)
© 6/19/07 M. J. Sperry – All content of The American Truth Projects website or forum may be used in whole or part as long as a link to the respective source page of the website and/or forum is prominently displayed along with that content.
Though TATP will diligently guard against it, The American Truth Project and its owners are not responsible for content that may be copyrighted and escapes our attention. If such content is discovered, an email from the copyright owner will get it removed immediately. Though we can now see no reason why, all or any part of this disclaimer may be added to or retracted at any time.