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“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” – Christopher Hitchens. Do you agree?

As human beings, when we first hear this quote we instantly agree to it and make a correlation with science. But when we actually listen to this quote and ponder about it, we figure we cannot entirely agree with this quote or disagree with it completely. This quote brings about various knowledge issues and in some cases you agree and some cases you cannot. The knowledge issues that come up are – science, history, human science, religion, belief, and faith.


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    Dec 20 2012: Yes. I agree. Any statement can be asserted or dismissed without evidence. This much of this is true. With that said, this statement itself can be easily dismissed.

    Whether a statement *should* be accepted or dismissed is a whole different question.

    This statement seems to be made by a person fairly ignorant of how and why people accept or reject various statements. By far, it has nothing to do with evidence, reason, or logic.

    What is counted as evidence? Should we accept any evidence or should we reject some evidence? Why? Should we ask for evidence that the evidence is authentic? To what degree? Where should we stop and believe the evidence? Why? Why shouldn't we accept the assertion itself in the first place?
    • Dec 26 2012: Really? I wholeheartedly agree with the Hitch and I think you should do too. Think hard about it before judging. Your point that people do tend to make decisions about statements without recourse to due evidence, reason and logic is precisely why the long-suffering (fools, that is!) Hitch had to make the damned point in the first place.

      And as to your frankly child-like questions as to evidence... extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But this doesn't have any bearing on the question at hand: is it correct to say that in a debate any imbecile who presents ideas without any logic, reason or evidence OUGHT to expect to be told that they are an imbecile and their thoughts worthless? Unfortunately, though, by simple appeal to feelings and instinct and emotions, such arguments are ofttimes given too much weight instead of being soundly dismissed.

      I not only agree with the statement but also feel that the World would be a better place if we taught this to children instead of laughable intelligent design!
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        Dec 26 2012: Andy, I did think hard. Read your own arguments. "fools", "imbecile", "laughable", "worthless", "child-like". You are appealing to emotion in your own arguments.

        The statement I made is not emotional. Here is a good start to understand the complexity of this question: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-belief/

        I do not promote intelligent design and I think religion needs to be kept out of science and science out of religion. You better keep them separated. Yes, in natural science, evidence is needed. Note the limited scope.

        As for Hitchens' quote, I did not say I disagree with it. Note that it is worded carefully "...can be dismissed..." It does not mean "should be dismissed".
        • Dec 29 2012: Yes, I use emotion as well as logic to convey a point. No crime there.

          I read your original comments as partially facetious, largely pretentious, wholly patronising and completely missing the point.

          This is not what you said but it IS how I read it. Forgive (and correct) me if I'm wrong:
          1. I agree with the statement
          2. I will now reword the original, subtly changing the meaning
          3. I will now pontificate about a completely trivial reading of the quotation that I have helped to manipulate you into seeing by my clever rewording of the original phrase.
          4. I will now make it clear that my agreement with the statement is conditional on the statement being read the wrong way.
          5. I will now criticise the author (damn his Hitchy britches!) with slanderous abandon.
          6. Having knocked the (now dead) competition, I shall demonstrate my incredible intelligence by displaying what a deep philosopher I am... let me ask you some solipsistic questions and show you what a deep thinker I am.

          I don't know where to begin, really. Let me have a go:

          Christopher Hitchens was a great many things; he was a great man; what he was not, however, was ignorant on how and why people accept or reject various statements. He was a great writer, a great thinker, a great philosopher and a great speaker. He understood more about why people accept or reject various statements than you, my young philosopher, will likely ever do. Well done for noting that human brains tend not to make decisions without emotional or cognitive bias. How clever you are. Really. Pat yourself on the back for stating the bleeding obvious.

          The questions you pose at the end of your comments are... ironic! The GENIUS of the original quotation is just that it asks (and answers) those same questions, if you would but read it properly... only he doesn't get bogged down with "should"... he just relates to the reality of what people will accept or reject.

          Now I cannot rest until you bow to the genius that was Hitch!
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        Dec 29 2012: Andy, your reply does not address the questions I asked other than calling them "childlike", "pretentious", "patronizing", etc. There are other commenters here who seem to have a similar point of view. If you don't like my tone, I'd be interested to see what you would reply to Krisztián Pintér's comment above, for example. I am not very interested in discussing tones and personalities.
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        Dec 29 2012: hitchens probably never wanted fanboys. but it comes with the job i guess.

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