To Know God, We Must First Confess Not Knowing Much
At any given point in history, we've been wrong about how the world works. What makes now any different?
October 20, 2013 - 9:00 am
Lies. Damned Lies. And statistics. Propagandists commonly spin the latter utilizing a trick called the end-point fallacy, cherry-picking the range of measured data in order to create the false impression of a trend. Climate alarmists love the tactic, sculpting favorable data to create an impression of imminent environmental catastrophe.
Consider. If you choose to track the outdoor temperature from four in the morning until noon and extrapolate a trend absent any other context, you might predict an imminent roast of all life on Earth. Of course, no one would believe such a claim, because even the children among us have enough experience with the day and night cycle to understand that temperature regularly rises to a high, than falls to a low before rising again.
But what if you were dealing with some ignorant community of subterranean mole men who had never seen the sun? Until experience enlightened them, they could be convinced that a morning’s warming might continue unhindered.
Many illusions rely upon an application of the endpoint fallacy. In television’s golden age, George Reeves created the illusion that he could fly by leaping into the air as Superman. The film would cut at the apex of his jump, propelling him in our mind’s eye and suspending disbelief.
Extrapolated to a contemplation of the universe and its whole history, the endpoint fallacy suggests that many of our assumptions about existence may be flawed. We assume that things have always been the way they are now, that what we can observe today accurately reflects what occurred in the past, that perceived constants have always been so, that rates of decay, expansion, consumption, and adaptation can be extrapolated into both past and future. Yet, an honest assessment must concede that our mortality, limited perception, and incomplete view of history place us in a position not unlike that community of mole men. On a cosmic scale, our experience with the universe seems comparable to a cave-dweller’s first dawn.